It’s Friday afternoon. My working day has just ended. I am standing on the 7th floor in the hospital, elevators in front of me. Half of life is waiting. And this is a part of that half of life. On the only, very small couch in the hallway there is a group of 8 women sitting, waiting as well. They are in front of three big windows. Looking through the windows I see the park, buildings behind it, a church, beautiful skies and as I stare my mind starts to drift to other places. Memories of places I have visited fill my mind. Women just like the ones sitting here, holding on to each other for dear life, are part of some very impressive memories. As I stand there waiting I try to hide the fact that I am looking at them, loving the beautiful picture they create together.
I will be honest. The love I have now for these women is new. The love and understanding I have now for cultures not my own is something God has worked out in my heart. As a matter of fact I have known a time when I felt so hurt by other cultures that I decided I would give up my love for travelling. Just to protect myself. If it wasn’t for that one man I would still be in that same place. He wasn’t someone I had ever met before. And after that one time I have never seen him again. But God used him to show me a few things about cultures. And when I just thought back of yesterday afternoon I realised that these three rules can be an encouragement for a lot more people than just me. So I will share them here.
When you enter a new culture, or a go to visit your neighbour who is not originally from the same culture as you then remember this:
1. Every culture has GOOD things in it, even if it may not seem so at first, it’s definitely true.
2. Every culture has BAD things in it, it’s okay to realise this, as long as you don’t focus on just these things.
Before I share the third one, I have to add that this one means the most to me, as it has been this ‘rule’ that has brought me healing. I sometimes tend to just see black and white, just good and bad and nothing in between, but not all things that seem bad at first, are really bad. And so the third rule is this one:
3. Every culture has redeemable things in it. (A good example for how this rule works is this: In the culture of Tibet people start their day with thanking the gods for it. As an outsider I can look at this as a ‘bad’ thing, but it actually is a very good thing! I should just share the fact that there is only One God and that He is the only One worth praising. I shouldn’t want this thing to be gone, but redeemed.)
I love cultures. I love people. I love the differences and the similarities. I love the languages. Oh, I absolutely adore people’s accents! Instead of running from different cultures I now find myself looking for the good things in cultures so I can learn from them and bring them home.
Is that not exactly the fun of it?