This is going to be a rambling post here… so you can bear with me and read through it, or just ignore my silliness.
To begin with, none of this is meant to brag or gloat, and at times I am going to sound like I am saying something that is wrong, but there is always a track for these trains of thought. Just ride it all out or skip the trip.
I have something called an image. You have one, too, whatever it may be. Let me explain to you what my image is. To those outside of my family it is the “good girl” image. To my parents it switches between the “will she ever get what we are saying” image and the “perfect child” image. But most of the time I hear the “good girl” and “perfect child”. Let me say here, this is absolutely nothing to brag about. First of all, it is more of a hindrance than a blessing. This is where the rambling begins.
Most people want that sort of image. “Why can’t I be like so and so? They do everything right.” Ha. You only think that good people do everything right. We don’t. I promise. Don’t try to be a “good girl” or a “perfect child” (or a “good guy” for that matter). This is why it is a hindrance. When you have an image of a certain way of being, people notice when you sway from what they deem to be that image. If I wear a piece of clothing they deem to be immodest (everyone has their own personal convictions) or gaudy, then I am judged by their perceptions of what a “good girl” is and does. If I decide I want a tattoo, but that is against their convictions then *gasp* I’m…. I’m a rebellious little thing. (Just as a note, I currently do not want nor plan to have a tattoo, nor will I condemn them as sinful. That is for you all to decide for yourselves.) It is hard. It is very hard. We want to be good, but we fall, we stumble, we sin. We may believe something to be right, but someone else doesn’t, and said other person decides to ruin our image. I know for myself, I have refrained from doing things thinking “if I do this they will think I’m not a perfect young lady anymore”. I’m not joking. It wasn’t because my heart was in the right place, it was because I was afraid of the perceptions of others.
Here is one reason that Christianity comes so hard to me. (Please hear me through). Because of this image that I have ‘to protect’ (hint of sarcasm there) I always had for myself a list of to do’s and to don’ts based on what other people said to me. Here are a few-
1) Read your bible every day. Why- If you don’t you won’t know God, you aren’t a true Christian, and you are a hypocrite.
2) Stand out. Be different. Don’t do what the rest of the world does. Why- If you do you aren’t a true follower of Christ. You aren’t truly being conformed and transformed to His image.
3) Go to church every Sunday. Why- Because in order to grow at all, you must have fellowship with other believers. You can’t consider yourself a good Christian and not go to church. You won’t grow without church.
4) Always obey. Parents, teachers, pastors, etc. Why- Because God commands you listen to those in authority over you. Any sort of questioning, talking back (even in a respectful tone), and disobedience is highly punishable. They know things you don’t, never question, simply do.
Now some of those may seem like good reasons to do those things. But let me now explain to you why the why’s in each of those really good, healthy things to do damaged how I looked at them.
1) I felt that if I didn’t I was a sinner and hypocrite, and didn’t feel close to God. I felt like it didn’t matter whether I read my bible because no matter what I did, I couldn’t be close to Him.
2) This caused me to do all I could to stand out (including never even considering college or a job), and it also caused me to judge others as well, in accordance with what I deemed to be a “good person”.
3) This caused me to become reluctant to attend church, and pushy when we didn’t go. It was a hard spot to be in. I didn’t want to go, but felt I needed to. I never desired to worship and praise, I did it because I had to.
4) This was the toughest one for me. This made it hard for me to express my true thoughts, for fear of being shot down and considered rebellious. I was under the impression that even if something wasn’t the best option available, if I was told to do it, I needed to do it. I wasn’t supposed to suggest better options.
Now I am not in any way excusing what I think and do. I am in charge of choosing how and what I think, with the help of my Savior. But these are the things that negatively affected just how I think/thought about Christianity. I felt that it was impossible. I couldn’t be perfect. I wasn’t Jesus! So I sort of abandoned what I felt was Christianity. I didn’t want it. I looked the part, talked the part, even partially walked the part, but deep down, in my heart, I was only doing it to protect who I was. Or… who I thought I was. I thought this way until last summer. Until I read a book that really taught me more than I can say. It brought me to tears at some points and laughing at others. I was so wrong!
People today are often times so bound to their image. The image created for and by them. They don’t understand that Christianity is not about our image. It’s about His. We have to be free to be conformed to His image, not ours. It starts with us being willing to forget what others think about us. We should be thinking primarily of what God would think of us. Do that and you are bound to have a good reputation with most. Everyone may not like you, but you can be sure you will be in the right. It doesn’t matter what others think, because 100 years from now you’ll be in front of God Almighty, not them. It’s a hard choice to make. We are naturally pleasers of ourselves and of others. When we allow Christ in us, our primary reputation to keep should be our reputation before God.
Now I am not “bashing” good girls or “perfect children”. I’m not saying I want to be rebellious and totally detach from my roots. I’m not saying I want to forsake Christianity. I love my faith. I really, truly, honestly do. No matter how much I try to convince myself (I don’t really try at all, but you know) that God is not real, the more I am convinced that He is. I see Him everywhere. And I love Him. He died for me. What I am saying here is that I don’t like being bound by these images. I want my image to be that of my Savior's. What I am saying here to you all, is to think before you judge. Before you point fingers at people, make sure that you are living the way Christ has called you to live. Don’t judge people on their clothes, their talk, their actions even. Actions, when observed out of context, can be misleading. Don’t assume. Know the heart of a person and their reasons and thinking before judging them and accusing them.
Anyways, that was just a lot of rambling thoughts on my part. I hope it made sense… and that I even made a point. :)