33: Culture Shock
Stories in this episode: Kristen moves from her hometown to a new city for a new job after a spiritual prompting and quickly finds herself headed toward even bigger transitions; only six months after his reactivation in the Church, Derek struggles to make sense of his new culture at the Missionary Training Center.
Find the talk by Sister Sharon Eubank referenced in this podcast episode here.
Find the talk by Elder Neil L. Andersen referenced in this podcast episode here.
KaRyn: Welcome to "This is the Gospel," an LDS Living podcast where we feature real stories from real people who are practicing and living their faith every day. I'm your host, KaRyn Lay.
There's a well-known theory about the way we experience and adapt to a culture that's new or unfamiliar to us. It's the theory of culture shock. And even if that's a new phrase to you, you're probably a little bit familiar with the four stages. They show up all the time in pop culture, on TV, and in other spaces. First, there's the honeymoon phase. And if you've ever been in a new relationship, you know this stage. Everything is rosy and beautiful and romantic. And you're captivated and excited by the differences between you and whatever your new love is, whether that's a new city, a new romantic partner or a new job, or maybe it's even a new faith tradition. Well, that honeymoon is exciting and it makes you feel alive but just around the corner is the negotiation stage. This is when all the differences between your culture of origin and the new culture feel completely overwhelming, difficult, maybe even disgusting. For me, this stage was embodied by the Korean shrimp. That's right, you heard me, shrimp. About three months into my new life abroad, after the glow of all the lantern festivals had worn off, I started to notice that the shrimp were fully intact in my food. Not just legs or shells, but like full heads with great, big, beady eyeballs, like something from outer space or the Black Lagoon staring at me from my soup. And it couldn't handle it. I was filled with an unholy rage every single time I would order food that I thought was shrimp-free, only to be surprised by a hidden eyeball or a hidden leg popping out of my noodles. I just wanted shrimp that looked like shrimp. American shrimp. I know how ridiculous that is, now. I get it, they're just shellfish. But at the time, those shrimp came to represent everything that was difficult or hard about living in another country.
The good news is that after that negotiation phase where everything feels difficult, eventually, you move into the adjustment and finally, adaptation phases. This is where you can finally see the good in both the new and the old, and find ways to integrate them into your current life. Sometimes it takes months and sometimes it takes years. And in some cases, it never actually comes. But in all cases, that culture shock changes us. And if we let it, it can change us in good ways. Well, today we've got two stories about the way these shocks to the system play out in our spiritual lives and how God can use them to help us see ourselves and his plan for us in a new light.
Our first story comes from Kristen, whose experience with culture shock came in two very distinct waves that had everything to do with one another. Here's Kristen.
Kristen: I am definitely the type of person who is pulled into challenging situations so that I can learn and so that I can experience because I am a creature of comfort. I'm not a huge risk-taker. So it takes God kind of pushing me over the edge to go give it a shot.
I am from Las Vegas, Nevada and I currently live just outside of Buffalo, New York with my husband and my two stepkids. And I never in a million years imagined I would live outside of Buffalo, New York with a husband and two stepkids. In Las Vegas, I worked often with the public affairs office or church headquarters, and then when there was a job opening, they kind of asked if I'd be interested in applying and I kept saying no because I loved my life. I had a great life in Las Vegas, I loved my job. I had a house, I had a great ward, I had, you know, I was from Las Vegas, and I loved my crazy hometown. I had no interest in moving. But then one day they called and I was decorating the church gym, it was for Christmas party, the ward Christmas party. And they said, "Hey, we have this job opening, you know, we'd like you to consider it." And I was literally on the ladder in the church gym and I said, "Oh, okay, I'll consider it." I felt like I needed to at least investigate it. I still wasn't thinking it was something I would be interested in, but I went ahead and flew out for the interview. And I remember when they called me to say that out of all the applicants that they wanted me to take the job, and would I consider it and I was standing outside of my office in Las Vegas. And I stood there and I thought, I guess I'm moving to Utah. And it just so matter-of-fact, it was one of those very few times that the directive was that clear for me. And so that's what I did. I picked up and moved to Utah.
I moved to Salt Lake City in January 2014 with me and my dog, I had a chocolate lab named Jazzy. And I didn't really know people in Salt Lake. I didn't really know Salt Lake outside of Temple Square. So it was like moving to truly a foreign place. And when you don't know people, if you're someone like me, I'm more of an introvert than people would imagine. It's always hard to move, no matter where you are, you know, you're excited, you're scared, you're nervous, you can't wait, you get in touch with every single emotion. And so the job itself was really interesting, I think it's very different than most people imagine. When you say that you are a church spokesperson, I think a lot of times they think, it's like you're working at the temple or something like that, but it's really not. So it was different, it was a bit of a culture shock that way. It's tricky. I mean, working in public affairs, or being a church spokesperson is filled with really high highs and really low lows. At least it was for me because you hear the best of things and you get to experience some of the really great things in our religion. But then you also hear the really hard and you feel the really hard, you feel people's anguish over a policy they don't like or when a missionary is hurt or killed on their mission. I mean, you hear it all. So it was, it was challenging on days and some days it was really happy and some days it was really hard.
It's funny, I never expected to be a church spokesperson, I don't think I fit the stereotype of what people expect a church spokesperson to look like. I mean, I obviously don't wear a white shirt and tie, I think people expect that. I was in my 40s, single. I have been known to swear now and then, I drink Dr. Pepper on a daily basis. You know, I just had this whole different life experience. But when I got there, I found out that's exactly why they wanted me was that I wasn't the stereotypical person and I had a different set of experiences. So if you go back in my life to my teenage years, and even my early college years, I definitely had a life plan figured out. And it was a good plan. I'd always wanted to go on a mission, and then I figured I would get married by the time I was 23 or 24. I would have five kids, they would be all boys. I even had like a list of names picked out. And you know, I'd be the stay-at-home mom that had the really good stacks and the fun holiday decor. And I would maybe work at a home decor store so I could get discounts or something. That was my plan for my life. That was, I mean, that was the dream, right? But it didn't turn out that way. I did go on a mission, I went to Ecuador. And I came home, and I went back to school, I still didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up. And I really did fall into public relations. Or I guess I should say, it feels like I fell into public relations, but if we're looking at it with a spiritual lens, I'm quite certain that it was some sort of guidance from God saying, you know, try this out, you'll be good at it, because you're going to need to make a career out of it. That job was very much one of those kinds of situations. Where it was God saying, "Okay, here you go. This is what he had in store for you— go. Here you go." And yeah, my life didn't turn out as I had planned at all. But thank goodness it didn't.
When I first got here, to Utah, I had talked to a couple of people who had worked in this position before me and I had asked them for insight and advice and tips and whatnot. And I remember one of the people had said, "Oh, you're going to need at least three years." It's funny, I didn't quite— I didn't think I felt quite settled, but I remember going home back to Las Vegas on a road trip, and that didn't quite feel like home. And I was eager to get back, I was eager to get back to my little place. And I was eager to get back to my little world that I had created here. And I think that was you know, it was well over a year into it. That was a really interesting feeling for me to feel, you know because I hadn't quite considered Salt Lake home yet. But the fact that I was kind of longing to get back was, was telling to me. I think one of the things that really helped me to feel settled was just some of the people, the amazing people that I was suddenly finding myself surrounded by. That was one thing that really helped me to adjust. And I would say the same about life in Las Vegas or life in Buffalo. It's really made all the difference is the people that you meet along the way and the connections, these very soulful connections, that you make. People cross our paths, and that's not coincidental. For example, one of the friends that I met in Salt Lake, that I do believe that God put right in my path, and at the time, I had no idea why. And this friend was about my same age, she had gotten married in her 40s to someone who had children, she was the second wife. And it became such an important friendship, almost like a mentorship. And so when it came time for me, she was kind of like my wedding coach.
It was interesting, I had kind of sworn off dating for a long time because my job was so stressful. And I never quite knew if people wanted to meet me because they wanted to meet the person in the job or if they wanted to meet me, which was a really interesting position to be in. But with Matt, I remembered his goodness. And I tell people that all the time, I remembered that he was just a really good guy. And he's an even better guy now. But I remembered his goodness. And so that's kind of where I was like, "Well, okay, it's Matt, of course, I'll meet up with him." So I met Matt as a freshman in college in 1991, we lived at Desert Towers, and we became friends freshman year, and we were friends all through college. After my mission is when I had a little crush on him, but he was dating somebody else. And that was that and it was 25 years later, before we ever crossed paths again. So we didn't even cross paths on like social media or anything until after he was divorced. And then the same friends who had tried to set us up and college, set us up again. And that's how we got reconnected. I was living in Salt Lake at the time, he is a law professor in Buffalo. And so when our mutual friends set us up, it was a really quick reconnection. I got married at age 43 and this was in the fall of 2016. And I kind of did everything at once. I got married, became a wife, became a stepmom, moved, left a career—did it all at once. Just rip off the band-aid and go for it, so I dove in big time. And it was a lot. I mean, it is a lot. Those are all big life transitions on their own, but we did it, I did them all at once. My co-workers and I all joke that I was the reverse pioneer. So I move, you know, pack up my stuff and move east this time. And again, it was kind of the if you want to feel every single emotion, move somewhere new, where you don't know anyone. We had to make this work, right? But it was, I felt like it was great for our relationship because it made me just bond really quickly with my husband and with his kids because they were the only people I knew. It's been great, but it's also been really hard for the first, gosh, even the first year, I got physically just sick from the stress and the unknown and the ambiguity that was suddenly in my life. And my job for 20 plus years has been to control situations, you know. And so that is what I'm good at, is to put out the plan, put the implementation plan together, get everything lined up and make it all a great. That has been my job for 20 years. And I thought I was kind of good at it. But here I was, thrown into this new Western New York Life that I had chosen to be part of and I suddenly had none of that. And I was sick all the time, just physically sick from the tension and the ambiguity and the unknown. And I tried to not tell people about that and tried to not make a big deal of it. And I hadn't even told my friends this, but two of my friends that I had made in Salt Lake City, called me up and said, "We're coming out there, here's the dates, are you okay with that?" And I said great. And so they get out there and we spent like a day at the quick care because I had been so sick, I was so dehydrated that they had to take me to the quick care and get IV's and things like that because I had been so physically sick over this. And we jokingly refer to that as their "FEMA Trip," that they were my rescue, they were my FEMA rescuers that weekend.
When Sharon Eubank gave a talk a couple of years ago, she talked about the incident in Florida, where there were two kids that had gotten washed out in the waves. The rescuers couldn't get the kids, but this couple on this, on the shores, saw what was happening and they gathered people together and they formed a human chain of like more than 80 people leading out to these kids. And they were eventually able to rescue those kids. And I think that, especially throughout the past five, six years, so between the time I left Las Vegas, and now the time in Buffalo, I feel like I've been the one out in that wave, in that whirlpool, and there are at least 80 people making that chain to rescue me and to help me through these culture shock periods of my life. And I've been on the receiving end of that and it's been remarkable.
One thing that I now think is kind of funny, at the time it didn't feel very funny. I had never realized how much I associated my job and my career, my paycheck, with my self-worth, until I didn't have that. Because when I moved, I suddenly didn't have a job and I didn't have a career. And that's been a really big adjustment for me, I really didn't realize how much of my own self-worth was tied up into that job. And so it's been really tricky for me to kind of separate those two things and kind of rediscover my worth and the contributions I make and remind myself that I do bring value to the things that I am doing. One day, I remember just feeling a little bit lost. I do some little freelance projects and a little bit of contract work here and there. And I was just thinking, oh, I just really miss having a team. I wish I had a team, I'm so much better when I work within a team to bounce ideas off of people. And the impression came to my mind, "You are in a team. It's Team Dimick." It kind of stopped me dead in my tracks because I do have a team. It's just a whole new team and it's a whole new focus on this team. It's a distinctly different role than I've played in the past. I've never been the wife, I've never been a stepmom before. But that's where God has placed me right now. And I am figuring out how to do it little by little.
There have been a lot of moments when I've thought, "Oh, wow. I don't know anything about this." Like everything from you know, helping my stepdaughter learn how to read better or become more confident in her reading skills, to things like making dinner and having meal plans or budgeting. Like these things that are so every day to most of my friends, because they have been married 25 years. But this is brand new to me. Because before I got married, you know, I spent time working on careers and things and I made a really mean chocolate chip cookie, but I'm telling you I had yogurt and scrambled eggs for dinner most nights. And so I'm finally feeling like, okay, I can make a decent dinner. And I know how to grocery shop now and put together a meal plan for the week. But those even simple things like that were really new to me. I think there have been a lot of little things, little gifts of God's grace or tender mercies that have really helped me see that this is okay, that this is God's path for me. I was taking my stepson to seminary one morning, it was cold and wintery. I mean, and remind you, I live in Buffalo. So it is legit winter. And we were driving, I'm driving him to seminary, it is pitch black and cold. And he got out of the car and ran into the church building. And I started driving back and I just thought, oh wait, this is exactly what I had dreamed of. This is the kind of moment that I had dreamed up. It's different than I thought it would be, but this is still exactly what I had dreamed of. Little things like family moments, dropping kids off at seminary, contributing to something bigger than me, putting together a life with these humans. It's pretty great. Now I can look back and see very clearly, that my move from Las Vegas to Salt Lake was very much a preparation for this next big phase of life because Salt Lake has a winter. Las Vegas winters are like in the 50s, Salt Lake actually had snow. But that was totally preparing me for winter in Buffalo, like I bought my first pair of snow pants in Salt Lake. But just getting through that process of learning how to move and learning how to adjust and learning how to make friends and reestablish a new life was really, really a good preparation for me into this next phase. It was a baby step into transition.
So I think Heavenly Father sometimes has to shock us into new phases of life or new places or new anything. If He needs us to get going, if He needs us to get going further than we think for ourselves, I think sometimes He has to throw these things in our way. Because we are really creatures of comfort, it is easy to be comfortable and not progress as much as maybe we need to or as much as he needs us to. I think that's where the tricky thing comes in, is like how much do we trust that God has a plan for me? When we do trust that, I think that's when it makes it easy for us to—not easy— it makes it clear for us that we need to keep going through the hard, through the scary, through the unknown, because we believe and we trust that God has a bigger plan for us and that He's not going to let us down. Recently, I was worrying about something. By nature, I am a worrier. And so the whole trust thing, even though God has continually helped me through my life, I still worry. I'm trying not to, but I do. But the other day I was in primary helping and they started singing the song, "My life is a gift. My life has a plan. My life has a purpose in heaven it began." And I grabbed my phone as soon as I could and I started recording it. And I've listened to it so many times. And of course, the kids are screaming at the top of their lungs, just like they do. And it is so fantastic. And I just keep thinking, okay, it's that simple. It's that simple. It's, "My life is a gift. My life has a plan. My life has a purpose." And I hope that I can have that same trust and enthusiasm that these little babies can, these little kids can because I really do believe that our heavenly parents have this very distinct plan for us, they're not leaving us hanging. And if it's anything like the rest of my life has been, the plan for the future is going to be more than I ever envisioned for myself, so I better just go along for the ride.
KaRyn: That was Kristen Howey Dimick, a proud member of Team Dimick and former spokesperson for The Church. I think sometimes we assume that a foreign culture is only about geography. But what I loved about Kristen's story was that reminder that we are surrounded by the unique traditions and social customs of others in so many different spaces in our lives. New jobs, new family structures, those can all be very real kinds of culture shock. And as we shuffle our way through the transition, sometimes gracefully, and sometimes, well, not so gracefully, (remember the shrimp?), it's not a bad idea to remember that God is present in the shifting and trust that our ability to navigate in our new culture is filled with His grace. And sometimes that grace is manifest in the kind of friends who spend the weekend with you at the InstaCare.
Our next storyteller is Derek, whose entrance into the MTC, the Missionary Training Center, came with its own brand of culture shock. Here's Derek,
Derek: As I entered the Missionary Training Center for the first time, I looked around at all the other missionaries, and I kind of felt like a fish out of water. I never planned on going on a mission or being involved in the gospel at all. But instead, here I was. How did I end up here? I grew up in a place that had a large population of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and my family, even though we really weren't actively engaged in the gospel, we still went to church because it was the thing to do. Like in a way, we were punch-card-members, you know? We'd punch in and we'd punch out. When I was seven years old, my father had a work injury that really changed our family's lives in a lot of ways. And it made us a lot less mobile and a lot less able to do things that we were usually able to do. And so one of those things that we kind of took out of our lives was church. When I graduated high school, I was hanging out with my friends and doing what I wanted to do. Life was kind of going, you know, in neutral, if you will, but nothing was really happening. Honestly, I always had the question in the back of my mind, what am I doing with my life?
So, I was sitting at home, and I heard someone knock at the door. And a guy was there, who was dressed in a suit, he was in his like, mid-40s and he asked to speak with me inside. So I said, "Okay, sure, I guess." And at that point, I knew he was from the church. My friends were all trying to get me to go to church. And so I'm like, oh, maybe this guy is from, from the ward, and he wanted to talk with me about going to church. So he sat down and he started to tell me that he was my home teaching companion. And I said, "I'm not sure I'm following here, but I don't go to church."
And he said, "That's okay. You don't have to go to church to be my companion." And he said, "I'd like to go on some visits with you if that's okay, to some of these families."
And I said, "I don't think I'm going to do that, I'm sorry. But thank you, I appreciate the offer."
And he says, "Well, I have your number, so why don't I send you a text every once in a while, let you know when I'm going. And if you feel up to it, then we can go."
So, I said, "Alright, cool." And then he left. A couple weeks later, he sends me a text and says,
"Do you want to come see this family with me? No pressure, you don't have to teach or anything."
And I said, "No, I'm fine." So this went on for like a month or two where he just would text me randomly and say, hey, I'm going to go visit these people, do you want to come along?" And I'm just still confused on why this guy's even texting. I just didn't understand it. And one night, I got this text and I was like, all right, let's see what he wants, sure. And he said, "Hey, no teaching tonight but do you want to go out for dinner? I'm hungry, are you?" I was usually out with my friends, but I was home and I was hungry. I'm always hungry. I said, "All right, that's fine. Let's do this."
We go out to a restaurant and he actually took the time to talk to me instead of wanting me just to come to the next event or whatever. Nobody has ever done that for me. I want to say a month later or so, he sent me a message saying, "Hey, just a little reminder, I'm going to see a family. Do you want to come?" And I just had to say yeah. I just really liked his company and he just was really nice to me. And I'm like, "You know what? Why not? I've got a free night. I'll give it a shot." So I went to go see this family. And we talked to them, had a great time, actually. And as time kept going on, I kept going. And I started to really fall in love with this teaching thing. This was kind of cool to me. Well, one night, he was dropping me off. He just sat in my driveway with me and we just talked about everything. And in my mind, I was always still thinking about what was happening in my life. Was I progressing, was I doing anything with my life? And he must have had a spiritual impression to talk to me about that. Because he started to really pick apart my issues and say, "What are you doing with your life?" I told him, I have no idea. It's a great question. He said, "You should go on a mission."
I said, "I don't know about that. I've got a girlfriend, I've got a job, I'm probably gonna go to college." And he just was really nice and supportive and said, "You know what, College is a great, great thing. And I think you should stick with that." And then he said, "But I really feel like you would do so well on a mission. I feel like you can touch people's hearts in a different way than anybody else. I feel like if you go, there's going to be somebody that will need you and only you." And it was a little heavy for me. I remember thinking about my mom, even though we weren't active in the church at all, my mom still said prayers every night without fail. I knew that because I walked into a room plenty of times while she was praying. And so I wanted to give this a shot. Got down on my knees and I said a prayer and I said, "Heavenly Father, please just guide me to where you want me to read so I can get whatever answer I need to get out of this sense of confusion." I said "Amen" and I opened it up, it was the Book of Mormon, and all I read, and I didn't know much about the Book of Mormon, but it was talking about the Nephites and the Lamanites, and they're going to war. An impression that I felt was "Whose side are you on? Are you on the Lord's side? Are you on Satan's side?" And it hit me hard. So at that point, I just really felt prompted to say another prayer, but this time, get on my knees and say one vocally and start talking to Heavenly Father, because if He gave me that kind of answer, then maybe He can give me more. So I got on my knees and I started saying a prayer. I just started feeling that I really needed to do something with my life. And that thing was actually to go on a mission. The first people I told were my parents. And initially, they were both a little shocked, because they never thought that I would go. It was funny because my mom was actually very skeptical. Because I mean, she even looked at me and said, "Wait a second, I'm not sure if I'm speaking to my son. You know, I'm a little confused here, where my son go?" And I said, "No, this is real. This is really what I want to do." And they both embraced me and gave me so much love and support.
The next person I wanted to tell was my home teaching companion that kind of helped me get to this point. And I simply told him, like, Let's meet for lunch, I got something to tell you. And so we went to a place to sit down and eat. And he said, "So what's this all about what's going on?"
And I just said, "I want to go on a mission." And I remember he just, he stopped eating his lunch. I think he dropped his fork, like actually, physically dropped the fork. And he was like, "You're lying to me, you're pulling my leg, this can't be real." And I said, "No, it's it's real."
We both started to cry together. Because this was something that he knew that I needed, and other people needed. And I knew that I needed it to.
And so after that, I told my Bishop and said, "Hey, I'd like to prepare to go on a mission." And obviously, he was shocked. And he said, "Well, I guess we need to get started on the process of going." And so, you know, I went through the repentance process, and I started to do the right things so that I could prepare to go. And so he said, "You know, I have some scriptures for you to read. And also I'd like you to go into mission preparation classes." This was about March or April or so. And so we were a little bit into the year, and I kind of missed out on some of the lessons. And I didn't really know what was going on necessarily, because it was all kind of new to me. But I felt like I was getting so much more knowledge and it was amazing. And as I was going through these classes and kind of meeting my Bishop every week, you know, I expressed to him that I just don't know if I have enough knowledge to go on a mission. I just didn't know if I did. And he looked at me, he says, "You know what, a talk just came out recently by Elder Neil L. Andersen, it's called 'You Know Enough.' Go home and read that. And I just want you to know that you do know enough, that you've got this." So, for the next 60 days, I just prepared as much as I could, getting as much knowledge as I could. And in August, I left on my mission.
In the Missionary Training Center, you do a lot of role-play teaching, where you teach other missionaries the lessons that are in "Preach My Gospel" and help them to teach you back so that you're ready to go out in your mission field. I remember we were about to teach the first lesson, which talks about the restoration of the church, and I remember just reading over it and being like, "Oh yeah, I got this. This is fine. The restoration, Joseph Smith, First Vision, lots of things, I knew a lot of that. And so I said my part and then my companion took over. He started talking about the Book of Mormon, and how the Book of Mormon was the writings of the ancient people here in America about Jesus Christ. And I looked over and I was like, wait, what? I kind of did like this doubletake. And I was so blown away because I had no idea that the Book of Mormon, the whole thing is actually about the people here on the American continent. I had no clue. Talk about culture shock. The one key piece of our gospel is the Book of Mormon, and I had no idea that the entire thing was based here.
Another experience I had in the Missionary Training Center, we were all gathered together for a devotional, all the missionaries were gathered together. And the opening hymn was a hymn that I'd never heard of, and it's "Hope of Israel." And I remember all the missionaries, every single one of them, at least I felt like, all of them were seeing with such fervor and such power. And they were all like— it's like they've known this since they were young. And I was clueless. And I just sat there in silence, looking at all the other missionaries and I knew at that point that this is definitely something that I'm going to have to work on, you know. And that I didn't, I didn't have a lot of the knowledge that I feel like all the other Elders and Sisters had. As I progressed on my mission, I finally read the Book of Mormon, all the way, cover to cover and I was able to feel that it was true, instead of just having a little scriptures here and there. There was a quote from Elder Andersen's talk, "You Know Enough," that I always kept with me, that helped me to keep going and to feel like I actually was doing the right thing. And he said, "Nearly 40 years ago, as I contemplated the challenge of a mission, I felt very inadequate and unprepared. I remember praying, 'Heavenly Father, how can I serve a mission when I know so little?' I believed in the church, but I felt my spiritual knowledge was very limited. As I prayed, the feeling came, 'you don't know, everything, but you know enough.' That reassurance gave me the courage to take the step into the mission field."
You know, when I first read this, I thought, wow, like, what he was going through 40 years ago, was the exact same thing that I was going through right now. That quote helped me to conquer all these feelings of inadequacy and lack of understanding. This whole experience really taught me a lot about myself. And even though I didn't have all the lingo and all the knowledge of the gospel, and all the songs memorized, or any of that, my desire to serve the Lord and my desire to be a disciple of Jesus Christ was enough. And I'm so grateful for that.
KaRyn: That was Derek. While Derek's experience at the MTC was definitely unique, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find any returned missionary who didn't think going on a mission was a shock to their system. I actually think it's built that way on purpose. Truly, truly, because transformative experiences require a sort of humility that is quickly invoked when we have to rely upon the Lord for everything. And what better way to invite us to be humble than to give us moments where, as Derek put it, we are truly fish out of water.
I don't know about you, but I hate to feel stupid. Nothing makes me feel stupider than being wrong. And there's nothing that can make you feel more wrong, and bumping up against a different way of moving in the world. Because if my Korean friends can eat their shrimp with those big dangly black eyes and 4 million legs on them, and I can't, what does that mean about me? My anger during the negotiation phase of culture shock was often a result of my fear of being wrong. That fear may have been irrational most of the time, but it was still present, I had to deal with it. And here's what's amazing about that talk that Derek shared from Elder Neil Andersen, at the beginning of the talk, Elder Andersen says, "You don't know everything, but you know enough." That tightrope act of not knowing everything, but still knowing enough requires that we let our Father in Heaven guide our steps when we're faced with surprising new situations and experiences. A while ago, I was in Florida for work, and we attended a sacrament meeting in a ward that was filled with so many different cultures. If you've ever been to South Florida, you understand this. There were so many different ways of understanding the world present in that one room. And everything in the meeting seemed totally normal, completely in line with the church culture that I was accustomed to. But when it came time to bless the sacrament, the young men in that ward did not get up and stand in neat rows in front of the sacrament table like I was used to. Instead, they gathered around the table tightly, shoulder to shoulder with one or two boys even standing on the steps of the rostrum to get closer. It looked like a football huddle. And everything in me wanted to say, "Whoa, whoa whoa, that's not how you do it. Line up, get in line." But the spirit pierced my heart and told me just watch, see things in a new light. As they prayed and blessed those Sacrament emblems, suddenly, I understood that ordinance better than I had ever before. This was a family feast and those were Christ's children circled as close as they could, to the body and blood of our Savior. They were rejoicing together, celebrating the beauty of that shared and yet miraculously individual touch of the Master's hand through the sacrament. And I was humbled because I don't know everything. And in fact, my way of doing things isn't the only way to do things. But I do know enough to know that God was present in that huddle. Culture shock is a gift, an opportunity to let down our carefully guarded walls and our ever-present need to be right so that we can see things differently. Maybe, more importantly, so that we can see ourselves differently. And when the honeymoon is over, and we're done negotiating, we can find adjustment and adaptation through God's greatest gift, the grace of Jesus Christ's atonement, which is actually the only culture that truly unites us all.
That's it for this episode of "This is the Gospel." Thank you to Kristen and Derek for sharing their stories. We will have the transcript of this episode as well as the links to Elder Andersen's talk and Kristen's best advice for surviving big life transitions in our show notes at ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel. You can find the episode on the list and then the show notes are on the individual page, so go there and check it out. We love hearing from you on our pitch line. If you have a story to share, leave us a short three-minute pitch at (515) 519-6179. You can find more about this episode and what themes we're working on right now by following us on Instagram and Facebook @thisisthegospel_podcast. And now that we're back in the full swing of the season, would you do us a favor? Will you please share your experience with the podcast on Apple or Bookshelf PLUS+ by leaving us a review? We have instructions on how to leave a review on the website if you're new to it. We really do read every single one and they are an important way for us to get your feedback and help other people find the podcast.
This episode was produced by me, KaRyn Lay with story producing and editing from Kelly Campbell. It was scored mixed and mastered by Mix at Six studios and our executive producer is Erin Hallstrom. You can find past episodes of this podcast and other LDS Living podcasts at ldsliving.com/podcasts. Have a great week!