For over five years, Isaac and I have set out on our morning walks with a teal bag on my back to carry all his "essentials." I don't remember how much I paid for the collapsible bag, but it wasn't much, and we've certainly gotten our money's worth out of it.
The bag still functions, but the sweat, rain, machine washings, and occasional tumble in the dirt have left it looking ragged. So with a coupon in hand for one of my favorites stores, I went online in search of a new companion for our walks. I wanted something a little different from what we'd had, but I wasn't sure what.
I came upon a fanny pack. Yes, it even had the label of "fanny pack," and I thought, "Those are perfect for walking a dog!" As I checked out, I remembered having a fanny pack as a kid when we'd take family vacations to the beach. My sister and I would wear visors with our names painted in big, bubble letters, and our fanny packs would hold "spending money" for us to buy tie-dyed T-shirts and snow-cones. The memories were good, and I couldn't help but wonder.
Why did I ever quit wearing fanny packs and visors?
As for the visor, having my name practically painted on my forehead wasn't exactly the norm among junior high girls. But I liked the fanny pack, and it was practical for more than just vacation. Somewhere along the way, both the visor and the fanny pack became "uncool" to me. I opted for sunglasses and purses--what all the other girls were using, which must have been cool.
It's funny how easily we decide what is "cool" or "uncool" based on what other people say, be it a peer group or the latest fashion fad in a magazine or on Pinterest. We define what is hip by what other people tell us instead of what we hear ourselves saying. We spend a lot of time listening to the opinions of one another but not to the Voice within us.
This verse from Romans has been sadly misused over time by Christians to declare everything in the world is all-caps BAD, and Christ's disciples must totally isolate themselves from the world in order to be all-caps GOOD. I think that's because we often read the first part of the verse as a rule while neglecting the second half of the verse as the result of new life in Christ. The result of transformation is discernment, hearing God's voice, following God IN the world and not isolating ourselves from all the good God is revealing in that world.
It's easy to go with the crowd's opinion, and peer pressure exists far beyond teenage years. But there is a way for us to thrive in the world, working together, and living out the gifts God has placed within us all. We must learn to be ourselves, rejecting labels of "cool" and "uncool," and embrace being who God created us to be. Even if that means being the only fanny pack in a room of messenger bags.
Now we just have to find that visor to go with it. I may even paint the name ISAAC on it.
all good things to each of you,
Pastor Darian (and Paw-stor Isaac)