Title
The Oppressive Stencil
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The Oppressive Stencil

Have you ever fought the battle of conformity?  Teenagers often face this pressure heavily.  They can feel a constant strain to be like the “cool” kids, or to simply be like everyone else.  I thought that this was something you would eventually grow out of, but that is simply not true.

Each week we try to have a family fun night.  Our schedule does not always allow it to happen, but we try to make it a priority.  Each week a different member of the family gets to choose what activity we are going to do together.  Tonight, it was Tadpole’s turn.  She chose to try out one of our Christmas presents.  It was a little pump sprayer that turned markers into an airbrush set. We each took turns as we created our own picture with the stencils provided.  But, the most exciting thing was when I told the munchkins to go get a white shirt from their dressers.  The fact that they got to color on one of their shirts was unbelievable!

Squirmy chose to use one of the stencils that came in the box because, that is how it is supposed to be done.  He is very staunch on staying within the given guidelines.  He has a very difficult time coloring outside the lines.  A battle we often face in our home is with the menu my Beautiful Bride has posted on the refrigerator.  Squirmy just cannot understand that it is okay to eat something different than what was scheduled.  He will stare at the menu and asks so confused, “But, we are supposed to have hamburgers tonight Mom, not hot dogs?”  It is a serious blow to his psyche to eat something other than what was preplanned.

Tadpole, she couldn’t care less.  It doesn’t matter what the menu says.  Who even needs a planned menu?  She has no issue coloring outside the lines!  She is our little graffiti artist that will color on anything and everything if she thinks she can get away with it.  When it was her turn to color her shirt, she was ready to let the creative juices flow.  She chose to paint a giraffe.  It was looking pretty acurate until she decided that her giraffe needed eight legs.  She then chose to make a blue sky, some grass, and a huge sun.  She stepped back to take a look at her creation, and something was still missing.  She picked up the green marker and said, “I am going to put some green in the sky!”  Because, why not, I guess.

Tadpoles image was, lets just say, creative.  Squirmy’s image was exactly what the stencil intended it to be.  But, they were both done with the same amount of effort and we enjoyed watching both of them create their masterpiece.  It did not matter that they were made so differently.  I love every little difference and the uniqueness of my children.  It is those things that make them special.

God created us with these unique qualities.  He did not make a mistake when he made us different than others.  He designed us exactly as He desired, and He is pleased when we are exactly who he fashioned us to be.  Some of our idiosyncrasies and peculiarities might drive others nuts, but God loves every single one of them.  Now, I hope you realize that I am not talking about our sin nature.  That certainly needs to be eliminated.  What I am referring to is the uniqueness of our personalities.

I fear that sometimes we get this idea in our head that every Christian should be the same.  That we all should respond the exact same way to every circumstance of life.  That we all should be exact duplicates of one another.  Our families should be the same, or Churches should be the same, our way of life should be the same… I guess you can tell that I do not hold to that opinion in the least.  Yes, we all need to respond in the proper Biblical fashion, but the exact way we respond can vary drastically from individual to individual.

One person will show a heart for souls by going out on visitation and knocking on doors.  Another will show that same heart by praying fervently for their neighbor to be saved.  Another will take that exact same heart of compassion and respond by making a meal for a coworker that is ill.  It is the same virtue that God desires in all of them, but the actions that are brought about by that virtue is unique to the way God created the individual.

In Christian circles we can be just like teenagers.  We can find ourselves constantly pressuring others to be more like us.  We might not like a way others do this or that, so we try to get them to do things our way.  We want the to talk like us, sing like us, worship like us, dress like us, and on and on I could go.  Yes, I believe in standards.  Yes, I believe in doing things the right way.  But, I also believe that God did not intend for us all to be the exact same.  I believe it’s okay to be different.  I believe there is joy found in serving God the way He created us.

Yeah, we’re weird. But it’s a good kind of weird.

We need to come to a point where we can find joy in being exactly who God created us to be.  Perhaps we are surrounded by those that love to color using the stencils.  We must not succumb to the pressure around us to conform to the expectations of others.  We must be willing to follow the Lord’s leading, and sometimes be the only one coloring outside the lines. Often it is our uniqueness that God intends to use to reach others.

joy

How about you? Do you ever feel pressured to do things that go against the very core of who you are as a person. Do you every feel constricted by rules and guidelines that others have placed upon you, and you cannot find those stipulations in the Word of God? In what areas are you the most pressured to conform? Let us know what you think in the comments below. I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter!

Sure, you can send this article to anybody you want. And, if you’re REAL awesome, you’ll even tell them where it came from!

3 thoughts on “The Oppressive Stencil

  1. I am one who tends to feel I have to fit the mold. (Thanks to certain people in college, who didn’t fit anyone’s mold, I learned a little better that being “me” is okay. However I still struggle with it.) I am fine with others being themselves, but struggle to let myself be myself. I have my own dress standards, but that seems to be the only place my mind has really drawn the line of who I am. I can see myself more in the category with Squirmy, too, for myself. My drawings have to look just so, my crafts have to be just right….and I get frustrated when things aren’t as they should be. (Again, not with other people….which is strange, I can be patient with others, and let others be themselves, but not me.)
    Thank you for this encouragement.

    1. We can be so much easier on others. Often we expect more out of ourselves than we do from others. We should all strive to learn how to please God with our lives, not please others. Great peace is found when we realize that God is pleased with us, and we can rest in that fact alone. Far to often we walk by the fear of men, and not by faith in God. Keep striving to follow His will and to be who God created you to be!

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