“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”-Rom. 12:2 NRSV
I tread cautiously, of course. Scripture must always be used in context and never to prove our own points and serve our own devices. I pray I will not do this here; forgive me if I tread the line.
Paul is speaking of refraining from cultural indulgences of sin. What I am about to address isn’t necessarily sinful. However, I do have to keep my motives in view, discerning if I’m simply trying to be counter cultural because I don’t want to be like everyone else or if I’m doing it because I see it as the best way to glorify God.
“The beginning of strife is like letting out water; so stop before the quarrel breaks out.”- Prov. 17:14
Am I just trying to be quarrelsome? Do I just want my own opinion heard? Do I simply think myself right that I want others to hear me while I drown their opinion with my “voice of reason”? These are questions that have to remain on the precipice of this endeavor. I cannot seek to stray from societal norms simply to draw attention.
Anyways, I have felt seemingly out of place recently. In a way, I am supposed to. I am a pilgrim in this life, just as believers before me.
“ All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.”- Heb. 11:13-16
Even though I am meant to be a pilgrim, I don’t know how much of this unsettled, dissatisfaction is merely discontentment that needs to be repented of or the fact that American culture elude’s me. I have noticed it increasing over the years and perhaps it is, to an extent, a by-product of my faith profession. Yet, I wonder how much of it is simply because I sought the dream and woke up disillusioned and doubtful of its fulfillment. How much of it is my parenting expectations that were ingrained in me by society that I shake off because I find it isn’t ideal for my family unit? Did this transition occur only when I chose to labor and deliver/parent differently than American cultural norms? Could the change have shifted earlier and I wasn’t noticing the splinters?
Here are ways I am being “counter-cultural” lately:
1.) Trying to live more simply/becoming minimalist
2.) Supporting military defense because I am married to a soldier and want to encourage him, but also finding pacifism appealing
3.) Thinking tiny homes are a viable living option
4.) Thinking Technology is beneficial at times but overall, has led to severe societal corruption
5.) Choosing Midwives as my main care providers in L&D
6.) Wanting homebirths
7.) Wanting my children present during my deliveries of subsequent children and “preparing” them as such (to which I’ve had people tell me that it is traumatizing for children and how could I subject them to this; yet kids raised on farms seem relatively well adjusted and have witnessed birth)
8.) Being a major proponent of breastfeeding as natural and not sexual
9.) Baby-wearing as a better mode of child transport than strollers
I’m sure the list could go on, but these are the major themes of differences I’m currently noticing.
Are there verses to support these choices? Sure. I’m also certain that verses could be used to support an opposing view. As in all things, motives matter. I need to assess my motives for selecting these choices, if I’m glorifying God in them, and if I’m truly respecting those who choose to make different decisions. If I am brutally honest with myself, there is a hint of silent judging when people don’t do things “my way”. After all, would we do them/believe it if we thought them/it false?
Forgive me God for being disgruntled or offended when someone questions these decisions. I do not need to take offense. If I think it right and carefully review the finalized decision, finding it “in-line” with Scripture/your will, help me to stop justifying my actions. When I do, I am giving into my approval addiction. I want to be your servant and if I continuously give into man’s approval, I am not being the light you have called me to be. (Gal. 1:10 is an applicable verse.)
Lent is a season of reflection, repentance, and renewal. We often forsake certain habits. While such sacrifices are often temporal, God has called us to completely surrender ourselves. Our bodies are temples for the Holy Spirit. Sometimes, we need to refrain from a behavior or indulgence for the rest of our pilgrimage. I know I probably say it every season, but I need to surrender this approval addiction permanently. I’m caring too much what others think about my work, parenting, and practically daily decisions.
I need to stop listening to others about how to live life and more completely surrender to Christian servitude. Man’s approval or philosophy won’t get me eternity. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It is in surrendering to him, his will, and seeking God’s favor that I will be free to eternity.
Will you pray for me?
What is God pressing on your heart this Lenten season?