Thinking about Cultures…

This past weekend, I spent a little bit of time in a Starbucks while waiting for our little one to be done with a visit. A line of people formed to order their latte’s and mocha’s. I was in line to order something to eat. The weather was beautiful, cool, and breezy, so I ate my sandwiches outside. I was supposed to start grading. But the weather… it just invited me to think about anything other than grading.

So I mused about life as a teacher, foster mom, etc. A few minutes into my contemplations, I noticed a man with a cardboard sign jay-walking across the street. I wondered to myself if he would come up to the Starbucks and ask around for cash from all the people sitting outside.

Then I wondered, why does that man seem to NOT fit in at starbucks? For heaven’s sakes, it’s less than a mile from CPS, where hundreds of children are waiting for temporary homes, or temporary visits with their families. Why am I surprised to see a man with a cardboard sign near a Starbucks?

Then it struck me: cultures collide in this place.

When I say culture, I should clarify. I don’t mean the culture of nationalities or geographies. My classrooms have always had a culture. My house has a culture. My church has a culture. As a teacher, I try to be the one to name the culture, and let the students fill in the details with their personalities, as long as it does not conflict with the one I name. As a wife and mother, I try to set a culture in the house of efficient and effective communication, fearless attempts at new recipes, and some level of cleanliness. As a member of a church, I try to invite others to join our conversations, to encourage parents of small children that we love kids with all of their noises, to share hospitality with fellowship meals.

We are all part of various cultures, and we all have an effect on those cultures we inhabit.

So, what is the problem when conflicting cultures arise? Pride. Pride is the problem. My comfort zone includes Starbucks and its typical clientele. My comfort zone includes Target, Malls, Joann Fabrics, quiet Libraries, used book stores, a school and church with educated thoughtful individuals.

But this is not the culture Christ called me to. As a Christian, I am called to run past the boundaries of my secure culture and encounter the cultures I am not comfortable with. As a foster-mom, I am called to love small children who do not belong to me. They belong to young men and women who may not be a part of my “Starbucks” culture.

God showed me that this past weekend. I got to spend time talking with our little one’s family. Talking like normal people. About school, books, diapers, feeding schedules, baby food, formula, sports, and everything else about life.

God showed me that this family that I have always assumed to be in a culture that could only collide painfully with mine… was a family with a culture… just like mine.


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