2.11.2010

Wait a minute. We have to become what?...for WHO???

So, I'm not gonna lie, I’ve totally lost my mojo for this story. I’m just over it. Sorry.


It’s just that last week was weird. There was the whole “your blog is too dirty” thing, and we had not one, but two, of our perfect, angelic kids birthdays to celebrate, and things between El Chupacabra and I were just...funky, and I was reading Sylvia Plath (and that just messes with my head). The whole week was weird and long and I just wanted it to end.


But what kind of person tells half of a story and then just leaves the rest hanging, right? That’s just a lame thing to do...


So, when we left off, I was getting ~ yet another ~ lecture from a well-meaning, but socially boxed Christian. So an ordinary parent/teacher conference turned into a lecture about personal style from a guy in pressed dockers and loafers, and a tie (she says with disgust). While he discoursed the “origens of ‘sagging’”, I was putting together an ugly little diatribe in my head (jeez, my life is starting to feel like Groundhog Day). When he was finished, I gathered my things, thanked him for his time, and then...


...I said nothing. Well, actually, I told him thank you again, and said that I would “speak with my son”. (I use phrases like that when I want to seem really, like, parental and stuff.) And then I left.


Do you feel like I rolled over? Are you disappointed?


Here’s the thing, I 100% disagree with EVERYTHING he said. While he was talking, I adjusted my nose ring a couple of times. It was my subtle way of reminding him of exactly who he was talking to. I mean, who does he think suggested the multi-colored hair, who does he think bought the gauges and the skinny jeans and the boxers that show? Who does he think explained the concept of the asymmetrical mullet in Spanish to our hair stylist? Duh. I’m the Mom. If I disapprove of something my kid is wearing, it’s gonna change. Real quick. So obviously, I approve.


Honestly? I love my son’s style. I love that he has the huevos to wear what he wants, to be himself, to expose himself to the criticism of kids, and adults, who are uncomfortable with others, or other Christians, who are different.


But.


There are two principals we’ve tried to instill in our kids, two things we want them to bring to the forefront of the Church as they step into their roles as leaders. They are the two things we believe will help to bring unity to a body that is disjointed and divided.


One is the principal found in Romans 12, which we find summarized in verse 18: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”


I wrote about this a looong time ago, here. And I believe it holds true to this circumstance.


When I “spoke with my son”, I tried to remind him that “everyone” means every one. Even the ones who can’t see past your pants. If he wants to be an ironic hipster, fine, but his responsibility, when he walks into his conservative teacher’s classroom, is to live at peace with that guy. And to do so respectfully. If he can do that, he gets to be the one that breaks down a barrier, the one that destroys the wall dividing the “good” Christians from the “bad”. He gets to do what his teacher can’t, and that is to say, “I value you, even though I disagree with you.”


And the other is from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, where he writes: I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.”


The truth is, If I were in the business of changing peoples minds, I would use this same verse to defend my son’s position to his teacher. A guy for whom, it would seem, there is zero chance of connecting with the tattooed, pierced, bed-headed fashionistas that God, Himself, is jealous for. But that is not my business. My business is to raise kids who understand that sometimes, we have to cast off our personal preferences, in order that others might see Jesus in us. And sometimes, we have to do that for other Christians, because when the Bible says “everyone” it means “everyone” and when it says “all” it means “all”.


So, here’s what we did. Flesh plugs for the ears during the school day. A hoodie around the waist (and over the boxers) during this particular class. And, with the approval of the school principal, the hair went from purple and teal to a shockingly dark, and perfectly emo, black (which is allowed because black is a “natural” hair color). But, above all, he should be carrying himself with respectful submission to those in authority over him. You know, like Jesus.


And hopefully, by doing so, those in authority will begin to see that Jesus is residing under that black hair and inside those skinny jeans. Maybe they’ll see that there is a place in the Body of Christ for different types of followers, so that WE, the Church, can be all things to all people so that WE might save some.


Oh, and by the way, my kid looks pretty cool with black hair, and the excessive chemical treatments have given it the coarseness to really stand up like crazy. So there's that. FTW!


Wow. I’m really glad I finished this. I feel better. :)

14 comments:

  1. This was far from the anticlimactic (who knew about that extra c? Thanks spell check!) ending you think it is. After reading this blog for a while, I had a feeling when you left the cliffhanger, we wouldn't be hearing about a smackdown you laid on that teacher. You teased us and made us wonder what kind of shenanigans you would do to make the guy think twice about questioning your son's style. Instead, you did the honorable thing and again, like many times before, served it up with some humble pie.

    That part about living peaceful with everyone is one I needed to hear. I am ridiculously argumentative (just ask my wife) and also annoyingly passive aggressive when I try to act like I don't mind that the other person is obviously wrong! I would have probably said all the things you were thinking because I enjoy arguing with holier-than-thou people (which lets be honest here, is there a worst attribute a Christian can possess?).

    However, you have yet again shown that there is a better way to deal with these people. Thanks for that, and as much as it has been said this past week, it never hurts to say it again... Thanks for being honest, and thanks for being ALL things!

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  2. This is exactly the way I would have handled it. Its a win-win. The boy saves face, the intrusive teacher gets respect. Respect is important for kids to learn.

    You are gonna ruin that "bad mom" moniker if you keep up this responsible parenting...

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  3. I love how you handled this...with 3 smaller kids, I will "file" this lesson away for future "fights" I expect are on our horizons eventually. What a great way to teach your kids to have a Christ-like attitude and love even when those who are older, and supposedly "mature" Christians don't!

    Rock on!
    Kathy Gouzoules

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  4. Just found your blog through SCL. You rock. May I have the grace to handle situations like this as well and as wisely as you do.

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  5. Awesome. Romans 14 is another great chapter to reference for this. Just insert 'wear' in place of 'eat' and 'clothes' in place of 'food'. Verse 19 also talks about making every effort for peace. It is so hard to be submissive to authority when they may actually be the 'weaker' brother. I struggle with this and then figure I'm probably even weaker because of my issues with pride. I wrote something about it, but haven't had the guts to post it yet. Thanks for having guts.

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  6. I had a feeling the ending would look like this. That's what I like about you.

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  7. HEY! so fun to find you here. we are heading off to thailand with our three small kids to help an orpahange for girls who are at risk for human trafficking, so i have loved reading your writing here. thanks for sharing so honestly. man, i love it! so liberating to get outside of the christian bubble . . . and yet not to use that freedom to totally blast those still in it. thanks for sharing . . .

    http://www.lauraleighparker.com

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  8. you might already know this, and you probably get it a lot, but i REALLY ENJOY reading your blogs. you're my kind of missionary family. you guys live in a way that we, well, pretty much advocate for in our organization. keep it up!

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  9. Wow, Darlin. Well said. Truly. I need a reminder to get humble once in awhile because the pleated-front khaki guys of this world are loved by Jesus too.

    And, since you mentioned that you really appreciate people engaging in the debate, I have to be a jerk and mince words for a moment. Mostly because I have a problem with the word authority.

    But, above all, he should be carrying himself with respectful submission to those in authority over him. You know, like Jesus.

    You love me for bringing this up, right? So, Jesus kind of didn't submit to the authority of the day. He was very respectful. Almost always. But He wasn't submissive. He really mocked the authority of the day. A lot. Those Pharisees were the but of so many jokes.

    Not that the kid should mock his teacher and if the school has a policy against multi-colored hair then you must submit. I don't at all think you made the wrong decisions, I just think there is something to be said for trying to change the standard.

    However, I'm sure you and yours can do that with "natural" hair colors and few piercings.

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  10. I thought I smelled a little of this: (it smells really nice by the way)


    "We are free to do all things, but there are things which it is not wise to do. We are free to do all things, but not all things are for the common good." (1 Corinthians 10:23)

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  11. Thanks Nora and Matthew, and welcome to the VWM. :)

    Alex,
    I DO love you for bringing that up! :) But, I have to disagree. It wasn't the authority of the pharisees that Jesus mocked, it was their hypocrisy. I think we see many examples of Jesus submitting to authority and encouraging others to do the same.
    We see him paying taxes. We see him willingly go into "police" custody (at the behest of the pharisees) . He submitted himself to the authority of governmental law, even to the point of death on a cross.

    I totally get what you're saying, and, like you, I'd really love to see some changes in the standard. But I do think we need to effect those changes very carefully in order to not create a greater division in an already hurting Church body.
    I dunno, that's just how I see it.

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  12. “I value you, even though I disagree with you.”
    Amen!

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