jeudi, novembre 27, 2008

on being christian, asian, canadian and confused. part 2.

If i conveyed in the last post that either asian culture or western culture is all-good or all-bad, i hope you know that wasn't my intention. Just like anything else in this world, there are great aspects of both cultures and some not-so-great aspects. And i definitely agree with many of the comments, that there is much flexibility that comes from having two different lenses with which to view the world, that there must be some sort of middle ground to be found, and that the Bible transcends all cultural barriers (since God transcends all these barriers), and that we need to sometimes shift our worldviews to align with God and His Word.

i think though, the trouble IS finding that middle ground. Even shifting our worldviews to align purely with God and His Word is hard, because we read the Bible through a lens that (often times) our culture has taught us. We are taught the Bible through different methods. If you listen to an asian preacher, you might note that he will often teach in circles. Western preachers are much more likely to preach in a 3 point format (or some derivative thereof).

When it comes to discipleship then, sometimes, it may not necessarily be what is taught, but how it is taught, in order for it to be caught. The other day, Tara (the woman who has been discipling me for the past year) said something to me that struck me. She said, "Lydia, you don't really listen to me. Well, you might listen, but you don't do what I tell you to do." It struck me because I've never considered myself to be un-teachable. I'm generally a pretty teachable person. I'm many things: stubborn, prideful, brash, harsh, outspoken...but being unteachable isn't a quality most people would use to describe me. She was right, though; I haven't been putting the things she's told me to do into practice. I mulled for a long time, because usually, even if I don't like doing something someone tells me to do, I do it anyways! (Caveat: my teachability doesn't always stem from the right motivations..sometimes I'm teachable because I want to avoid being shamed! haha)

Was it poor teaching? No, Tara is someone I respect, and I think that she's a good communicator and teacher. Was I just being stubborn and not listening? Well, no, because when she would tell me things, I'd take them to heart. And then I realized, it's because I wasn't really understanding Tara, even though her communication was good. My Western mentality gave me enough perspective to understand what she was saying, but my Asian upbringing made it hard for me to reconcile my beliefs with my actions. For the longest time, Tara and my director, Andy, kept telling me that wellness is my top priority. But in my mind, I had no concept of wellness. Asian people don't take sick-days. Growing up, I think I could count maybe 5 times I didn't go to school because of sickness. So when they told me that I needed to get well, I took that seriously. I started seeing a counsellor. But I didn't alter my schedule at all. I didn't cut any meetings; if anything, I added meetings! Not because I was unteachable, but because, in my mind, I had addressed this issue of wellness. When I was a kid and I was sick, my mum might take me to see a doctor. I'd get medicine, and then I'd go right back to school. I'd only miss a day if I was severely incapacitated. So, for me, the priority of wellness meant meeting up with a counsellor once a week.

Then, on Tuesday, Tara expanded on what the concept of prioritizing the path to wellness means. It means that I have the freedom to spend 1 hour a day, just thinking through things I've worked with my counsellor. It means that if I'm having a horrible day, dealing with my emotions, I have the freedom to cancel my meetings and be alone. Wow. For me, until she told me these things, I didn't realize this is what striving to get well means! It wasn't even in my asian paradigm. Even when we're sick, Asians go to work.. people who don't go to work when they're sick--but not incapacitated--are just lazy. This is the mentality I grew up with. Sure, it was hard on Tuesday to not go to prayer or to action group, and to just sit at home and think and mull and make decisions. I had to fight the feeling of laziness. But that shift in communication helped me understand a simple concept that many westerners may take for granted, because for them, growing up, healing from sickness meant getting adequate rest.

In this case, though, I had to adopt a Western idea, because in Asia, the way I spent my Tuesday would have looked like laziness. And so here is the thing--I haven't necessarily found a middle ground; in this scenario, a Western idea has just been communicated to me enough for the Asian me to understand and make me want to put into practice. So where is that middle ground? Is there a middle ground in this case, or is this Western idea the only way in my situation?

3 commentaires:

Jill a dit...

For me, I think the insane work ethic and no days off thing was more from being an athlete than being Asian. I remember running until I puked, or playing games where I literally had a fever and was coughing up a lung. There was kind of this mentality that you have to be tough even when you know it's not wise or you're in extreme discomfort.

paulman a dit...

You're not Chinese, though (Jill). So there are differences within the "Asian" moniker, I think :P

Well, actually you're 1/4 Chinese - I shouldn't forget that.

paulman a dit...

And wow, that is intense. Playing when you had a fever?!