As Jody and I deplaned and set foot in South Korea for the very first time, we braced for the differences we might find in the culture, the climate and the people. We had practiced Korean phrases to use to get around Seoul, and hoped we were ready for this adventure. We were surprised by the differences in skylines and were shocked by the heat and humidity, whew, was it hot, but we were not shocked by the people. The people were different but familiar at the same time.
On our first full day in country, Jody and I enjoyed a lunch at a small restaurant inside a South Korean museum. We were waiting for our Kimchi fried rice and people watching. There was a table about 10 feet away that hosted a typical family- Dad, Mom and 4 children ranging in age from 3 to 13, if I had to guess. The Dad’s order came out first and he began to happily eat. The Mom and children’s orders were a few minutes later. The Mom, in true Mom fashion, began to divvy up the food, she cut the meat and veggies with really BIG scissors that she pulled out of her purse, I guess! She was careful to make sure the kids had everything they needed, then, finally, she began to eat. Typical lunch scene anywhere in the US, minus the chopsticks and the giant scissors. Watching the scene unfold, I was reminded how very similar we all are. Children everywhere are the same. Moms, too. Dads, as well. During the lunch, the Mom corrected one child for playing with his food and asked another child to stop talking and finish eating. Or at least that is what it looked like she said to them based on the children’s responses. And the oldest, a preteen daughter, rolled her eyes when the Mom turned away from the children to speak to her husband. Yes, we are all the same! OH, the joys of parenting.
“Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world! Red, yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
I was blown away with how similar we all really are- in spite of the distance between our countries and the obvious language differences. On another occasion we sat next to a young husband and wife and their two-year-old son at a buffet dinner. The mother and father were obviously having words as to who was going to help the child with his meal and whose turn it was to go to the buffet and enjoy the delicious cuisine. It was comical because I have watched this same conversation happen with my own husband and now between my adult children with kiddos of their own. At one point her husband excused himself to go the restroom and when he returned 10+ minutes later she looked down at her watch and gave him a ration of words, none of which sounded like “poor baby- do you feel better?” Every Momma knows exactly how long it takes to do anything, and a luxurious pooh is frowned upon on every continent when you are out with a toddler! LOL
There were a few differences though. The first difference that comes to mind was something I noticed in every bathroom I visited. Every Korean restroom had the picture of a person “squatting” on top of the toilet and the verbiage of “don’t do this” on the inside of the stall door or over the toilet. (See picture) I’ve never known anyone who preferred squatting to sitting, but now I guess I do. Now, given that the only true squatty potty I saw was at a Buddhist Temple I toured, where a majority of congregants were 75+ years old and older, I am given to believe it is the generation of older Koreans who may prefer the squatting method and that modern society is trying to discourage them. I’m sure it is tough on the pretty white potty seats. 😊
Second difference, is an enviable one, friends. Korean women eat massive amounts of food, not at all like the two sprigs of spinach leaf American women eat. Now, I have raised good sized boys, so I know a good healthy appetite when I see it, and I saw it every time we sat down to eat! At the buffet on the evening cruise (We Have the answers in our pocket) I watched tiny little gals go back for massive plates of food 3 and 4 times over a two-hour window. They ate Jody under the table. Impressive. The Korean women are still very petite, actually I did not meet an overweight Korean during our entire trip. Jealous with a capital “J.”
Sidebar: I have decided it is the kimchi that keeps them all thin. They eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. First thing I did when I returned home was buy a kimchi kit from Amazon. My very first batch is fermenting while I type this post! Yummy – and let me see if after eating it 3 meals a day for a few weeks if I can squeeze into a size 6! 😊 Now, I didn’t say “again” because I don’t believe I ever was a size 6!
But let me dream, sweet friends!
There were many more similarities than differences. I connected with several Korean women and felt a close kinship. Women are the same on the inside everywhere you find yourself. Women care about and care for their children and have a heart for their homes. So, although I was 6 or more inches taller than most Koreans I met, I felt like I belonged. Kindred souls.
So, Peter opened his mouth and said, “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality,
but in every nation anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him.”
CELEBRATE THE SIMILARITIES AND THE DIFFERENCES
I always try to look for the ways I am like others. It helps me when I am meeting a group of new people for the first time. I believe I started this habit when I was a young kid. It is easier to like people who are like you. Sounds sad, but I believe it is true. It is the basis of empathy- being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. If you don’t see any similarities it is easier to dismiss them and then not be equipped to embrace their differences.
The dislike or distrust of people who are different, is the reason why racism and sexism still exists. People want to look at someone and see a mirror reflection of themselves. They do not want to see someone totally different. Maybe it stems from fear, I don’t know. But this aversion to the differences affect all relationships and is one of the reasons why marriage can be hard, too.
Jody is from Mars and I most definitely am from Venus. We look at every problem with very different eyes and draw very different solutions based on our own life experiences. This was especially true when we first married.
Jody and I came from different backgrounds and it affected how we processed information and our view of the world. Jody was raised by great people, but they were infrequent church attenders and I was brought up by two beautiful, Jesus freaks 😊! I saw everything as a spiritual battle and Jody did not. Today, after a shared history for 33 years, chasing after Jesus, hand in hand, we think alike on most things. The few areas that are still different- I relish! 😊 Differences need to be celebrated, diversity does make us a stronger couple.
If we spent more time looking at others through the eyes of Jesus, all worthy of His loving sacrifice, so many problems in our home and church would cease to exist!
What would happen if you rolled over in the morning, looked at your sleeping spouse and thought “I love all the things that God loves about you!” I believe it would frame the rest of the day with the cross! It would not allow small infractions to turn couples into the “Bickersons,” but instead back into the loving couple God describes in His Word in 1 Corinthians 13! Patient, kind, no record of wrongs! From the vantage point of the cross, we would live our marriage in unity. Imagine what God can do with a couple who serves Him in unity! It would be mind blowing!
This will only happen when husbands and wives value their sameness and can fully embrace their differences. We are all children of God, made in His image. (Genesis 1:27) We are all saved by grace, bound for glory, no free rides or second class citizens in the family of God. (Ephesians 2:8-9) And while our eternity is the same, we are created very differently, to serve different purposes.
Jody has always been someone who is looking outward or forward. He is focused on our financial resources for the future, the ways in which the government can impact us and the protection of the truth of God’s Word on the church and community. My focus has always been more internal. I have my finger on the pulse of our family, both biologic and spiritual children. I am sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s nudging and will call out and willingly shepherd the hearts of those around me. Together, Jody and I walk in unity, designed differently, but use our gifts for the advancement of the Kingdom of God. Inter-dependent, not independent. (Complementarianism)
BODY OF CHRIST
The same should be said for the church. A place where many different cultures and backgrounds coexist. The body of Christ is made up of so many parts, each and every one valuable and essential. I am thankful that when I enter into worship on Sunday mornings the church has the same objective-Glorify the Name of Jesus! I am OK with how different this may look. Actually, I love that it looks different. I am an extroverted person in life and worship- I am free to raise my hands in demonstration of the surrender that is happening each and every day in my life. I am thrilled by the reverent worship of my introverted husband with his head bowed in humble submission. I love the energetic sway of the lady standing in front of me at church and the Mom off to the right who is quietly holding her sleeping baby, with eyes shut softly singing praises to the King of Kings. If we were all doing the exact same thing, I would worry about our motivation. We have not all had the same walk. Those delivered from drug addiction may even have a more jubilant worship because of their understanding of God’s power first hand. While those in the midst of heavy trials, may be doing good to remain standing and sing silently in their hearts afraid that if they open their mouths the river of tears welling up inside may slip down their cheeks. No judgement for any approach, only understanding for the differences in our brother’s and sister’s journeys.
Imagine the church who chose to see each brother and sister like Christ does- washed in the blood, fully purchased! And what if the church trusted the Holy Spirit inside of each member- such unity would be unstoppable. Each person encouraged to bring a psalm, a word or an exhortation. Not passive worship, but true fellowship with the Father in the context of family. May the fear of someone being too emotional never quench the spirit, but instead, may we truly embrace each other and trust that God is in control.
What if we were quick to see the Jesus in each other and ignore the denominational lines? Anarchy or a little bit of heaven on earth!
“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.”
Philippians 2:1-2 NASB
I look forward to the glorious day, when we see Jesus face to face and we worship our Father in Spirit and truth! All nations, husband and wives, male and female, adults and children, old saints and new converts- singing and praising in one accord. I long for that day! No hate, only palpable love!
Celebrate the differences and similarities with your brothers and sisters in Christ and celebrate them with your precious spouse, too! Then on our knees, may we all worship King Jesus!
Stay washed in the word, my friends and keep reading!
Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people;
once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
1 Peter 2:10