Do not Conform

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Last week I went to visit my sister, Jenny (her blog is http://jbryans.wordpress.com/).  We grew up in a conservative home.  We often did not have a television (although we would watch at our friend’s houses).  We went to public school for a few years, then private school for 5 years and then back to public school.  Our lives revolved around church and church activities.  If the boys in our church wanted to play baseball then the church started two teams so they could play every week against each other.  And everyone attended the games whether you had a kid playing or not because it was a church activity.  We didn’t just show up on church nights, we attended prayer meetings and fellowship nights too.  It was our way of life. It was a nice size church with between 200 and 400 people…I’m totally guessing.

The ladies at our church wore their hair in up hairdos that very likely involved some “hair” padding (mom would keep the wads of hair she cleaned off her hairbrush and stuff it into her updo to get that beehive look).  They didn’t cut their hair.  They wore dresses well below their knees because everyone knows that ladies knees are not that attractive but a man might see them and lust anyway.  They only wore skirts or dresses, not blue jeans or slacks or shorts for our ladies.  They could wear colates (sp??  it’s not showing up in my spell check) or “split skirts” or gauchos…whatever you choose to call them.  The men didn’t wear shorts either.  And they didn’t have beards and they didn’t swear or smoke or drink beer.

I remember when I went to kindergarten and 1st and 2nd grade at public school that I wore shorts under my dresses at P.E. time so as not to flash my class.

All of that was our norm.

As we got older, we attended a church that was less strict on physical appearance.  Our lives still revolved around church.

I can remember a time in my life when I thought to myself “I’m naive.” and “These friends are so sophisticated compared to me.”   Maybe I was a little naive but they weren’t so sophisticated.  The truth is, I had some friends who were worldly.  I can remember conversations in the bathroom on youth group night that shocked me, even made me blush.  I remember the first time I heard a girl really cuss.  Yes, I was shocked.  When I found out some of my high school friends were having sex.  I was completely blown away.  I thought everyone waited to get married to have sex (yes, at that time, that’s what I thought).  I’m glad.  I am so glad that these things were so shocking to me.  Some things should shock us.

My sister and I  were chatting about growing up and some of our old friends which led us to talking about friends who were married and now aren’t and how sad it was.  We thought about those teenage friends and how worldly some of them were and how naive we were.  We ended up thinking maybe what we thought was “sophisticated” was really just worldly and worldly doesn’t lead to abundant life.

We talked about how we could keep our kids innocent in the world today.  And how we hope they stay kids for a long while.

The Hubs and I have some friends who home school their kids.  Their kids are the kindest, most polite, and least worldly kids we know.  I’m not saying “home school kids” are less worldly than kids who go to public school.  I’ve watched these girls around other kids their ages and I’ve seen the other girls flirting and acting dramatic…you know things young girls do to get attention and the other girls seem so shallow and well, somewhat worldly. So much of it has to do with the sexualization of girls in the world today.  Seriously, when I was a 10 years old there were no “tweens” and I was out riding my bike not trying to get my mom to allow me to wear makeup (oh, yeah, the ladies in our church didn’t wear makeup either).   Does this mean my kids won’t go to public school?  Not necessarily.  Does it mean my kids will watch shows and movies I’ve previewed…yes.  Does it mean my kids will dress appropriately when going anywhere…yes (I DETEST miniskirts and bikinis…seriously, why are we sexualizing our young girls??).  Does it mean I will know who my kids friends are and will I guide them to friendships with kids that are less worldly….you bet.  Because I would rather have a kid who doesn’t quiet “fit” with this “world” than one who exposed too early to too much.

Growing up, I wanted to “fit in” and I wanted everyone to like me and I didn’t want to be “different” than the other kids.  I wanted to wear shorts to P.E.  You know what…maybe it wasn’t “comfortable” for me to be the girl in my class who didn’t have bangs because I wasn’t allowed to cut my hair but I learned that being different is okay.  I learned that I can be around worldly people and not be worldly.  I learned that it is okay if everyone doesn’t like me.  There are some people in life that I should not be best friends with…that’s okay.  My parents encouraged us to be social and have friends.  They encouraged us to get an education and do something with our lives.  We weren’t hiding up rocks and in a compound in the desert but we were a little different.

If you find that your kids isn’t quiet “fitting in” be okay with that.  Maybe your kid is the light in that worldly situation.  It’s okay to not “fit” with the world.  Teach them there is “right” and “wrong” and to stand up for “right” even if it isn’t the popular opinion.  Somewhere in the Bible it says, (and I looked for it…maybe my dad can help me out here) we are to be in the world but not of the world.  Allow them to learn that it is okay not to “fit” in some situations.  Not only is it okay to not conform to this world, we are commanded by God not to conform (Romans 12:2).  Teach them to be leaders not followers.   One day they will have to live in this world and you won’t be there to monitor what they watch and who they let into their lives.  When that day comes, they will choose not to conform.

I made decisions as a young woman that were completely worldly.  Even in my worldliness, there were moments when I felt so strongly, “I wasn’t made for this”, “This is not me”, and basically uncomfortable.  I felt more uncomfortable around worldly things and worldly people than I did around my family even thought I was doing the worldly things.

That’s the thing…if you raise a child to not be worldly, even if they stray they will not be comfortable in their worldliness.

Teach them now not to conform.

(and that’s my rant for today! )

 

 

5 thoughts on “Do not Conform

  1. Rob

    I too grew up in a family that was deeply rooted in a fundamental Pentecostal religion, heard thousands of sermons on what we should look like and how we should act, and had parents who firmly enforced those concepts. However, when I saw the preacher’s kids acting like heathens on Saturday night and then so very religious on Sunday, I decided the whole thing was a bad joke and went off to seek my fortune with the rest of fallen humanity.

    It was only when I came to a point of absolute desperation for reality in my life that I started seeking Jesus again, and found Him. He is REAL, and the more I found of Him, the more I wanted, until one day I realized I had come full circle. I was asking Him: “what can I do to get closer to You? How should I change my activities, my mental input, my lifestyle, so that You and only You are my life?”

    Looking back, I realize that many of the things I was taught as a child actually are relevant, but not because somebody forced me to adherence, instead they are milestones on my spiritual journey to God. Ultimately we cannot mandate morality, or a lifestyle, but we can teach our children to seek Jesus. If they learn to do that, all these other things will be added to them…

  2. Erica G

    Great post. One of the things I like to share with my clients, friends and even remind myself, is that it is our job to teach our children What is Right. The world will have no problem teaching them What is Wrong. I agree that we are in this world but not of this world. I think that’s in John…maybe 17. Those are the expectations that Michael and I have for our children. Someone once told us something to the effect of, our son “was going to do bad things or try drugs and we’d deal with it and move on”. I had to cast that down very quickly! :) How dare you speak such things into the life of my son, I thought. I will not receive that into his life. Now for someone who’s living “in the world”, this is probably so true and so acceptable. Perhaps even a lesson learned. We, only expect those things that God wants for them. We’re not going to “expect” our kids to try drugs, to be disobedient or to speak to people any way they’d like based on “self-expression”. God has entrusted us with our children to teach them about Him and how to love Him. Everything else is just details, as they say.

  3. Erica, I love that “set the expectation”. It is like taking your child to the grocery store. They say not to tell your kid, “you aren’t going to jump around, run around, ask for things, etc” when we go in here. It is better to say, “We are going to run in here, you are going to act good, hold onto the buggy (or whatever you want them to do) and we aren’t buying anything extra.” Set the positive expectation you expect.

    In fostering, they have taught us to tell the kids, “In our family we…(fill in the blank)” so they know what you expect. One of our huge things right now is, “In our family we tell each other the truth.”

    I love what Rob wrote too about how things taught to us as a child are relevant to our lives today. Reminds me of how throughout Proverbs the Bible puts three things together, “Wisdom, knowledge and Understanding”. We have to get the knowledge into our kids so they can understand (Job says that understanding is “doing”) and exercise Wisdom. We have to give the knowledge of what is right and what isn’t. Just as the Old Testament gave us the law…the law judges between right and wrong…it reveals the wrong so we may live “right”.

    I don’t want my kids to be comfortable about people doing drugs, drunkards, promiscuous people, people who curse or gossip. I want them to be most comfortable around family and the church. I want them to say about our family and about the church, “these are my people”.

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