Go back with me to 6th grade. I know, most of you probably don't want to. It was awkward enough to live through middle school once, right? However, we're going back to my embarrassing years not yours, so no worries. I went to a big church growing up. And by big, I mean mega. Our youth group was enormous. It had your basic school dynamics, and for this little homeschooler it enveloped most of my social life. (I'm not sure my 2 weekly co-op meetings and art classes count!) Anyway, I had the same desire as any other middle school kid - to be cool. Let's just say I wasn't in the "cool" crowd...or even close to it. I struggled. I remember one Sunday morning struggle in particular...
We were all rushing around the house getting ready for church. The rest of the family was donning their Sunday best while I stoically gazing into my closet. I grew more and more depressed as I tried to choose one of the frilly, lace-colared little girl dresses. You know the ones...they always had a matching version for your little sister and sometimes even your mom. Horrendous. They were so not in style anymore. On top of being out of style, they were hand-me-downs from other girls. Double-whammy. When my mom came to check to see if I was ready, the flood gates burst open. I finally had enough with the outdated clothes. "Mom," I cried "No one wears these dresses and shoes anymore! I'm the only one besides the foreign immigrant girls!" In my 6th grade little mind, I was the epitome of un-coolness. I just wanted to be like everyone else with their big, clunky leather sandals and jumper dresses.
"Honey, it's good for you to be different. You don't have to be like everyone else. So what if you stand out?" My mom said.
In utter defeat I went to church in my hand-me-down poofy dress. This time my parents came with me to see if my earlier statement was true. Fortunately for me, the immigrant girls were absent and I was alone in my frilly lace and poofiness. A few weeks later we found a few updated options for my wardrobe. They were loving parents and didn't want their little girl to stick out like sore thumb, but they were never for buying the latest fashions just because they were the latest fashions. Practicality was just more important. It had to be for our 6 kid family!
I never had another un-coolness crisis like that again, but what my mom said that day stuck with me. I never wanted to admit it, but she was right. Being different isn't a bad thing. It's far healthier than trying to be a cookie-cutter of the "coolest" person you know. Later on in highschool I took it to heart and probably went a little far with my "different" outfit choices. (I preferred to call it eccentric.) But this lesson goes much deeper than mere appearances. As Christians we are very different from the world. We can't let the fear of being different from others paralyze us. If Jesus is truly working in our lives, we will stand out.
"Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix you attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out." - Romans 12:2
Mom, thanks for the life lesson that day. I'll never forget it.