I think that we all have different variations to our personalities. This can go without saying obviously. These differences tend to define how we are viewed by others. Oftentimes these differences we have from others are a result of past experiences that we have had. Other times it has to do with our convictions regarding our core beliefs. One of my seminary professors referred to this as the legitimating narrative. This term is used to describe why people are the way that they are: it’s because of the life that they have lived.
At different portions of our lives, we will try and blend in with what everyone else is doing. We succumb to the crowd, heck, we join the crowd, we conform. In the eyes of many, it’s an anticipated action and to deviate from this is actually doing the unimaginable. However, we live in a society of options and we have become a society of so many options that we no longer have to come up with new options because they have all been laid out for us. Don’t want to eat lunch at McDonalds? go to Burger King, or Wendys or Chick Fil A or Subway or Jack in the Box etc. Don’t like your cable tv package? get Apple TV or Roku or FireTV or Smartcast or Sling. Also get Netflix or Pureflix or Amazon Prime or Hulu or just make peace with cable being frustrating. Don’t like driving your car? take an Uber or Lyft. Make the trip shorter by flying with Southwest, United, American, Delta, Frontier or if you’re in the mood for a horrible experience then take Spirit.
While creativity is exploding in some areas of our society, it’s been stuck in other areas. Being different from the norm often means taking criticism, both fair and unfair. This doesn’t mean that creativity should be put in a box. I’ve never heard of a music artist or even genre that existed without receiving negative feedback from a group of people. We all have those foods that we love and hate and don’t understand those who feel the opposite of how we do. When you do something different, you’re probably going to get some negative attention to some degree. I thought that I would do this on this particular post.
One popular term that I have heard used for how the Christian community is to be is “counter culture.” While I understand the good merit behind this, I would like to propose something slightly different: we become an alternative culture. I say this because there are things about our culture that are actually pretty great and even biblical. Why stand against those things?! One of the primary moral ethics of those who are 35 years old or younger (millenials and younger) is “Do No Harm” or basically everything is ok as long as it doesn’t harm any person in any way. While I have my own personal questions about this ethic, I also realize that there could be some far worse ethic codes to live by. I’ll also note that this ethic code is very similar to what we refer to as the “Golden Rule” found in Matthew 7:12. Some of this alternative culture would indeed be counter to the culture that we are currently living in. I do not know many people who fully immerse themselves in all aspects and facets of mainstream culture. Everyone stands out in their own ways whether intentionally or not. I am proposing that we, as followers of Christ, take a stand for the good things of God currently existing in this culture and then love and teach the areas of cultural collision.
|SeaWorld with the Kiddos|
|Tubing the Comal|
Before I share some things I do differently, I want to give a disclaimer or two. First of all, I am not going to tell you that everything that I do on this list (or in general) is right or correct for you as well and that if you do it differently then you’re wrong. You might do something in life differently because you need to or simply believe differently on something than I do. Also if you do not believe in Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior of your life, some of these things might seem weird to you or even ridiculous. Feel free to comment or message me and we can have a conversation about that. With these being shared here go a few things that I might do a bit differently, but also a little reasoning behind it.
- While a bedtime for my kids exists in my house, it is not a lawful mandate every single night. Maybe this has something to do with how I was raised myself. Don’t get me wrong on this either. On most nights, my two youngest are in bed asleep by no later than 8:30 (the two older ones have a little bit later bedtime). I have never been able to fully understand the houses where people are married to their kids’ bedtime. I have seen more than one family not come to various events and activities for school, extracurricular, and/or church because of how late their kids would be out. Some of my favorite memories as a kid were when I stayed out late. I still remember being at the rodeo in Sikeston, MO watching my cousin ride out with the American flag and my Aunt Wanda dancing in the stands to Clint Black. I was 8 then and was out until 1am on most of those nights. I remember being up until 9 or 10 on some Wednesday evenings during school nights so that after Bible classes we could go eat a late dinner with the “super families” from my church. You know what I don’t remember? Being asleep or what I was dreaming about. I don’t even remember being asleep or my dreams from last night. From 11pm-7am, I have absolutely nothing to talk about from last night. Now when I was a kid, was I sometimes grouchy the next morning due to being so tired? Probably. However, if you asked me if my kids would have a lifelong memory like I do and in exchange I would have to deal with them being cranky that next day, would I do it? Absolutely.
- We have open discussions about sex in our house. It’s astounding and even disturbing how many households cannot say this. I told many of the parents in my church a few days ago that if you are not talking to your kids about sex, then someone else is. The problem then is that your child gets to choose who that person is and it usually isn’t someone you would have chosen for your child, or anyone else in society for that matter. We talk about sex and relationships with our oldest who is now at a dating age. We’ve begun these talks with our 12 year old who is not far away from that stage. We’ve even begun having anatomy talks with our 2 and 3 year olds and how those are special places of the body that God made for a special reason and that they are not “dirty” (though of course they should be washed while bathing too).
- I try to read something every day that is much longer than 150 characters. I have always been someone who hated reading. It bored me and I ended up finding a lot of books that took too long to read and get to their points. I am finding authors who get me and that’s helping. I’m also discovering that God really gets me too when I read the Gospels. Read something besides twitter, instagram or facebook. Feed your soul with something other than a screen. I am becoming very thankful for it myself.
- My kids are allowed to see me drink alcohol. My parents do not drink at all. They had family and friends who were destroyed by it both figuratively and literally so I grew up in an alcohol free environment and to this day when I go home, the house remains that very same environment. While I respect them and that decision, it also opened my eyes to some other things. I went to a private Christian school growing up where those my age who consumed alcohol simply did it to get drunk. They became people whom God did not create them to be and I’m convinced that is why the Bible speaks out against drunkenness but not against drinking (you could make a decent biblical case for the consumption of alcohol if you wanted, but that’s not what this post is about). I noticed that most of those kids grew up in houses where alcohol was not even allowed to be seen let alone drank. I think that’s why so many of my friends went crazy with it: they didn’t know how to handle the responsibility that comes with it. I’m ok with my kids seeing me have the occasional drink because I want them to see that one can both drink and be sober and responsible at the same time. I feel like the Prohibition Act and it’s repercussions should have taught us something by now.
- My relationship with God comes before my relationship with my wife or kids. I don’t think that many people fully buy into this. They’ll say something to the effect of “yea but why can’t we have both?” and the answer is that while that is indeed possible for some, it is not the option for all. We are taught in both the old and new testaments to love God above all. The way I see it, without God I wouldn’t have my wife or kids anyway. I need this relationship to be the focal point of my life or else I would never be capable of being even a remotely good husband or father or friend or minister, etc. One of the hottest things that my wife can do is put God ahead of me and let me see her do it. She’s leading a parenting book club for mom’s tomorrow night….I’m a little turned on just thinking about it……
- Ninety-five percent of the time, I will side with the teacher or coach when there is a dispute involving my kid. As a former teacher and coach myself, I can’t tell you how degrading it is to be chewed out by a parent while the student is present. A few years ago, I actually had a parent go to my athletic director at the school I worked at to tell him I needed to be fired. We were 19-3 that year. The worst part was that these parents said and did these things while their child watched. When kids see this, they’re taught something immediately: I can get away with almost anything as long as mommy or daddy are around. My parents NEVER sided with me when there was a dispute between me and a coach or teacher, even on the very rare occasion when I would be right! I’m thankful for that now because it helped me learn to work out my issues with people instead of having my parents come in and do it for me. One of my kids had a coach this past year who clearly did not know what he was doing, but he was trying and was kind to all the kids and did his very best. I appreciated his work and dedication to my kid as well as the others. The exception here is when a teacher or coach is blatantly disrespecting my child and giving non-constructive criticism (i.e “you suck”). In this case, I do NOT confront the teacher or coach in front of my child. Adults should always be respected by children, especially those willing spend their time working with younger people. It is NEVER an easy job.
- I still have the occasional moment of weakness where I pick my nose or bite my nails. I never said that I was proud of the things on this list……
- I don’t own a gun and currently have no plans of that changing. I can see potential future scenarios where this could change but as of right now, I don’t have a gun. Please don’t perceive this as me being a hater of guns or those who own them. I have no problem with others owning guns and have tons of friends who own them. I simply choose not to because of the type of person I am. I simply don’t see enough scenarios that could occur where I would want to shoot a gun. I don’t like to hunt (yes I have tried it before and I simply don’t feel drawn to the idea of waking up at 4am to drive out into the middle of nowhere in 40 degree weather and climb into a tree to wait for an animal that may never actually show up). Yes if someone were to break into my house then I would not have a gun to protect them (I have plenty of knives). I’m still under the understanding that you are actually safer without a gun statistically (also I have noticed that a lot of people say that they stash guns to protect themselves from intruders but unload them in order to protect their children were they to find them. I have to ask: if someone breaks into your home, then will you ask him/her to simply wait while you load your gun???). Again, I have no problem with people owning a gun or multiple guns, but I choose not to.
- I am intentional about going on dates and getaway trips with my wife whenever possible. I actually think that this might be more important than your relationship with your kids for one simple reason: if your relationship with your spouse isn’t where it needs to be, then it’s very difficult for your relationship with your kids to be the same way. In the 7 years that I worked in youth ministry, a very common theme that I noticed was that many of the kids who had struggles in their lives also had parents who had a fractured relationship (this wasn’t always the case but I would say 75% of the time). Ashley and I will go out about once a week and do some sort of getaway trip every year. Personally, I think it’s the hardest to parent my kids when I’m not on the same page with her.
- Everyone who is in our family is IN our family. This might sound like something that everyone does but after talking with Ashley about it, we don’t think so. We make it a point to do most of our family things together. There are the times when Audrey will have a game she needs to work or attend or a school thing and the same on occasion for Addy, but for the most part, we do things together. It can be very difficult for a 16 year old and a 2 year old to do all their things together because of how different their life stages are, but we want them to enjoy their time together. A time is coming and is not far away when Audrey will be in college and not able to do very much with our family. It is very important for us to do things together so that we have these memories and we will be able to look both back on those memories and smile and laugh and also look forward to making more as our kids grow up, gain spouses, and live their lives apart from their mom and dad.
|Our Denver getaway trip|
|Incredibly blessed by these five people|
I want to reiterate that I don’t think that everyone should do everything on this list. I simply do some things differently. I figure that there might be some backlash from some of the things on this list as well. I have spent time in prayer and discussion with my wife about it and this list is a huge part of who I am so I don’t see myself changing much of this anytime soon (and some of this ever). In our culture of polarity thinking where either we agree with someone or disagree to the point at which we feel the need to prove them to be idiots for not seeing our side, I believe it is imperative that we accept people where they are before immediately trying to instill changes in them so that they will become the people that we think they should be. This isn’t how we have ever been called to treat people and while there is plenty of room for open conversation, we can only control ourselves at the end of the day. I hope that this blesses you in some way and encourages you to be open about who you truly are. Blessings.