“But whoso keeps His Word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him.
He that saith He abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.” (I John 2:5-6)
When I was in grade 9, we went to a Pentecostal church. Having gone to different churches most of my life, I knew the drill….dress/skirt on, hair up, make up totally washed off (admittedly, this was more to keep my dad from freaking out ;)). I was quiet but knew a few kids from school that went to the church. Those kids weren’t like me…..at ALL.
Those kids were hardcore, meaning they never cut their hair. And, the girls wore dresses/skirts all the time. Most shocking for me was that they didn’t watch television — EVER. Moreover, I really hated pantyhose 😉 I found myself not fitting in with those kids even though the girls were always sweet. However, the boys treated me differently. Not my brothers. Just me.
So one day as I was about to get on the bus, I ran into one of the boys. I remember what I was wearing as if it happened last week. Denim skirt. Acid washed and above the knee, cutesy shirt, hair down and big, full face of make up and whatever jewelry I had. I have never forgotten the look he gave me either — sheer disgust. As he walked away, I felt like I had done something bad, when in reality the only person who could have been irritated with me was my dad (full make up…..a different blog post ;)).
On Sunday, as I walked into Sunday school he looked at me and said ‘read Deuteronomy 22:5’ and that was it. Now I knew I wasn’t like the other kids, and that was okay. I was brought up to believe that Jesus died for me, and what He gave up on the cross had nothing to do with what I wore or whether I watched TV. In fact, if there is anything that can be said about the experience is that it solidified who I was in the Lord Jesus.
For the record, Deuteronomy 22:5 states that a “woman shall not wear that which pertains unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so [are] abomination unto the LORD thy God.”
And this is where the confusion began. Someone was offended because my cute girl’s outfit was not designed for boys? Yes, there is a point here. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to understand that society in general gets offended easily, and far too often they insist on telling the world how offended they are. And the things that are offensive are things that should NOT matter. Our clothes, our weight, our hairstyle. We see this all the time. Indeed, there are websites and Facebook pages dedicated to shaming honest hard working people for their appearance.
My question is this. Why are we not offended by the important stuff??? What has gone so wrong in our world that someone’s appearance has become far more important than what is in their heart??? One’s ability to care for others, and their willingness to reach out to others less fortunate. When will we stop looking at the outside and instead focus on the inside??? It saddens me, that my story from 25 YEARS ago is one that teenage girls still live with, every day … except that it’s worse today. Now it’s not only words in a Sunday school class. Instead it’s words posted on social media, in text messages, on memes with photos. It’s words that are negative, hate inspired, and so sad.
So, instead of focusing on the negative, we need to be reinforcing our kids with the positive — because too soon they will be all grown up in a world that is intent on not being kind. Too soon, those innocent hearts that love us will all be grown up, heavily influenced by their peers. And, as young adults, their world is no longer the world that we hang onto in our day to day. These children will be stepping out into society, and they too will need to be confident enough in themselves to understand the difference between right and wrong. What matters and what does not.
So, as parents, let’s tell them Jesus loves them beyond measure. Let them know that they can change the world because they are different on the inside. This is why I believe that every single day we need to build our kids up because the world is waiting on the sidelines to tear them down. As a society, we need to collectively pray for our kids to find happiness. We live in a world where being kind to one another is not the norm….where loving a Saviour who died for us is not cool. We live in a world that is so easily offended, that we have forgotten to look at who a person is before we decide and judge them.
But the good news? Jesus looks at our hearts. He gives us the faith to overcome. He really doesn’t care what we look like. We, and yes, society as a whole, needs to become more like Jesus. And then, wouldn’t it be an amazing world to live in, if we all learned to look past outward appearances and instead see a persons heart??
Of course, it would. The bottom line is that we all need to be more like Jesus for He gives joy and peace that surpasses all human understanding, and the confidence too to be different on the inside.