Culture is the water we swim in, though we often take it for granted. All the same, it shapes our worldview and beliefs – playing a significant role in how we eat, work, celebrate, make love, and die. And considering our various cultures gives us the freedom to determine how to best integrate them throughout our life.
By definition culture is simply our shared meaning. It’s the way we do things and approach life that connects us with certain groups of people. This might be our family, church community, geographical region, age, or any number of other social identities. For example, each family is its own microculture, those in the South have a different culture than those in the North, and each generation forms its own type of culture as well.
To be sure, there’s a sense in which we’re all multicultural. And this sets us up for many clashes of culture throughout our life and relationships.
For instance, whether in marriage, friendship, or with our fellow neighbors, many of the conflicts we run into are because our cultural assumptions are bumping into the cultural assumptions of the other. What we take for granted is not the case with everyone else.
As such, we’re prone to stay stuck until we can step back and consider how our own culture is influencing how we show up. This is not to judge one as right and the other as wrong. But it is to bring to light our many hidden assumptions.
For example, what we consider as recreational and fun might not carry this same meaning for the other. But knowing this helps us not to vilify each other or take it personally when we simply do things differently. And we can also now freely consider how to best dance with each other given our differences.
In the end, culture shapes our approach to life and relationships in many subtle and often hidden ways. Considering the various waters you swim in allows you greater freedom in navigating your differences.