“Don’t tell my friends that I watched My Little Pony with you or I will be a laughingstock.” – from my 9 year old son.
“Don’t tell anyone that I played with the baby’s toys or I will be a laughingstock.”- from my 6 year old daughter (obviously borrowing the term from her brother!)
My kids are apparently now at the ages where the opinions of their peers are starting to impact their own responses. I had been secretly hoping for a few more years of bliss, holding off junior high and high school “issues” until, well, junior high and high school.
It saddens me to see this now. Do my kids really need to be thinking about altering their behaviors in order to fend off ridicule? In Kindergarten? REALLY?!
I struggle with this. On the one hand, I so desperately want them to be confident in their own selves, in their own ideas, in their own beliefs and values. I want them to learn to stand up for themselves, to realize that they have just as much a right to their opinions as the perceived perceptions of their friends. On the other hand, I fear that they won’t be able to really know what they believe until they are tested and forced to process it in their actual lives. This processing is necessary for their growth, even if it’s just SO HARD for me to watch and parent them through.
But, if I had a third hand, I would use it to say that it saddens me even more to see how much like ME and my own thinking, this “laughingstock” fear really is. I suspect I am well past the age where I should care so much about the perceived perceptions of people around me. Yet I fear that many times I am so concerned about not offending anyone, that I choose to hide my true self, bury my actual feelings, and present a cleaned-up, inoffensive me to the world.
“Better not tell my neighbors that I love Jesus…that might sound weird. I will just talk about going to church instead.”
“Better not show my flaws to those church ladies…I shouldn’t still be struggling with that sin.”
“Better not take a public stand on issues of morality…I don’t want to upset anyone.”
But there’s Romans 12:1-2 to consider…. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
I find I have such a hard time with these Scriptures because I simply don’t like the idea of being a LIVING SACRIFICE. That sounds uncomfortable and more than a little painful. I seem to have the idea that since I live in this great country of Canada where I lack for nothing, I really shouldn’t have to subject myself to suffering for any reason. Pain, um, NO THANKS.
And yet when I read Matthew 5:10-12, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”…. it makes me realize that I’ve got it all wrong. Perhaps in trying to live an inoffensive, free of friction, devoid of conflict life, I am missing the point entirely. Where in Scripture do I see the call of Jesus to be synonymous with living an inoffensive, free of friction, devoid of conflict life? (Oh, how I wish I could find this!)
Perhaps in the same way that I cannot shield my own children from ridicule (short of sequestering them in their rooms forever!), I should stop trying to shield myself. And perhaps in the same way that I am trying to teach them to use ridicule as a basis for firming up, not belittling their own opinions, I need to not be afraid of having my own beliefs questioned. I need to remember that opposition to my views does not negate my opinions and in fact, can help me to better define my own beliefs. From a place of grace and humility, I need to learn to stand up for truth as I perceive it to be, regardless of the estimations of others. I want to embrace the various pain of being a daily, living sacrifice in order for Jesus to be seen through my life. I want to know Christ and to not only identify with His victories, but also to identify with His sufferings (Philippians 3:10), which probably means I might actually have to face into some sufferings, some ridicule, some pain myself.
What about you? Are you ready to pray with me today?….
Jesus, help me to be willing to be a laughingstock, a living sacrifice, for you. Help me to stop trying to avoid ridicule from those you would like me to be affecting for you. And help me to stop insulating myself from the pain that you just might have a purpose for in my life.