When I was little I can admit to being a tiny bit vain. I didn’t quite think that I was God’s gift to Earth, but as Africans who’ve spent a significant time in Africa would say, “I was feeling myself.” (Just means I thought I was hot tomale and I assumed everybody thought the same.) I realise that I’m not making a good case for not being insanely narcissistic but in my defence, I was about 5. These were the days when I was at wits ends thinking about what I would name my daughters because I couldn’t imagine there being a name better than Daniela and I hadn’t heard of girl Juniors. I also felt a little bit sorry for all the other girls who had also been dragged to this African party, not because we shared the predicament of boredom that couldn’t be solved by mobile phones (not even sure my mum had a phone yet, scares you a bit if you think about how technology has transformed the world) but because they didn’t look like me.
I think we need to regroup before I tell anymore. Before you write me off as the epitome of vain, I think we should all remember that I was 5. Everyone around me (my parents) thought I was pretty cool and I was at least God’s gift to their world.
So you can put the pitchforks down, my whole outlook changed when I reached primary school and being Black was not ‘oh so beautiful’ and I couldn’t take my team (still my parents at this point ) onto the playground to tell everyone that it was. The whole feeling-beautiful,
-walking-with-a-pep-in-my-step, dissolved when I realised being blonde with long flowing hair was ‘in’, and my hair, that barely tickled my shoulders and had been divided into 6 big plaits was never going to be ‘cool’.
What was interesting from the age of 5 upwards, was that life was no longer about what I thought of them, but what they thought of me. Of course we go through life acquiring opinions about others, and if we’re brave, expressing them, but our own opinions just seem to matter way less than theirs.
You buy a new coat for example, and even if you think it’s lush, once your clique have expressed their distaste for it, you decide you can’t wear it around them, no matter how nice you think it is, so lush coat remains in the closet, wondering why it wasn’t purchased by someone that was actually going to let it see daylight.
Coats aren’t really that important but the constraints of their opinion doesn’t always end with wardrobe choice. At school people are
telling you advising on the way to wear your hair and the songs you should have as your ringtone (remember those?!) and the celebrity gossip you should be keeping on top of, and at church it’s much of the same. Your skirt shouldn’t be above this length and your friends shouldn’t be the sort that engage in these activities, and if you act like that, well then you can’t really call yourself a Christian at all, can you?
All it creates is coat situation 0.2. All the things about us that those around us have agreed don’t make us ‘Christian’ enough, remain hidden in the closets of our hearts only making an appearance when we’re with a more accepting crowd.
We can live a life striving after the ‘Christian’ perspective of what it means to be a Christian or we can find our reflections in Christ. When you see yourself the way you’re described in the pages of God’s word , you won’t look at yourself and see all the things you need to hide but all the things God’s going to change.
You may feel like God’s biggest disappointment because you keep getting it wrong, but God is saying:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
You won’t become a better Christian trying to be like Christians. It doesn’t matter what their opinion is of you, and it doesn’t hugely matter what you think of yourself, because God’s opinion trumps them all.
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:16-17
So let the haters hate and tell you that you have to serve God like this, and you have to pray like that and you have to stop going there and you have to stop wearing that. It’s God that does the transforming and even if you’re far away from where you want to be (we all are, serving Christ is a constant pursuit of him) you can have faith in that your God is going to get you to where you need to be.
Love ya like chicken and chips on a cheat day!