When in Rome...
I have grappled with two perspectives I want to talk about.
1. Are you familiar with the saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans”? Here are a couple experiences that have caused me to really give this statement some thought.
A few years ago, we met an African woman visiting friends of ours in Hawaii. We connected with her quickly, spending a few days together. She invited us to her country, with a word of advice for me. She knew we had plans to visit her country and my husband, Dick, was asked to preach. She told me I needed to wear a dress to their church services because if my clothes were not culturally similar to theirs, the congregation would not listen to what my husband had to say.
Another example is when Dick went to Nigeria on a mission trip years ago. His friend, Phil, was traveling with him. Before the meetings were to start, they were taken to a seamstress and were measured for the appropriate clothes to wear. I am posting a picture to emphasize my point. As you can see, they weren’t given a choice of fabric or style.
As I have thought about it, I realize this same principle is at work even in my marriage. If I want Dick to really understand and hear my heart, I have to learn to speak in a way he can hear me…and vice versa. It is true, I must learn to speak the language of the one I am trying to communicate with. I Corinthians 9:22 says, “I have become all things to all people…”
2. Conversely, as an American, I think it is more common to hear someone say, “People will just have to accept me the way I am.”
I believe God created me to be unique with my own spunky personality. A major part of my journey in life has been bringing me to a place of freedom to just be myself. I like who I have become today. I am still a work in progress, but I would not want to give that up. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation”. I like that!
So, I have found both statements to be true when I am making a connection with people. Maybe I need to ask myself several questions. Who is my audience? What is my purpose? What is my setting? I believe I need to be sensitive to others. Life is not all about me. I once heard someone say there are two ways to enter a room filled with people. Upon entering, one will say, “I’m here!” The other one will say, “There you are!” I want to respond like the second one.
On the other hand, it is necessary to take care of myself. I have learned the hard way, whether spiritually, emotionally or physically, there are certain things I will not change in order to fit in or please someone. If I am taking a walk, no matter what country I am in, I will be wearing my American purchased walking shoes. They may not be attractive or culturally correct, but believe me; they are staying on my feet!
I would love to hear your thoughts! ~ Donna Sorenson
My testimony is the process I’ve experienced going from fear to freedom when God sent me out of my comfort zone, to 30 countries to minister with my husband. As I began to travel internationally, fears I never recognized before were suddenly blown into large obstacles before me. One by one, God, in His great love, set me free from this bondage and gave me His peace. I know others experience all kinds of fear and I want to share with them the hope that Jesus gives.
Donna married her high school sweetheart 53 years ago. They have been in full-time Christian ministry for over 50 years. After pastoring churches in Texas, Missouri and Idaho, they traveled internationally for 25 years, working with missionaries and national leaders. She now lives in Boise, Idaho, where she enjoys being surrounded by her kids, grandkids, great-granddaughter, another great-grandchild on the way and extended family.