Monday, January 21, 2013

Standing Out

Our family stands out from much of the world in many ways. It's fine with us, really. It is our "normal". I think we should stand out in good ways.  If you stand out in a bad way, or cast negative light on yourself for your dress, activities, behavior, then maybe it is time for a change.

Some of the ways we stand out are that we live on one income and I stay at home. We also have 5 kids--not exactly the normal amount. We also homeschool. Not so weird these days. We are Christians who are basically conservative (meaning we believe the whole bible--not the teaching of men- and we strive to obey it). We involve ourselves with many activities within our church.
We also involve ourselves in activities outside our church, selectively. We have to go outside our little world to have an influence for good. Christians aren't called to be their own little commune, living apart from the world. We are called to live in it, doing what is good and right,  and need to make ourselves known in good ways to the world at large, so that people want to see what we are all about.

Some of the ways I tend to stand out among my friends are different by food choices. That seems to be a big issue these days. For example: we don't eat special diets, like gluten-free, we don't use all natural or all organic ingredients, we don't drink raw milk, we do not raise and butcher our own animals, we are not farm folk, we vaccinate our kids, we socialize with many different groups, we don't avoid GMO's and HFCS. So in those ways we stand out and that's ok. I just don't discuss those things much. They really aren't in any way something to argue over. To each his own.

Standing out in a good way is positive. Standing out that makes you seem bizarre and unapproachable or isolationist is not good (imho) because who really wants to come see what you are all about if you are standing out in that way? Very, very few people. But if you stand out in good ways, people will likely see that goodness and be drawn to you. Naturally, some won't be, but most will see the kindness and goodness and the attitude and want to be a part of it. You like those kinds of people, right?  If you come across as bizarre, unapproachable, and closed or judgmental, you can't make an impact for good. You just can't. People want to feel acceptance and love, not like everything they are doing is wrong and bad and being judged.

I know. I used to be very preachy and direct and tactless. Just ask people who have known me. I was very judgmental if you weren't like me. It's shameful really. And I turned many, many people off, even those in my own congregation, before I began to see how abrasive and unloving those attitudes were. I lost the trust and friendship of quite a few. At the time I thought I was being a good Christian and had the right answers. Had lots of growing to do.

NowadaysI try to show the love of Christ in a nonthreatening, friendly way. I know some think I am worldly in that sense, but they can judge me as they see fit. I am doing the best I can to be light and salt. I try to show style that is good and modest, not frumpy and tasteless. I try to be a listener (working hard on that) and give folks the benefit of the doubt, rather than seem holier than thou. I try to overlook unkind words because we all have bad days. I try hard to see the best intentions and set good examples without being preachy, but through friendliness, because otherwise I see only evil, and come across as unfriendly and unsociable.

It is not easy, but that is, to me, what being a Christian is all about. Leading others by example and friendliness first. If you can't make them feel your friendliness, you will NEVER win them for Christ.

So, we all get to make our own choices and the vast majority will not have a book/chapter/verse command for our daily lives. We don't need to be legalistic and create our own rules when we have been given guidleines. There is a lot of wiggle room for our daily choices. We just need to use that liberty for good. Not to tear others apart. It is a good lesson to teach to kids.  How you present yourself to the world is very important, whether you think so or not.

Disclaimer: This is not a post directed at any one person or group of people. I just started writing and went with the flow.

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