As I talked about in the last post, when I am in a new culture, I spend a long time trying to work out social norms. I try to work out what is their culture and should be accepted, what is just an individual and should be accepted, what is their culture and should be challenged and what is just an individual and should be challenged.
What I have discovered, and makes me fall in love again with the Word of God, is that the Bible is such an amazing guide of humanness. It points to things that transcend culture. Although clothed in culture, God’s word demonstrates needs that are in all of us and things that are ‘normal’ for those who are children of God.
Obvious, non-obvious things I have discovered:
People (men, women, and children) everywhere want to be recognised and valued. They appreciate feedback on what they are doing well. They crave a ‘well done.’ Just because a person seems reserved and unemotional does not mean that they don’t need those things.
People (men, women, and children) everywhere have a need for physical touch. Even the cultures that seem stand-offish have a deep desire and find pleasure in being recognised physically by those they trust.
People (men, women, and children) everywhere feel insecure at times.
Even pride is a form of insecurity that the ‘real you’ might be discovered.
People (men, women, and children) want to be included in some sort of community. They may not wish to be in constant contact with people and may prefer to be off reading a book somewhere, but at some point, they need others, and even book-readers need to know that others are there if they want them.
People (men, women, and children) everywhere appreciate kind, gentle words. They can see through and resist proud people and are attracted to humble people. Although shame may work as a motivator in many (*all) cultures, it is not empowering for anyone and only stifles creativity and freedom.
People (men, women, children) do not like to be told what to do. Everyone appreciates clear communication, but no one likes being bossed around by others and made to feel like a servant (even if they are one).
People (men, women, children) everywhere need love. They need 1 Corinthians 13 love that is patient, kind, uplifting, not envious or self-seeking. They need people who will forgive quickly, believe in them and celebrate with them.
People (men, women, children) everywhere appreciate a warm smile and food from their childhood.
People (men, women, children) everywhere need ways to celebrate, to relax and to recognise their worth is in who they are and not in what they do.
It seems so obvious, but it is so often forgotten - there are things that are universal and make us ‘human‘ and they can be found anywhere and everywhere. For me that just points once more to a Beautiful, Creative, Feeling, Freeing, Loving God.