There has been something on my mind lately that I do believe is the reason I chose this small paperback bible study off my home office shelf. I have had 2 copies of this study on my shelf for years; purchased 2 books from a local Lifeway bookstore (one for myself and one to give away). But I only had completed the 1st chapter. This was back in 2006.
I’ve had these thoughts.
Why is there so much conformity? What exactly is conformity? Its:
- compliance with standards, rules, or laws
behavior in accordance with socially accepted conventions or standards
You see it everywhere. There is a growing compliance with the socially accepted standards of the world, the world’s ways and thoughts and tendencies. But also compliance in what is social-media accepted and what is not; what is considered the social standards of what I call “big areas of our life” – our behaviors, actions, customs, personal choices, attitudes, decisions and direction….
But also social-media accepted in what could be considered “small areas of our life” – our makeup choices, how we decorate a room, how we dress, fix our hair, the brands we associate with, what we drive, how we cook and clean … we go to social medias and the current culture to get our cues. This makes me wonder, ‘what did we do (as wives and mothers) before social medias? How did we decorate our homes and maintain our households without all the flood of outside ‘input’ into our lives?’
“The church is in almost as much trouble as the culture, for the church has bought into the same value system: fame, success, materialism, and celebrity. We watch the leading churches and the leading Christians for our cues.” ~ Chuck Colson
I have had experiences with young women who are wanting to make their home have a warm and inviting look, like what they see on Instagram in photos of some bloggers they follow. As I’ve talked with them, they both expressed anxiety over “getting it right” and second guessing what they like. From neutrals to blues to greens to antiques to mid-century modern, to farmhouse…they liked it all. But neither knew what they “really liked.” What they really saw as “home sweet home.” Their own thoughts had been so subtly swept away into conforming to what others did or had or how others made their spaces and rooms look, that they had “lost themselves.” They had not gotten in touch with their own thoughts about their own home.
So, I gave them both an assignment – Don’t get on any social medias. No bloggers. No Instagrams. No Facebooks. No Pinterest. Simply get out a piece of paper and write down words that describe “home” to you. What do you want to feel and experience in your home and what do you want others to feel and experience in your home.
That’s all. Start there.
This mindset of conforming to the ways of the world was talked about by Paul in Scripture. He said in 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.”
The New Living Translation says it like this – which I do believe really expresses Paul’s plea to all believers:
“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.”
Here is one reason why I really appreciate the NLT – it uses the word “you” a total of 4 times in 1 verse. The NIV used it only 2 times. BUT, Paul’s deeply inspired message within the verse is exactly what we find in the NLT because Paul was speaking to them in singular – not plural. Wanting each listener to receive what he was saying personally into their life.
When we understand that God is a personal and relational God, then we understand that His plan is to change ME into a brand new person (one of a kind person) that is set apart, unique, special and detailed with extreme value, given my own experiences, gifts, talents, skills, and personality. His plan is to take all that I am and transform me continually into a brand new person, walking in His good pleasing and perfect will.
Then that same personal and relational God does the same …. for you. That is why you can say:
My thoughts matter to Him:
My thoughts about home
My thoughts about church
My thoughts about family routines and schedules
My thoughts about being a good wife
My thoughts about being a good parent
My thoughts about being single
My thoughts about serving others
My thoughts about work
My thoughts about decorating our home
My thoughts about political and social issues
Our thoughts matter to God. And when they are based on His Word, when our thoughts are infused by ‘His input’ first, then they are non-conforming to the world or ways around us.
What do I mean by this in a practical sense?
Here’s another personal example.
Women (homemakers) will have me in their home to give them my thoughts and opinions on how to decorate. What fabrics to use, or textures to add to a room. What colors to put on the walls, or how to arrange their furnishings. BUT —- I love how they usually start off the process showing me a photo of something they like because they want me to ‘know them.’ They want me to understand ‘their thoughts’ in what they would like to see in that space or room. They will show me sometimes more than one photo to make sure they are expressing to me what it is they want.
What is really happening?
They are hoping to conform my thoughts to their thoughts. For my actions in decorating their home to conform to their vision. This is why the key (for me) in decorating is – listening. I need to know what it is they are ‘thinking.” And that is where I begin my work. Starting with ‘their thoughts’ and then my thoughts begin to conform to their desires.
In other words, listening to God first is where it begins. Hearing and receiving ‘His input’ (instead of social-media input) is what enables us to live non-conforming lives.
But when it comes to non-conformity….
This is what I wish we as women would be brave enough to do, like a salmon that is swimming up stream, because what I’m fixing to talk with you about (in a very practical sense) is really quite the struggle for many. But I wish we’d be brave enough to really sit down alone with God and ask,
“How do YOU want me to think regarding _______________?”
Fill in the blank.
……regarding the decorating of my home?”
……regarding the education of my children?”
……regarding the daily routines of our household?”
……regarding the way I care for my body, your Temple?”
Just fill in the blank and ask the Lord what are His thoughts … first. He truly cares about every detail of our life and He truly does have thoughts about every detail of our life. And those thoughts are numerous and precious to Him.
“How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!” Psalm 139:17
I believe if we will slow down, sit with God, and let HIM transform our thinking, we will discover
have been known to be.
“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.” Jeremiah 1:5
Ladies, if we aren’t careful, we will lose ourselves to a mirage. A mirage in a desert appears to be a small body of water. Exactly what a thirsty traveler would want. But as you get closer, you discover it’s not real. It is not really water. It drew you in, but it didn’t provide what you had hoped for. It wasn’t real.
God calls us to be real.
We don’t want to become a cookie-cutter woman of who we follow on Pinterest. On Instagram. On Facebook. We don’t want to conform to how ‘they’ set their dinner table. Or how ‘they’ dress and style their hair. Or how ‘they’ decorate their homes down to the smallest trinkets.
Please hear my heart in this … I am not knocking good ole’ inspiration. We all love to be inspired and get great ideas from magazine, websites, etc. BUT as long as it’s inspiration that resonates with YOU. How God is transforming YOU.
You don’t want to look up one day and find that the “you” He has called you to be is simply a conformed combination of all the “them’s.” ….. all the “them’s” you follow on social medias or even in your communities trying to mimic their choices, and their styles, and their behaviors, and their directions in life.
You aren’t worth losing. You are worth transforming!
And then here is the promise —
“Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
It doesn’t get any better than that, my friend.
That is why I grabbed that little paper back off my shelf. I want to be a Woman of Excellence in HIS eyes. Society beckons us to succeed – to achieve excellence in our appearance, our earning power, our family life. God Himself also beckons us to be women of excellence. But what exactly is He asking?
If you’re hungry for God’s perspective on success in a society that bombards you with conflicting demands, feed on the truths of God’s Word in this study and you will begin to experience the joy of becoming and conforming into God’s Woman of Excellence.