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Posts tagged ‘self-image’

Self-Image: Three Questions

SOURCE:  Taken from the book by Ed Welch

So much of life comes down to the following three questions:

  • Who is God?
  • Who am I?
  • Who are these other people?

You might not wake up in the morning with these questions on your mind. In fact, you might never have asked these questions. But, as a human being, those questions are part of your DNA. You will find them sneaking around in your anger, happiness, contentment, jealousy, sadness, fear, guilt, cutting, sense of purpose, life meaning, decision making, moral choices about sex, friendships, school, work, and so on.

Notice, for example, how jealousy answers these questions.

Who is God?

“He is someone who should give me what I want.”

Who am I?

“I deserve better—better looks, better athletic ability, a better boyfriend or girlfriend.”

“I am a judge who is authorized to stand over others.”

Who are these other people?

“They are below me. They have things that I deserve more than them.”

 

Sadness or depression? Listen and you will hear their answers too.

Who is God?

  • “He is far away and doesn’t care.”
  • “He is someone who didn’t give me what I wanted.”
  • “He could never forgive me for what I have done.”

Who am I?

  • “I am nothing, literally nothing. It isn’t that I am trash; I am just nothing.”
  • “I am needy, and I haven’t gotten what I need.”
  • “I am alone.”
  • “I am God. I deserved something and I didn’t get it.”

Who are these other people?

  • “They are my life. I put my hope in them, and they let me down.”
  • “They don’t care, so I am trying not to care about them, but it isn’t working.”
  • “They can’t be trusted.”

You can see what’s happening. You already have answers to these questions. You just have to uncover them. You might know some right answers, such as “I am a child of God.” But our hearts are complicated. The right answer is rarely your only answer. Instead, you usually have at least two sets of answers: those that are “right,” and those that actually guide the way you live. To discover your real answers to these questions, watch how you live. In particular, track your emotions. Look for what makes you upset, depressed, angry, and anxious, or what makes you happy, calm, excited, and peaceful.

Once you settle into one of your less comfortable moods, who do you say God really is?

  • Angry
  • Far away and not aware of what you are doing in secret
  • Far away and uncaring about what is bothering you
  • Picky
  • Unfair

What about other people? Who are they?

  • Objects you manipulate so that they serve you
  • Protectors
  • Threats
  • Jerks
  • Things that can make you feel really good or really bad
  • Idols that you worship

And you? Who are you? Try to capture your view of yourself with a picture. If the picture is “child of God” don’t stop there. Find some others.

  • I am alone, living behind thick walls. I can see out, and everyone else looks normal, but I am isolated.
  • I am a leper who has to live with other lepers far away from everyone else.
  • I am the black sheep—unwanted, standing out in a bad way and not fitting in.
  • I feel like a baby bird, vulnerable, needy, waiting to be pushed out of the nest.
  • I am a piece of a puzzle, happy to fit in but not stand out.

Any you would add?

When it comes to being controlled by the opinions of others—the fear of man—there is one image that fits most of us: a vessel, cup, bowl, or some kind of container. Listen for words such as need, want, and empty. They hint that we want to be filled with something that only other people can give us. Ever feel empty?

Any thoughts on what you think would fill you?

Picture a cup, something like the animated walking teacups of Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. There is already something in it; call it self-esteem for now. Some people have more, some less, but no one feels like they have much. You waddle around, hoping that no one bumps you so hard that everything spills out. You also hope that someone close by is in the shape of a pitcher so you can be filled.

What would cause a spill?

  • “Loser!”
  • “We decided not to hire you.”
  • “We regret to inform you that you weren’t accepted to . . .”
  • “Can’t you do anything right?!”

What would fill you up?

  • “Nice outfit.”
  • “Awesome game!”
  • “Good job.”
  • “I love you.”

“I love you” fills you up best. Sometimes it is enough to hear it from a parent. More often, parents can’t fill you with their words of affection, though they certainly can cause you to spill all over the place with words of rejection. The job of filling you is usually reserved for your peers. Get an “I love you,” or even an “I really like you,” from the right person, and life is wonderful. You feel great. Full. Who cares if someone bumps into you? “I love you” is high-octane fuel for your self-esteem.

If you don’t get filled, bad things happen. You wander around with a case of the blues, though you might not even realize it. Some people try to fill themselves with other things: achievements, sex, drugs, music, video games, Internet porn, and fantasy. But none of it really works. Even if you receive love it doesn’t work for too long. It is like a drug that fills you for awhile—about an hour or so—and then you need more. And there will be days when you feel so bad that even “I love you” won’t make any difference. Either your cup has a leak in it, or you weren’t intended to live like a cup. Which one do you think it is? (Both answers are correct, so you don’t have to worry about getting the wrong answer.)

Do you have any ideas why life as a love cup doesn’t work?

There is nothing wrong with wanting love. It would be positively inhuman not to want it. The problem comes when we desire it too much—when our desire for love becomes the center of life—which, when you think about it, makes us the center of our own lives. The problem is when we want to be loved more than we want to love. If only life could be a little bit less about us.

Then it gets worse. When we live as love cups, we will get hurt. There is no doubt about that. We can never get filled enough. When the hurts pile up, we feel ashamed and protect ourselves. We hide behind masks. You can’t let others see you or really know you. You try to spruce up your facade with grades, thinness, or some other accomplishment, but you never feel covered up enough. When other people are staring, it’s as if they can see through the mask. So you move on to something less revealing—if masks won’t work maybe walls will. But walls have problems of their own. Have you ever experienced the transition from love cup (or approval cup or success cup or . . .) to mask to walls? We all have, so what was it like for you?

What masks do you wear the most?

  • Intelligence
  • Athletics
  • Popularity
  • Creativity, being different

One problem with masks and walls is that, though their purpose is to protect you from hurt, they hurt you even more because they don’t allow relationships. You can’t have a deeper relationship if you won’t allow yourself to be known. All this leads to a dead end: if you allow people to know you, you get hurt; if you protect yourself from people, you get hurt. It ends in misery. But there is another way. This better way allows us to be open and honest and part of a community where we don’t have to put up self-defensive walls. Ever been there? Have you ever had the pleasure of being open with another person?

Think about it. What’s better than having relationships that let you be yourself? If you have ever experienced that, be sure to thank those people.[1]

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[1] Welch, E. T. (2011). What do you think of me? why do i care? answers to the big questions of life. Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press.

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Doctors Say Your Word Choice Can Hugely Change Your Brain

SOURCE:  /Lifehack

Be careful because the next word you say could determine how your day is, or the rest of your life might pan out. Doctors at Thomas Jefferson University explained that the choice of our words could actually have more impact on our lives than we actually think. Think the words of “I can’t”, “I won’t” or “it’s tough”, are harmless? Use them long enough and it will literally change your brain and here’s why.

Positive words strengthens frontal lobe

Dr. Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldmen, authors of life-changing book, “Words can change your brain”, wrote that “a single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.” By using more positive words in our daily lives, the areas of our frontal lobes are exercised, making it more effective.

By stimulating frontal lobe activity, you are developing an area that is in charge of telling you what is right from wrong and the ability to override and suppress socially unacceptable responses. As a result of frequent use of positive words, it will then give you the motivation to take charge of your life and your choices.

Negative words increase stress hormones

So what happens when we use too much negative words? The use of negative words activates the fear response in us which raises the levels of our stress hormones which the Amygdala is responsible for. Too much negativity and we become edgy as the stress hormones take over our body.

Although it might be true that a little stress is good for our bodies, but too much of it can cause many problems to our physical and mental health.

Changing the way we view ourselves and others

The doctors added further that the use of positive language can start to change the functions of the parietal lobe which is in charge of how we view ourselves and others. With a positive view of ourselves through the use of positive and encouraging words, it will make us lean towards seeing the good in others too.

However, a negative self-image brought about by negative use of language can fill us with suspicion and doubt causing us to be more wary of others which changes the way we behave socially.

The experiment

Studies were conducted to see whether it is true that using uplifting words can help to rewire our brain and thought processes. A group of adults ranging from age 35 to 54 were tasked to write down three things every day for the next 3 months that make them the happiest and why they chose those three.

Three months into the study and it showed that these adults felt more happy and less depressed. The study was also able to tell us that we are all capable of rewiring our brains to become more positive by focusing on the events that make us happy instead of events that don’t.

Practical methods of using positive language

When we’re angry, there are many times when we use words which we regret using once we cool down. Experts say that this is because when angry words are used, they partially shut down the areas of logic and reasoning located in our frontal lobe. The amygdala which is our center for ‘fight or flight’ responses will then take over. This explains why most of us are not able to think before reacting when we are angry. Some experts term it, ‘amygdala hijacking’.

With the habit of using positive language, we can train our frontal lobes to be more effective even when we’re angry so that we become more logical when dealing with heated situations.

If you are currently unaware of whether you are using more positive words than negative words, start to pay attention to your word choice and write them down if you can. Also, to put yourself in a more positive frame of mind, try writing down 3 things that makes you happy every day and start to see that positive change in your life.

4 Lies About Introverts

SOURCE:  Amie Patrick/The Gospel Coalition

I’m an introvert.

Most people who don’t know me well wouldn’t guess this about me, but it’s true.

On a practical level, being an introvert means I’m generally more energized by time alone than by time with people, and I have a preference for a less externally stimulating environment. I feel very alive in a quiet, empty room. On the introversion/extroversion spectrum I fall closer to the middle, but still lean decidedly toward the introverted side.

The process of understanding introversion and the way it’s expressed in my life has been both a tremendous relief and also an ongoing source of doubt and concern. My daily reality is people-intensive and externally stimulating. I’m married to an extrovert, we have four children, and we live in an urban setting. Our home and surroundings are fun and energetic—not exactly low-stimulus. My husband pastors a large church, and we’re involved with many congregations and ministries throughout the world; consequently, our social circles are large and complex. To complicate things even further, my spiritual gifts are often expressed publicly as are the (non-innate!) social skills I’ve managed to learn and practice over time. These realities, combined with my definite need for quiet and solitude, have often left me and others confused about who I really am.

The lie I’m most tempted to believe is that the way God has wired me is incompatible with the life he’s called me to live. The logical conclusion of this lie is that joy and contentment aren’t possible—and that constant frustration is inevitable.

It took a while for me to unearth and articulate that lie under the layers of fear, doubt, and insecurity it was producing. I knew these beliefs didn’t line up with God’s character or promises, but it’s taken extended immersion in the truth of God’s Word to renew my mind and dismantle that deception. Along the way, I’ve discovered some subtle and not-so-subtle assumptions I’d unwittingly latched onto over time.

1. Extroversion is the biblical ideal

There’s little question our culture leans toward idealizing extroverts. Those with intrinsically good social skills, who appear to thrive in party-type atmospheres and exude confidence when meeting new people, are often considered worthy of emulation. I spent many years wondering why small talk felt so awkward for me when it seemed so effortless for my friends. In some churches, an appropriate focus on community life can inadvertently favor those who are most comfortable socially, quickest to share their thoughts and feelings, and most likely to throw a party. But there’s no biblical precedent for idealizing extroversion, just as there’s none for idealizing introversion either. I know extroverts who feel condemned because a quiet environment and time alone are somewhat distracting. They find it difficult to avoid comparing themselves to more introverted, contemplative types and avoid attributing their struggle to a lack of self-discipline when, in fact, a preferred environment has little to do with self-discipline at all.

The comparisons aren’t helpful and neither is holding up an ideal the Bible does not. The body of Christ includes persons at all points on the introversion/extroversion continuum, and no one’s contribution is more important than another’s. We’re all responsible to spend time both privately and corporately with God and others in worship, study, prayer, and service. Caving to a cultural standard that doesn’t line up with scriptural truth is destructive to individuals and to the body of Christ.

2. Introverts don’t like people

This has perhaps been the lie that’s stung most for me. I care deeply about people, but I need time alone to recharge in order to be able to give them my best. It’s taken me years to view this as good stewardship rather than some sort of flaw I need to overcome. Actually, and perhaps ironically, the chief thing that’s kept me from loving people well has been my attempt to be someone I’m not. The more I’ve tried to be that “life of the party” girl, endlessly accommodating others without considering what I need to recover, the less capacity I’ve had to actually love people well.

We’re all responsible to obey biblical commands related to loving people sacrificially and living hospitably and generously. And it’s a cop-out to use introversion as an excuse for self-protective isolation. But there’s not just one or even ten “right” ways to love people well. I’ve learned to get better at small talk and interacting with strangers, because it’s important and necessary, but it’s never going to be my greatest strength. I’ve become much more comfortable in opening our home to small and large groups of people, both in planned and spontaneous ways, but going deep with one or two people over coffee is always going to be a place where I thrive. Accepting my God-given introversion, I still allow myself to be stretched or uncomfortable. But I passionately pursue opportunities where I can love people deeply with my gifts and life, and then humbly take responsibility for what it looks like for me to be refreshed.

3. Solitude is selfish and indulgent

Now there’s a reality here that can be true. If my choice to be alone is primarily to serve myself and intensify a me-oriented focus, it is a problem. But for a long time I believed solitude for the purpose of prayer, Bible study, or worship is necessary, but anything beyond that is probably frivolous. However, I’ve come to experience great benefits from a variety of solitary activities. Solitude in itself isn’t inherently helpful or harmful, but the underlying purpose is pivotal. I can go for a run by myself to clear my head and enjoy God’s gift of nature—or to sinfully distract myself from something I need to confront. I can sit alone in a coffee shop in order to think deeply and process life events—or to worry about things beyond my control. When I cooperate with the way God has designed me, and surrender my solitude to him, he uses it to refresh my soul in often unexpected and powerful ways.

4. Introversion is incompatible with teaching and leadership gifts

Last year, after an acquaintance watched my husband and me team-teach in front of a few thousand people, he remarked in a good-natured way that I couldn’t possibly be an introvert. I knew he meant this as a compliment, and I also understood his confusion. People who are confident and capable in front of large audiences don’t exactly fit the introverted stereotype. And while it’s true many introverts aren’t comfortable in front of people, I am. How much of that is due to my natural personality, gifting, or years of training in music, theater, and teaching, I don’t know, and it probably doesn’t matter. What I do know is that once the adrenaline wears off after such an event, I need some silence and solitude in order to be replenished. I’m passionate about teaching God’s Word, and I love to get to use my gifts in this area, but it’s equally important for me to take necessary steps to make room for quiet rest. By God’s grace I’m learning to see my more public and more private sides not as incompatible or inauthentic, but as balances to each other. 

Additionally, my leadership gifts aren’t expressed in the same way as my extroverted husband. I tend to lead best from a more contemplative place. My creativity flourishes, and my best ideas rise to the surface when I have time to be alone more so than when I’m brainstorming with others in a highly dynamic environment. Since there is no one-size-fits-all model for leadership, our churches will be best served when there’s room at the table for extroverted and introverted leaders alike.

Accepting the realities of my God-given personality has been a process of sanctification. I’ve had to repent of people-pleasing and trying to be someone I’m not. I’ve had to humbly acknowledge my limits and weaknesses and to live in God’s strength rather than my own. Ultimately, this process has been about God and his kingdom, not me. The more I rest in his gracious acceptance of me in Jesus, the more free I become to be myself for his glory. And that’s a place where joy and contentment abound.

Bruce Jenner: “Call me Caitlyn” Dear Bruce: “I Can’t”

SOURCE:  Joe Dallas

I know what you’re asking, and with respect and sadness, I’ve got to say no.

Jenner as Woman

We know you feel that you’ve always been a woman in a man’s body – we saw the interviews and the magazine covers – and we’ve been anticipating photogenic proof of your new identity for months now. Well, as of today, the cat’s out of the bag. Your upcoming Vanity Fair cover shot’s gone viral, and there you are, posed and dressed as a female, saying “Call me Caitlyn.”

But honestly, Bruce, I can’t. If you really don’t care for your prior name, then I could call you other things. Like Accomplished, for sure, and Beloved of God. I’d also go with Valued, as one of the millions Christ died for; Intelligent, from all I’ve seen and heard; and Gifted (there’s a no-brainer!) both in athletics and articulation. I’ll gladly call you all of those, because they fit. But calling you Caitlyn isn’t an option, because I believe that to do so is to join you in a well-orchestrated delusion. I guess to your thinking, Caitlyn’s the real you. But to mine, she’s a
real myth.

Not that you care, and why should you? You’re an icon with a dazzling Olympic resume; I’m an unknown blogger who cheered you on decades ago and today has an opinion contrary to yours. But it’s an opinion shared by millions who hold the old-fashion notion that the sex we’re given at birth is a permanent assignment, not open to renegotiation or refashioning. So speaking as one of many who’ve admired you deeply, but are now bewildered and distressed over your high-profile transition, let me respond to your public request.

I Can’t Because We’re Planned —
The child you were born as became a man who’s trying to become a woman, but who began, in fact, as a boy. And that was no accident.

One of the first things said about any newborn human is a sexual identification – “It’s a boy!”, or, “It’s a girl!” That’s instinctive; nobody teaches us to say that, yet we do because the sex we’re born with is something we both acknowledge
and celebrate.

But more than that, it’s a primary characteristic; a divine and critical distinctive, endowed on each of us by a Creator who knows beforehand who and what we’ll be. (Jeremiah 1:5) And that “what” is foreordained for life.

It’s part of the distinction God Himself created from the beginning, a male/female distinction He placed such high value on when He said, in essence, that the human experience would be incomplete without it. (Genesis 2:18) So the body we’re given at birth, including its male or female status, matters hugely. It’s foreknown, assigned, immutable. Attempting to change it is not only impossible; it’s an affront to the Designer’s competence and selection.

You’ve publicly said, “Bruce lived a lie every day,” and for you to say such a thing, you must really have felt your manhood was, in fact, a falsehood. But isn’t it possible, and really more feasible, to instead see it as an endowment which, for reasons we may not understand, you never felt comfortable with? To my thinking, the lie was the discomfort, not the endowment. Rejecting that very thing which identified you from the womb is what seems to be the ultimate in dishonesty.

— and I Can’t Because What’s Planned Overrides our Passions
I’ll be the first to admit I don’t relate to the transgender experience. I’ve never wished to be anything but male, so I won’t pretend I know what your struggle’s been like in that regard.

And yet, I kinda get it. Because I know what it’s like having people tell you that you are what you are, and that you cannot change what you are, even if you feel you must. That much I understand, because, somewhat like you, I’ve been told I couldn’t change the unchangeable.

31 years ago I repented of homosexual behavior and disowned the identification of “gay.” Three years later I married. Old friends told me I couldn’t change what I was, that my marriage would be a sham, that it would never last, that I was deluded. That was 28 years ago, and both my marriage and the family it produced, though very imperfect, is just about everything to me. It’s certainly more than I ever thought I’d have.

So I get it. I appreciate the need to stand your ground, even when everyone seems to be saying it’s quicksand. But how, really, do we determine the difference?
I think it gets down to how we got here, and Who arranged it. If we as people just happened – no Creator; no plan – then what we feel is the final determinant.

But if we’re created beings, then what matters is not so much what we feel we are, but what our Creator says we are. And conformity to His plan, evidenced both by the sex He assigned us and the standards He’s commissioned us in Scripture, takes priority over what we feel, no matter how passionate and deeply ingrained the feelings may be.

Look at it another way. If I said that all my life I’ve felt like Napoleon Bonaparte, despite all physical and factual evidence to the contrary, and that I was therefore going to modify my body to look like his, you’d logically tell me that my problem was my feelings, not my body. If I protested by saying that I felt Joe Dallas was a lie and Napoleon was the truth, you’d perhaps appreciate how passionately I felt, but you’d still conclude (again, logically) that the problem was my feeling, or my self-concept, or my identity. But not my body. You’d encourage me to see my false belief as a thing to resist rather than indulge. And surely, were I to say, “Call me Napoleon”, you’d pass.

Which is why I, and countless others, will also pass on your request to be called Caitlyn. Because no matter how artfully you reconfigure your male body, it will remain, at best, a re-configured male body. Never female; always the sex you were assigned. And that both bothers and even frightens us, because there are those who made the same decision, came to regret it, and found themselves horribly disillusioned because the drastic move they undertook to solve their conflict didn’t solve it at all.

But who knows where all this is going? There are others who’ve made the decision you made, regretted it, but then reversed it as best they could, finding peace with God and themselves in the process. My fervent prayer is that you become one of them, reclaiming the man you were meant to be while renouncing the falsehood of a woman who – again, with all due respect – I firmly believe you can never become.

“As soon as the Vanity Fair cover comes out I’m free,” you recently said.

Well, God love ya, Bruce, I see it another way. I think your belief in Caitlyn is the vanity. And I hope and trust that as soon as that vanity comes out, and in its place Christ comes in and reigns, then and only then will the myth be put to rest. And that’s when the man so many of us miss will find himself to be truly free.

God’s will be done. We sincerely wish you the best.

 

My Value Doesn’t Equal What I Do

SOURCE:  Brad Rymer/Living Free

“For my part, I am going to boast about nothing but the Cross of our Master, Jesus Christ. Because of that Cross, I have been crucified in relation to the world, set free from the stifling atmosphere of pleasing others and fitting into the little patterns that they dictate. Can’t you see the central issue in all this? It is not what you and I do—submit to circumcision, reject circumcision. It is what God is doing, and he is creating something totally new, a free life! All who walk by this standard are the true Israel of God—his chosen people. Peace and mercy on them!  Galatians 6:14-16 MSG

Wanting to perform at a level of excellence is admirable. The problem is we are not created to be excellent at everything. The world seems to expect us to be, however, and we sometimes take on unrealistic views of what to expect from ourselves.

Our human tendency is to base our value on how well we perform. We strive to accomplish many things to feel a sense of value and worth. When we do well, we feel good about ourselves. When we don’t meet expectations we or others have placed on us, we see ourselves as failures.

The possibility of trying to earn God’s and others’ love through how we perform and what we accomplish can overshadow the truth that God loves us for who we are. You may have heard it said that we are human beings, not human “doings.”

God loves you for who you are–his creation. He loves you unconditionally. He won’t love you any more–or any less–because of your performance. Take comfort and rest in knowing that who you are is more important than what you can do. In God’s eyes, you are valuable because he created you and loves you. You belong to him not because of what you have done but because of what Jesus did for you. When you accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, you became a new creation.

It is not what you do. “It is what God is doing, and he is creating something totally new, a free life!”

Father, help me remember that my performance, my ability to succeed according to the world’s standards, does not determine my value. But I am valuable because you love me unconditionally, because Jesus died on the cross for me, and because of the person you are molding me to be. In Jesus’ name . . .

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These thoughts were drawn from …


Where is the Image of God in You?
by Brad Rymer.

What (or Who) Really Defines Me?

SOURCE:  Living Free/Tammy Webb Witholt

I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength! Ephesians 1:17-19 MSG

What are some of the words you would use to define yourself? Gay, straight, alcoholic, workaholic? Or teacher, attorney, mother, grandfather … or even intelligent, witty, cute, stupid, ugly, clueless …

While these words may describe some of your characteristics or roles, the real you is defined by your relationship to Christ. When we receive Jesus as Lord, God redefines us as followers of Christ, according to his purposes.

Homosexuality is a lifestyle you used to live (and might still be struggling with)—it’s not who you are. Workaholism is a life-controlling problem, but not who you are.

Even the positive roles you play and your good characteristics may be a part of God’s plan for your life—but they are not your main identity.

If you have made Jesus Lord of your life, you are a follower of Christ. He now lives within you. You are a child of the King. He has clothed you in his righteousness. He has a plan and a purpose for your life—and he will help you accomplish all that he has prepared you for and called you to do.

Father, I thank you that my main identity in life is now “follower of Christ.” Help me to truly grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life. In Jesus’ name …


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These thoughts were drawn from …

Lessons Learned: Moving from Homosexuality to Holiness by Tammy Webb-Witholt.

Peer Pressure: We Never Outgrow It’s Reach

SOURCE:  Dennis Rainey/Family Life

Peer Pressure Grows Up

The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.
Proverbs 29:25  NASB

I used to think peer pressure only showed up in parenting books and situations facing teenagers.

I thought it was something you outgrew.

But I remember sitting in a business meeting with a roomful of Christian leaders and being asked to vote on a particular issue. The man seated next to me–a very good friend of mine–held a strong opinion that was different from mine. And during the debate that ensued, I chose to keep silent about my convictions.

Finally, we were asked to stand up to indicate a yes vote on the measure. My friend stood quickly to his feet. He wasn’t the only one. Many others were rising in support.

I can still feel the rumblings that clashed inside me. Even though I’m against this, I thought, how can I stay seated when one of my best friends is standing–when this whole place appears to be standing?

So I did what every preadolescent and teenager is tempted to do: I caved in, and I stood up.

And from that vantage point, I could clearly see two who remained seated, opposing the motion. Just two. I still remember them because of their courage and convictions.

Peer pressure.

It happens, not just in school locker rooms and hallways, but around the lunch table with work associates, in the homes of people who are more affluent, during adult conversations when you don’t want to admit who you really are or what you truly believe.

The fear of being different or disagreeable doesn’t leave you when you reach adulthood. It changes clothes but keeps the same skeleton.

What I needed that day was integrity. I needed the character to vote for what I knew was right.

Be honest: Where are you still susceptible to peer pressure? Do you need to go against the herd today on some issues that you’re facing?

Pray the same prayer you may have prayed as a teenager–that God will give you convictions so that you can stand firm.

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