You may remember a recent story in the news of a 16 year-old girl who attempted to sail around the world. The idea was hailed as a great one until she ran into trouble at sea. Then suddenly the media became the experts at parenting and condemned her family for even allowing her to try it.
In a society where kids are told from preschool age that they can achieve whatever they want, to dream big, and to be all they can be, it's amazing how fast minds change when someone actually takes the advice!
This girl dared to dream big, achieve what she wanted, and be all she could be by breaking out of the mold. I suppose the rest of the world would have been happier if she had stayed on her couch in front of MTV setting the world record for the most text messages sent in a day.
I am not sure I would let my child sail around the world at 16, but then, my children have never even been on a sailboat, and so far, none of them has mentioned the idea. Whew! But I do applaud a family that sees great things in their child. They knew they could trust her, or I seriously doubty they would have let her attempt this feat at all.
So what does this have to do with conformity? Lots. This girl chose not to conform, and she and her family were ridiculed for it. That's to be expected. It's much easier to go with the flow, to do what everyone expects of you, to imitate those around you.
It's much harder not to conform. I know. Since I was a kid, my family was non-conformist, and it was usually unpopular and uncomfortable for a teenager. As I became an adult, and continued to buck the system, I understood what my parents went through in making decisions based on something besides what everyone else does.
What does God have to say about conformity? "Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Romans 12:2)
Once you choose not to be conformed to the world, what happens next? You must be transformed by the renewing of your mind. For me, that means that you start thinking more thoroughly about the decisions you make. Don't just accept what everyone else is doing as the right thing. Ask God, "What is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God for me?" He will answer. You will know what He wants by the peace that comes along with the decisions you make.
Now comes the hard part. Much of what God asks of us is not popular, and sometimes it is harder. You must know what you believe and why. You must be ready to explain (in love) why you're doing what you do if someone should ask. I don't mean that you should hold a meeting and admonish all your friends to become like you. I just mean that you should be willing to walk in God's will for you. There will be multiple opportunities to explain your lifestyle. Trust me. : ) You won't have to go looking for them!
What are some ways our family doesn't conform? There are many at our house, such as homeschooling, home birth, no vaccinations, to name a few big ones. We've been attacked, questioned, and looked at strangely for these many times. There are other smaller ones (much to my teenage daughter's chagrin), like the time and content of TV watching allowed, the use of Facebook, the music we listen to, the books we read, the way we spend our free time, the friends we keep company with, the clothes we wear, and on and on. These decisions (as I remind my children) are not from a desire to make lots of rules, but out of the convictions that we have for our family.
I am usually surrounded by a circle of friends and family who are very similar in lifestyle, but I still find times to go against what the majority of friends in that circle are doing, because it's right for us. That's probably the hardest part.
But when I have the peace of God about these decisions, it makes it easier to stay on the path.
Stay tuned for my explanation of two of the biggies: Why we homeschool and why we like home birth. I get questions about these ALL. THE. TIME!