Maybe if I turn the flat iron this way. “Ouch! Damn it!” Well, I’ll just run the iron straight down and then perhaps this section will flip the right way…
“Oh, c’mon on hair!” Where’s my gel?
Too bad we can’t put gel on our kids to make them go in the right direction. Hair styling is way easier than child training ’cause our hair strands don’t talk back. (But those greys. Ever been tempted to just pull one out? I mean, what the heck? They do like to stand out, don’t they?)
Nonconformity is one of my favorite topics. Trends, groupthink, and cultural traditions are entrenched in the bedrock of our formed identities. Complying with what everyone else does and how everyone else thinks is easier than standing alone. Who really has the energy to challenge accepted norms or resist the temptation to do what feels natural. Like with my kids–playing with balls around the furniture feels natural. No matter how many times, I give them a consequence, their childish lack of restraint wins. I wish my eye-hand coordination coupled with Elasta-girl arms could reach midair to catch these balls that seem to come out of hiding. At one time they began throwing a baseball made from aluminum foil across the kitchen and continued even after it came within an inch of knocking over my water bottle and landing in the pot of chili.
Self-restraint is a muscle that we have to develop. I want my kids to be adults who practice self-restraint, and more importantly, are secure enough in their God ordained identity that they do not let the world dictate or define how they should live and what they should think.
I am raising non-conformists of the godly sort.
Complying with what everyone else does and how everyone else thinks is easier than standing alone.
In high school, I prided myself on resisting the groupthink despite my internal longing to be accepted. My differences were glaring anyway. Black violist. Clique-less. A’s in Latin I and II. Fitting the mold just wasn’t viable. College was no different. After trying to be and do like everyone else for two and a half years, I hit rock bottom and wanted to end my life. And I tried.
After drinking those shots and unsuccessfully trying to slit my wrist, I realized that I’d been burying my God-ordained uniqueness under the “should” of a demon named Status Quo. I identified with C.S. Lewis when he said, “What I call my “self” now is hardly a person at all. It’s mainly a meeting place for various natural forces, desires, and fears, etcetera, some of which come from my ancestors, and some from my education, some perhaps from devils.” (I’d add my culture, society, neighborhood…)
I was tired of trying to fit it and be approved. The excitement of pre-parties, after-parties, sorority pledging was lost on me. Everyone else lived to do what everyone else was doing. So I became a bit of a loner at the end of my 3rd year of college. During this dark time, I realized that God had a purpose for me that was far more exciting that being accepted and known by the world around me. So I rededicated my life to the Lord and began to ask, “Who am I created to be and what is my God-inspired passion?”
These questions were answered as I became a wife and mom and learned how to respond to God as a daughter.
Jesus. Prayer. Healing. Family. Fixing things. Being known, not for any role or position, but for the essence of who I am. As far as my hair…these natural curls that don’t always turn in the direction I want…I will respect them. I won’t make them fit into a “should”.
Resist the world’s “should”. Culture and society have become gods. Idols that beckon our worship. The latest trends are adopted without us vetting them. Ask the questions that no one else is asking! 5G – Are there health risks? TikTok – How much will I have to screen my screen? Hashtag movements. Ideologies. The newest song, TV show or video game. Do they draw me closer or farther from God’s truth and how He wants me to re-present Him?
For me, the issue of nonconformity has never been one of rebellion or outward zeal. Maybe it is my Enneagram number, but I don’t need to make a visual statement to celebrate who I think I am.
Nonconformity as a reaction to rejection is not what God wants. That response, although understandable, is unhealthy. Subtle and stealth as the serpent, reaction-based nonconformity undermines the process of sincere self-discovery. And when I say self-discovery, I mean finding out who God imagined you to be before He put you in your mother’s womb. (Read Psalm 139:13-18, but the whole chapter is good!) I am still realizing who I am versus who others want me to be. I contend every day with “shoulds”...if you are a real author you should….(do like them); if you want to be a successful woman you should (do this). The only thing I should do is represent Jesus Christ in what I say and what I do. This is what Doug and I try to teach our kids. To imitate Christ. Not their friends or who they see on TV. This encouragement will continue until they are adults. Here’s why:
God ordained human development to be a process of becoming. Children are not adults, they become adults–physically, emotionally, and mentally. (So children cannot make healthy life-altering decisions in regards to gender!) We have to realize that Satan is an image-stealer and destiny-destroyer even in the womb. I will write about this topic sometime, but until the frontal lobe of a child’s brain is mature and they meet Jesus Christ, they will not realize that their individuality is a gift given by God to defy serpentine ideas that seek to destroy the image of God that they bear. We must teach our children to find out what God wrote in their books (v.16). We need to do this for ourselves as well. Discover our God-breathed distinctiveness. Our divine purpose. Nonconformity resists being made into an image defined by man. God wants us to resist conforming to the world and its ways. (Romans 12:2) This process involves shaking off “the old man” after we are born again, renewing our minds from ungodly ideas, and embracing Jesus’ way of living and loving that contrasted the accepted norms of His time.
You have heard the popular phrase, “Be You!” The only problem with this phrase is what if the current “you” isn’t the person that God envisioned? What if the “you” in the mirror is the one that people want to see, because low self-esteem causes you to mask who God created you to be. Perhaps we need to say, “Become You!” or “Be the You that God Envisioned”. The key is healthy individuality and godly nonconformity. (John 17:14) Being like Christ means living and speaking in ways that bring contrast. Is my self-definition and counter-groupthink attitude constructive or destructive to my soul, spirit and body? In other words, will my self-expression, thinking, or choices please Christ or his enemy?
What is the big deal about our environment defining us and conforming to its values, words, and behavior?
God imagined each of us in His good heart. But something happened. Once our spirits put on an earth suit in our mother’s womb, we became marred by sin, generational weaknesses, and words spoken by people who had no idea what value we had to God. There is a reason we had to rescued from the kingdom of darkness in which we were born. So we spend our lives recovering–sloughing off the consequences of sin and renewing our minds to embrace the us–that was first imagined in His heart. His redemptive power delivers us from being a victim of this sin-stained battleground called Earth.
Listen to this song and receive who you are. If you have kids, play the song for them. Explain what I’ve written to them. I pray that as God infuses all of you with value and significance, that you are able to repel the “shoulds” of the fallen world. Complying with what everyone else does and how everyone else thinks is easier than standing alone. But you won’t stand alone. Jesus will be standing with you.
“I am who He says I am
He is who He says He is
I’m defined by all His promises
Shaped by every word He says,“
(Tony Brown, Seth Mosley, Kristene Dimarco)