saturday i was journaling at camp about the idea of image. church camp speakers frequently talk about this idea at retreats, i think. it makes sense. in high school, Jesus isn't cool. doing drugs and drinking and having sex is cool in high school, but going to church and youth group and reading the Bible really isn't. image was a lot different in high school than it is at my age, having graduated from undergrad on to grad school and almost into the "real world".
the other day i bought some cheap jeans from wal-mart. i'm generally opposed to wal-mart's practices, but that usually gets outweighed by the fact that i'm a poor grad school student and can't pass up $8 for new jeans. i'm pretty proud of spending so little on jeans. i bought two pairs for half the price it usually costs for one. no, they're not abercrombie or some other stylish brand, but they do the job and they don't look bad. this is not a decision i would have made as a teenager. teenagers are constantly challenged to improve their image by wearing cool clothes and acting cool all the time to impress others. how would people have felt about me in high school if i wore wal-mart jeans every day? maybe they wouldn't have cared, but i wasn't about to find out.
as we grow up we grow out of these external insecurities. we wear what feels comfortable. it's convenient that hipster crazes have brought sloppy dressing back into style so we can wear hoodies, jeans, or flannel and still feel like we're dressing hip. but the fact is i don't care how i look anymore. that's saying a lot considering several of my fellow students in grad school will come from work wearing nice dresses or shirt-and-ties while i'm sitting in the back with my avett brothers t-shirt and ripped jeans. sure, there's pressure to dress to impress, but as we get older i think we ignore that pressure a little more. or maybe that's just me.
but, as was pointed out by a close friend tonight, our insecurities change from external to internal. several of my friends have been getting married or are currently engaged. most of my friends have full-time jobs and live on their own. some of my friends are now even homeowners. the insecurities we develop as adults is the comparison we draw between ourselves and our friends in our maturity and our life stages. it's hard for me to wait tables while some of my friends are making enough to pay mortgages. it's unsettling to see girls i've dated getting married. and at times i feel immature when i have a 10-page paper due in two days and all i can do is pick up a guitar.
last night at the open door bj told us, in so many words, that comparing ourselves with others is a way to take the joy out of our lives. the truth is that God really does have timing for us and our lives. any time we compare ourselves with others we will feel like failures. we will always see the great things in others and not in ourselves. i see how good my friends are at playing instruments and think that i'll never be as good as they are. i'll see other friends playing sports and realize that i'll never be as good an athlete as others. i see a lot of my friends settling into marriage-situations at my age, or maybe even younger, and i'll feel like i'm falling behind. the fact is that i don't even want to get married right now, so why does that bother me? i'm not bad at guitar and i was even told recently that my voice isn't bad, so why should i worry about being some kind of expert? and i'm above average at a wide range of sports, so what does it matter if i'm not the best at any one in particular?
the fact is that God has created me as a masterpiece, as the speaker said this weekend. i've been created in this way for a reason. i'm in graduate school now to better equip me to serve the Lord in the future. i may not be as good as christian at playing guitar or singing, but he's not as good as i am on drums and that's how God has created us. it's hard to sit back and watch my friends progress in their lives as i sit back and do schoolwork again, but i also need to realize that when i'm done i'll have my masters degree and will be ready for what's next for me. it's not about having the confidence to wear inexpensive clothes anymore, it's about having the confidence to live a different lifestyle.
jared anderson's song, "rescue", speaks to me intensely every time. my favorite line is "this world has nothing for me", and that's the absolute truth. i don't serve anyone on this earth. i don't serve my managers or my professors or my classmates or my co-workers or even my friends. i serve the Lord Jesus Christ and no one else. through the Holy Spirit i do good works for the people around me, but this world has nothing to offer me besides the opportunity to share that Spirit with the people in it. that's the image i am called to project.
ephesians 2:10 - For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.