Friday, December 12, 2008

Who is This Person?


Vintage clip art courtesy of the Graphic Fairy

I'm sitting there, my heart's racing and I feel so anxious. Tears are pouring down my cheeks. I'm wondering, "Who is this person? Because she's not me. She's not the confident, decisive person I have always been."

It was supposed to be a fun day of shopping with my husband. But I wasn't having much fun. I felt under pressure to find the perfect gift at the best price. I picked things up and then put them back. I doubted my judgement. And I felt angry that I was having such a hard time! This was supposed to be fun. And really, it always had been in the past.

As I sat there crying and praying, I realized I was having a little bit of reverse culture shock (that means I was having a hard time processing or accepting the way things are done in my own culture). I'd evolved into someone different during my four years in South America.

I guess it's because, in some ways, my options were so limited there and choices weren't a luxury that I enjoyed (if you've never travelled overseas, you're gonna have to take my word on this). I remember shopping and shopping until I found something that would work for me. I got used to "making do" and "pinch hitting". I gladly paid whatever outrageous price was asked for an item I had been searching for because I knew I would likely never find it again. I got used to living that way. Sure there were times it was hard to deal with but on the other hand, it made me more creative and resourceful and ultimately reduced my attachment to things. And that was something to be thankful for.

But back in my own culture, I felt overwhelmed at all the options . The thrill of hunting for the best deal became cumbersome. And I suddenly began to question my ability to make good decisions. Had I really become so mush brained that I couldn't tell until I walked out of the store that $30 of merchandise for $20 was better than $20 of merchandise for $20?

I can be pretty hard on myself, and maybe that's what you're thinking I'm doing. And you're right. At first, I was. But what it's turned into for me is a chance to remember what my REAL identity is. I'm not an indecisive, anxious, insecure person (even if I feel like it).

I'm a child of God. I'm not defined by my actions or thoughts (no matter what provokes them). I'M DEFINED BY WHAT HE SAYS ABOUT ME. And He says I'm accepted in the Beloved. I'm seated in the heavenly places at His right hand. I'm loved with an everlasting love. I'm bought with a price. I'm secure for all eternity. I'm His.

And that makes all the difference. It allows me to forgive myself for thinking I should be perfect. It causes me to relax and deal graciously with myself when I see that I am having difficulty processing my own culture and appreciate that OF COURSE I am changed by four years in another culture (I would have robbed myself greatly if I had never learned from that opportunity!).

So why am I sharing this with you? I don't really know, except that I feel compelled to do so. Maybe someone will be encouraged by my testimony. Maybe someone else will understand missionary women better as a result of reading it. Ultimately, I just hope that God gets the glory somehow. Because He deserves it.

6 comments:

Becky Aguirre said...

You know, I'm glad you did share, thanks!...I enjoyed reading what you are learning and it's an encouragement...that's how I usually feel whenever we change countries/cultures. It's disconcerting, but you are right, that's not what our identity is based on...

Todd and Julie said...

Thanks, Shilo, that was perfect for me to read tonight. I just got back from a similiar, stressful shopping experience. And I felt upset that I was stressed about what should have been "fun". So maybe the stress isn't only for those experiencing reverse culture shock!

Thanks for sharing so honestly...I appreciated your thoughts and the reminder of where our true worth comes from!!! :)

We still want to get together with you guys if it works out sometime! Love, Julie

Glitter and Bliss said...

You are so sweet....bless your heart. I know you learned a lot from your experience, and so many...including me...are blessed by it. Thanks so much for sharing. This time of year can be stressful, and we all feel so much pressure to find that perfect gift. I have to stop and remind myself of the true meaning of Christmas. You have a wonderful night.

schwabair said...

Shilo, It is funny that even though we have been back as long as we have, I can still relate to your story too! Darn store, darn mall, darn Target. Darn sales, darn trying to get the best deal, darn trying to buy every gift for under $15. I hear you!

I'm so glad that your shopping experience was a chance for God to remind you of what a costly and great gift you are to Him.

Thanks for sharing your heart with us!

Anonymous said...

Hi Shiloh,

Thanks again for your words. I am in the middle of understanding this message of our identity and can relate wholeheartedly to your example. Although mine goes even as far as how I deal with my family, what I expect to be able to do in a day, etc. As believers we have a new living identity, that has nothing to do with what we see ourselves as or what we feel like at that moment. Thanks for being bold enough to share your "real" self on your blog.

Tasha

Ashley L. @ Missionary Moms said...

Thank you Shilo! I read this on just the right day. It was totally unrelated, but I had a total cultural blunder today that left me feeling so stupid. I have had a hard time letting go of that feeling, even though it was an honest mistake that God does not fault me for. Anyway, this paragraph really hit me:

I'm a child of God. I'm not defined by my actions or thoughts (no matter what provokes them). I'M DEFINED BY WHAT HE SAYS ABOUT ME. And He says I'm accepted in the Beloved. I'm seated in the heavenly places at His right hand. I'm loved with an everlasting love. I'm bought with a price. I'm secure for all eternity. I'm His."

I needed a reminder today of how God sees me because I have been feeling stupid and embarrassed all morning, and have been letting my mistake shape far too much my view of who I am. Thank you for the encouragement!

~Ashley

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