Yesterday's post brought along my first follow up question! That's a pretty big deal and I thought my reader's idea was excellent. Today, we're going to run with their thought and see where it takes us. So grab a cup of coffee, sit down in your favorite chair, and strap in!
Stranger in a Strange Land - Follow Up #1
"... very well written and informative. Only one question [,] why do you feel like you stick out like a sore thumb when you are here in the [S]tates?"
That is an excellent question right there! It's a lot to think about for anyone. For me, it is not necessarily that I have a go to answer, or that I spend time contemplating that feeling. It is not one that I enjoy. But nevertheless, it is very real.
You see, there is a distinguishable difference between being born somewhere, and knowing it like you know the back of your own hand. Some people don't see the difference because they have never been placed in a situation where it is allowed to become obvious to them. I've been blessed with being able to see the difference, to feel the difference.
I cannot deny that I was born in America. I cannot deny that I am an American citizen. My passport says that "American" is my nationality. And I won't lie to you, I'm proud to belong to such a nation as America. But those are the blunt, the cold, and the hard facts. In yesterday's post I said that "... when I land on the other side I stick out like a sore thumb."
If you consider the globe, logistically, America is located on the other side of the globe from the continent of Africa. So, the 'other side' of sorts is America in this case. When I land on U.S. soil, relief is one of the furthest thoughts from me.
I can't say I was 'born and raised...' anywhere because that would be bogus. I was born in the States; but I was raised "somewhere between France and Africa" as a relative of mine phrased it once. Because of my being raised on international soil, there are lots of different things that have been wired into me that anyone else wouldn't understand...
For instance, when you meet someone new, you reach out with your right hand and you give them a firm handshake and you look them in the eye unless they are your elder. And after shaking their hand, you hang on to it for awhile. You keep shaking gently as you ask them about their family, their neighbors, and the horrible burglary that happened in the neighborhood next to them. If anyone in their family is sick, you express your condolences and then you say that you are praying for a quick recovery. After all of this, it is now their turn to ask you everything you've just finished asking them. And you are to do this while still shaking hands. You don't release until you've made a friend.
In any store or public place that you go to, you greet everyone you see and interact with. A simple 'hello' doesn't cut it. In many cases the scenario above will happen several times before you have gotten what you came for.
You never, ever get straight to the point. That is rude. You must chase the monkey around the bush many times to get what you want.
Even if things are difficult at home or at the work place, you respond that everything is good. If they know you well enough to call your bluff, you are then permitted to tell them the truth about your situation, but not before they give you the invitation to do so.
Don't ever show up on time! You always need to be very late. It means that you have respect for your hosts.
Mentioned above are just a few of the gestures and such that are valued and accepted in my culture. Tell me, would any American would feel respected by these? They would probably look at me like I was the village crazy lady. They wouldn't tolerate it, some might even consider it disrespect. Trust me, I mean no disrespect, in fact I hold you in the highest regards... But it makes me the odd one out and the result of many cold stares.
So dear reader, in answer to your question - My heart and my culture are why I know I stick out like a sore thumb. It is because I have no connection, nor sense of belonging.
One of my favorite bands, Anthem Lights, released a song called "Stranger". In it, they describe how we as Christians are absolute strangers here on earth. We don't fit in because we were not made to. Our "Home" is in Heaven with the Lord. And until we get there, we continue to stick out like sore thumbs for Him, shining His light. But what matters is how we choose to let the Lord use that for His glory. Because, after all, we are simply walking the walk that He - in all of His glory and majesty - chose for us before the beginning of time.
In closing this first follow up, dear readers, I would like to leave you with some of the lyrics from "Strangers". I really don't think that I could have said it any better myself.
"In a land of settling
I can't seem to settle in
I am a stranger in this world, just passing through
Waiting on the Son to come down
Waiting on the Son to come down
I don't belong
I speak the language but still I can't understand
What's going on?
So I'm running to You just as fast as I can
Don't want to settle in
This place is not my home"
~ Anthem Lights