Do what’s expected. Or do what God expects?
What if you felt compelled to do something that had consequences that could impact how others thought of you, saw you or engaged with you?
What if the decision would go against the grain of your upbringing or the cultural norms you live your life by?
If we say no to what God is asking, then we live in disobedience. But if we say yes we have to trust him with the ramifications of the obedience. If we say yes to God we agree to live life differently than the world. It can feel like a dilemma.
Perhaps the easier decisions to identify are the choices we make because it fits into the box of what others expect.
How often do we follow the path our sphere of influence has laid out for us? The pressure to “do what’s expected” is real.
How many decisions do we make that we never even consider consulting with God? Instead, we consult with the chains of cultural expectations.
Have these thoughts ever rolled through your mind,
“Of course, my child/ren is going to college, that’s just what we do.” or “Of course I’ll climb the corporate ladder, that’s what’s expected of me”
“Of course” statements are easier understood as “ I can’t” statements, like these:
“I can’t have a job that requires support raising.”
“I can’t go into that profession”
“I can’t drive that kind of car”
“I can’t be a stay at home mom”
“I can’t wear my hair like that”
“I can’t go there”
“I can’t be friends with them”
“I can’t support this cause”
“I can’t write this book”
“I can’t admit I am struggling.”
“I can’t admit I need help.”
“I can’t be sad, angry…or anything less than Okay!”
Why…? “Because it’s not what “WE” do!
Pause. Right. Here.
Who’s the “WE”?
Who is the “WE” that speaks loudly into our decisions?
The “WE” is made up of our culture, our family of origin, the media. The “WE” is whoever’s voice we allow to mold and shape our thinking. The voice of the “WE” is so ingrained in our thinking that we don’t even question it – we just constantly try to live up to it.
The “WE” is whomever we allow to have our ear – and therefore have our life’s trajectory.
When we assimilate to the “WE” we lose our voice. We lose our impact. We lose the power that God has put within us. “WE” causes us to play life safe, to stay in the lines and not veer from what is expected and conditioned.
God didn’t put us on this earth to live safe and live according to familial expectations and society’s whims. He put us on this earth to SEEK FIRST HIS KINGDOM. (Matthew 6:33)
Life on this earth is not about us. And therefore the “WE”, when it comes to eternity and what really counts – is meaningless.
I can’t tell you how many times people have said to me that Christian life just looks boring. It doesn’t look fun. And to that my comment is always – it’s not the Christian life, it’s the Christian that’s boring and not fun. Boring and not fun have nothing to do with being a Christian.
There is a notion that in order to live the Christian life we have to “give up” so much. We can become so consumed with what we have to give up that we may never see what we can gain by giving up what we are holding on to.
Take a look back at the short list of “can’t statements” that the culture, family of origin or other sources of influence put on us – or more rightly, we assume.
This list of can’t feels like a boa constrictor tightening itself around our bodies – until over time we can’t breathe. When we can’t breathe and feel trapped, we become YES people. Saying yes to whatever it is that the culture arounds us serves up as the main entree.
Some think that following Jesus is restricting. After following him for many years, I can safely say I am more free today than I have ever been. Because I answer to ONE. The trinity of the Bible who have a seat on the throne of my heart and life.
Jesus is a perfect example of breaking free from societal norms, and living as God prescribes.
Jesus went against the grain of the pharisaical teachings and regulations. Jesus exposed their desire for control over the people and their hunger for power. For them, it was about being right and having control as opposed to the love, truth and grace that Jesus stood for.
Over the last few years there have been a series of opportunities that God has brought into my path to help me break free from my concern with what others may think of me. He has helped me break loose from people pleasing and going along with norms “just because that’s what we do”!
My most recent opportunity for growth in this area was a super-short pixie cut.
When I got in the chair at the hair salon I felt this tug, “I just need to do this!”
Silly, right? What could a haircut possibly teach about the Christian life?
Let me tell you – it has exposed some things!!
It exposed that I hadn’t cut my hair short before because I was concerned with what others would think.
It exposed that my self-confidence came from a cute, acceptable haircut.
It exposed that I make huge assumptions about what others are thinking of me- before I even walk into a room.
It exposed my concern with the opinions of others. Even the others who have passed from this life.
It exposed my embarrassment when I didn’t fit the typical mom look for south FL. Long wavy sun bleached locks!
It exposed a sense of false -identity, I am what my hair says about me.
It exposed my assumptions about other women who have this same hair cut – they were recovering from cancer or gay.
At the end of the day, the haircut I got was not about the hair cut. It was about a growth opportunity God was allowing me to walk through. He is showing where I make judgements about other people because of how they look. He is helping me to learn how not to do “what’s expected” just because it’s expected.
Instead, God is asking me to do what HE is asking of me. Day by day. Moment by moment.
Romans 12:2 (NLT) says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Who knew a silly hair cut could be such a growth opportunity for the Christian life?
This blog is an invitation I want to extend to you. It’s an invitation to a stop and start. Stop living your life by the standards of the cultural norms, your family of origin and my social media. Start living your life according to the word of God that is at work in your -renewing your mind, pruning you, molding you to be the son or daughter HE needs you to be.
This is an invitation to break free from the chains of cultural expectations. To break free from being a “yes” person to the wrong authority. Say “yes” to Jesus. Do what He expects. Live free from expectations and religious dogma and lean into all that God has for you.
It’s okay not to do what is expected of you. Let’s trade the expectations we are holding on to for God’s “good, pleasing and perfect” plan for us.