This week, our family is attending a conference called Debriefing and Renewal. It’s a course that helps missionaries adjust back into their home culture. (Should I tell them I’m not even an American?)
I guess that after next week, I’ll be well enough adjusted that there won’t be things that make me nervous about life in America. :) Thus, this is my precious opportunity to get everything off my chest before the psychologists pacify me.
Things that Make Me Nervous About Living in America
1. Materialism and Wealth
I’m afraid that the ways God changed my heart by allowing us to live amongst the earthly poor will dissolve. I’m afraid that my concern for justice and the voice of the poor will slowly dwindle.
There have already been several awkward moments when I’ve been overwhelmed by the sheer wastefulness of people and organizations.
I still feel bad emptying the tray after eating at a fast food place. I think about how much all of the supplies cost that I used for 30 minutes and then threw in the garbage. It doesn’t seem environmentally or economically prudent. I know there are a lot more experiences to come.
2. Over-Saturated Sexual Exposure
I don’t mind saying that I’m a man, and I’ll always consider a scantily clad woman to be a temptation. By the way, any man who won’t say that is a liar.
In Papua New Guinea, I wasn’t forced to be exposed to all that sort of junk. There were no billboards. There were no Sunday ads. I did have internet, but I browsed with images off because we paid per megabyte.
I can’t hardly say the same about living in the States.
To be clear ,I don’t go out hunting sexually explicit images. But they are hard to avoid. Like Job, I’ve made a covenant with my eyes, but I just wish there were less places for my eyes to wander.
I wish one could simply opt-out of the constant exposure to such images.
3. Adults Who Take Advantage of Kids
For most of you who have never been to PNG, it may seem like a scary place. However, there are many predators here who target kids. We never had the same sorts of fears or concerns as are prevalent here.
This is a society where we are much more leery of strangers.
4. Artificial Relationships that Distract or Replace Real Ones
Sure, we could have a discussion about what constitutes a genuine relationship. But I’m going to go ahead and say that face-to-face relationships are real. Screen-to-screen relationships always have an element of artificiality and lack the intimacy that a face-to-face relationship provides.
Living overseas, I was thankful that we could Skype with family. But that was artificial compared to sitting together in the living room.
I say all that to say that we sometimes focus on our artificial friends on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs instead of the people who are right there in front of us.
I’m nervous about living in a culture where I can be in front of someone and they can ‘put me on hold’ so they can converse with someone who is not even in the room.
5. Technology Addiction
That’s probably not a real thing, but with unlimited internet access, I know there is a danger that I’ll spend too much time online and too much time on my iPhone. I’m nervous to know if I’ll be responsible with the technology I have.
Yes, there are certainly things I’m excited about living in America, so please don’t feel like this is a bash America post. I’d balance the post by writing things I like about living here, but I’ve got to get my bags packed before I’m late for the conference …
Do any of you share my concerns, or am I just a missionary struggling to adjust?