I believe the quest for living an ignited life has a lot to do with not conforming to the world as we know it. It involves an attempt to avoid bowing down to old, familiar ways of doing things.
What do they say?: “If you keep doing things the way you’ve always done them, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.”
So…I wondered what God said about being a conformist.
I was guessing it wasn’t flattering.
I fidgeted with the possibility that I truly had done a fabulous job of conforming to all things around me in pretty consistent manner.
I was right..it’s wasn’t flattering.
So about transformation…
Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
And there’s a version from The Message, which just lays it out for my small mind to wrap around:
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Okay, so does watching “The Bachelor” count as immaturity? Good grief, it seemed that it was going to be a long road to weeding out the immaturity in the garden of my life. My dear friend, Kathy, who happens to be ten years older than me, would always tell me that she “had her immaturity to keep her young”. This always made me chuckle, but it also got me thinking. What, in this vida loca of mine, had to get the ‘ole heave-ho so I could focus on what was “good, pleasing and perfect”?
I decided the first step was identifying what I considered to be good, pleasing and perfect in my life already. There is a lot of doubt in calling anything in my world “perfect” (except God’s love, of course) because most of the time I’m usually teetering on the edge of being a mess. Yet, I can thankfully say there is a great deal of good and pleasing going on. Making a list wasn’t too challenging:
Bedtime conversations with my kids
Attention to exercise and nutrition (minus the occasional PMS freak-out with a certain cookie that shall remain nameless)
Prayer and quiet time in the early morning
Nightly family dinners (even if there are only three of us)
A stain removal system for abused clothing
Regular blogging and thought sharing
Quality book reading
Truth and love conversations with friends
Bras that fit (thanks to my new friend at Nordstrom)
Time with my extended family on both sides
Weekly family rituals that build memories
All family members told that they are loved on a consistent basis
Being armed with this list I sat down and made a list of the unpleasing, not good and imperfect. Prior to pondering the impact of spiritual nonconformity on my life, I had put myself on a year news/trash mag/reality TV hiatus. It was far from perfect…an US magazine perusing on an airplane was in there somewhere, as well as five minutes of Housewife drivel before turning it off in disgust. I’ll be honest here—it is hard for me as the grocery store to avert my eyes from the crap-ola at the check-out stands. My girls seem to notice the train wreck that is celebrity news too. I’m finding it more and more important to communicate to them that what goes on in the lives of these broken people has no bearing on their own lives…or on their own bodies. I am so disturbed by the focus on women’s weight in the media—yikes!
The other evils in conforming have come in the form of distraction…unnecessary forms of it that linger in my home via time wasters like Facebook or mindless shopping for things we don’t need…they keep us from the ultimate goal of amazingly connected family life.
I think what I have been trying to do within my own little clan is invite joy to burst inside its walls with intention. I think the process of developing a not conforming, but transforming family can involve some unlikely things. First of all, a vintage 1977 airstream trailer is beginning to play a role in this line of thinking…something totally unexpected, but really exciting, nonetheless. ‘Think road trips with no gadgetry to distract from conversation and adventure, a family project of restoring/painting/decorating something with love, even a place to retreat in my own yard when escape is needed.
Transformation has also entered in our doors through Panini/libray night where we create Sunday sandwiches and then sprawl on couches to read, again banning electronics from the mix. It seems that such devices are becoming the worst representation of a world in which communication is all but vanishing. I’m fighting it with everything I’ve got, and I refuse to believe that “this is just the way it is now for kids today”. We talk about it a great deal and my girls seem to understand the dangers in it, but they are products of their generation, and at this point need to have the limits laid out for them in clear terms, even if it means finding homes for phones and ipads in difficult-to-reach places.
In my new role as “soccer mom” (I have to admit I take on this title with trepidation), I have begun to pull back at points during our crazy activity-laden school year to just say no to certain unnecessary additions of busy-ness. Being busy for the sake of being busy isn’t a legacy we want to pass down in our house and I also guard our family time (especially now when our kids still want to be with us!) with my life.
Along with family time comes a renewed focus for me in the quest for transformation. I can get so caught up in my own stuff and am completely guilty of multitasking to the point of not really getting anything done. Yet, my goal has been to be fully present with my kids when we’re at home doing our thing. I want them to know that at that moment nothing is more important than what they are trying to say or do. Heaven knows I love it when someone is truly present with me…it means everything.
Conforming to a world that in some ways has lost its vision of faith is another whole can of worms. I’ve written about this before here and I wrestle with it every day. The process of owning this conviction and laying it down for all to see is such a work in progress for me. At times I fail miserably and I ask to be transformed through God’s grace. This would be the greatest legacy I leave my children..that and airstream adventures for their own family.