We have been back in America for over three weeks now. Since we’ve been back lots of friends have asked us how we feel and what we’ve noticed about the culture since we’ve been gone for two years since our last visit.
Once we hit the ground and the fog began to lift, I could tell that I was definately a stranger in a strange land. Yet in many ways it felt like I never was gone, like I was in some kind of time warp and just lost the last four years of my life in some black hole. weird.
But I knew I am definately not the same person I was when I left.
I see things much differently, having sat with poor believers in their houses and heard their stories of giving up everything for the Gospel, how could I not be?
When I remember the pastors in India sleeping on the concrete walkway outside of an apartment building because they had not where else to lay their head after serving day and night to prepare for a city wide outreach, who wouldn’t be affected by that?
I still see the faces of those that have never heard the Gospel.
I see people who think Jesus’ Father was probably Santa Claus. He is as foreign to them as the Buddha is to a backwoods American country boy.
I can’t pretend like I wasn’t there and experienced what I experienced. Yet those kind of pictures are so far removed from the planet I know as America. Its as if I live between two different worlds.
On coming back, I also had instincts built into me that I didn’t have before.
Instincts like the compulsion to take my shoes off when entering a building or raising my hands to give a “wai” of respect to those older than me. Friends went to shake my hand or give me a hug and I went for the “wai.”
My appetite is different too. I remember arriving in Thailand and being afraid that I would get an upset stomach from eating on the street. Eventually I lived on that kind of food.
Coming into America, I had the same fear that my stomach would hurt from eating that Taco Bell.
My friend said he kind of had the same fear too, but dove in nonetheless.
I haven’t been able to get over our portion sizes here. They are HUGE! Really very overdone in every single place I go. Even when I try to get the small size of something, it is just massive.
When I have watched people order mounds of food for themselves for an every day meal, my mind automatically starts trying to calculate how many Thais it would feed.
Our diets are soo rich too. Fried, bready, saucy, cheesy, and meaty are just some words that come to mind. Having large portions of meat for an individual serving seemed so luxurious.
But on the other hand, if we aren’t eating those kinds of foods we are obsessing over it on the other end of the health spectrum.
We tend to think a lot about food, good or bad.
And don’t get me started about the convenience stores. I almost blacked out in a Super Wawa store in New Jersey from the reverse culture shock. I was paralyzed by the choices, the frantic pace, and the noise. I know it sounds weird, but it was weird experiencing it too!
As I was working on my computer, my in laws had the TV running with some of the evening’s network sitcoms. Every single one of them pushed the envelope on language more than I can ever remember being allowed before.
Every one of them was FILLED with sexual humor and raunchy inuendo. My wife and looked at each other shocked.
Why are we seemingly so overly sexualized in our culture?
So what have a noticed? I guess if I had to sum it up in one word, it would be “decadence.” Decadence in most every way.
Even in our hurting economy, Americans live decadent lives in comparison to the majority of the world, and don’t even know it.
It bleeds into every area of life.
Most of us don’t have anything else to compare it to.
It’s all we’ve ever known.