So I don’t often have charge of the TV and I also don’t have NETFLIX (whoa! I know, I know. What a boring life, how on earth do I survive😅) I just might tell you all about it some other time. But for now, the TV does very well, thank you for your concern. And usually, it’s under the firm management of other members of the family which is fine because I’m usually doing other things. Unless one of my few shows is showing and then I make a stand. You know how it is when you don’t often assert your rights so that when you do, everyone feels obliged to let you have your way?
One of those few shows that I generally call my show is 90 Day Fiancé and one of my favourite spin offs so far is Before the 90 Days. This is where Americans-in-Love pack bags and baggage and fly off to different places in the world to meet up with the love of their lives.
Enter Culture Shock.
It’s bad enough that you’re trying to deal with meeting someone you fell in love with online. And then add on the fact that they’re not American. That becomes a minefield that is very interesting to watch. The faux pas, the wrong expectations, misconceptions, the language, the families, the food, the weather. The local ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends. Everything is conspiring to break you up, except love.
Here is the thing though, when you know you are an African travelling to a new country, you are sort of prepared. At least, you go in with this mindset of knowing you have to leave the Makola trotro mindset behind and be open to learn about metro cards, self-check-outs, dimes and quarters, and that 32 degrees means it’s freezing outside (not a warm sunny equatorial day). Add on the fact that a sandwich is actually a complete meal, not a quick snack. Now that’s culture shock. And it’s tough.
But that’s just part of being African, of generally playing catch up. But it’s a different story when you are American and you think that somehow, the whole world one way or another revolves around America and should aspire to be American. Not that you say it out aloud. You just ooze it. It’s such a huge blind spot that makes the reality TV show so much more interesting. What always fascinates me (and I can’t get over this) is when a black American woman (or African American to be politically correct) is very optimistic about marrying a North African man. Huh? North Africans and West Africans don’t even vibe and then say what? Clash of cultures. Clash of beliefs. Clash of everything. So this African American sister from another mother is gearing up to meet her boyfriend in Tunisia and is excited about knowing him in the biblical sense. (Do you see what I see already?) She’s there happily thinking they will be spending the night together in his family house, but the reality her Tunisian beau has not told her is that they will be sleeping in different rooms. Watched by the eagle eyes of his family. Sigh.
But why did I start on Before the 90 Days anyway? So this guy from Michigan goes to meet his hot girlfriend from Panama and guess what he gives her? An electric toothbrush. An electric toothbrush tied with a red ribbon. Look, I don’t care if it comes in a Mercedes Benz, it’s still an electric toothbrush.
Awkward. I mean, you can see that she hates it. But you can also see that he loves it. He wonders whether it is possible to get an electric toothbrush here (oh what a valuable gift from America), and how fast the bristles spin. Yawn. Which brings me to why I feel her pain.
Guess what I also received as a gift a long time ago in America? An electric flower. An electric flower. One flower. Not a bunch. Just one. I stared at it for months trying to understand it. And then I gave up and threw it away. Plus the relationship. Hahaha. Just kidding. The relationship just did not work out. Don’t blame the poor electric flower.
Lately, after a series of aha moments, I have realized that I have had blind spots when I think about who God is. What He is. My expectations. Because I take the Bible and I see something in a whole new light and I want to scream, wow, how did I miss that? My own version of spiritual culture shock. How did I think it was that way and not this way? There is nothing that can kill a good relationship faster than wrong expectations. So I’m learning to put aside what I think know about God and let every conversation be fresh and new. And guess what, the best person to tell you about that person is the person themselves. And that’s what the Holy Spirit is for.
If some things haven’t been making sense to you, maybe you are approaching it from what you think should work, not what should be. Here is what God did for us. He knew we’d probably have a hard time figuring Him out so He sent Jesus, as man. And God likes to keep things simple. Don’t worry about theology or how deep you need to know God. To know Jesus is to know God. All of God. Inside out. Crosscheck everything you believe against who Jesus is. If it does not match up, then darling, you are far from home. Even if it comes from well-meaning people, the truth will stand up to the nature of Jesus.
For instance, if you are sick and you think that maybe it’s God’s will, then check out what Jesus did when the sick came to Him. Did He send anyone away? Nah.
What I am rediscovering is just how good God is. We say it all the time. God is good. But do you really really really know just how gooood He is? Once you get a glimpse, it will blow your mind (in a good way, of course).
I love it when it works, when the love-struck couples on TV can take all the moving unmatched parts and make it work. Two very different people, two cultures, one love. Of course, there are huge sacrifices involved. And for us, that sacrifice was Jesus on the cross. Christianity has become tedious for the reason that we have been encumbered with what we think God wants from us versus what God is giving to us.
You might be giving him an electric flower when all He wants is a walk with you on the beach. Hand in hand. Sunset over the horizon. Good times, eh?
Like I said, the answer always lies with Jesus. Look to Him for the recipe to a successful relationship. Don’t be blindsided by your own idea of who God is. And He wants to make you happy. I can’t say that for all men, but I can definitely say that for Jesus.
Stay high on grace!
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