“Brothers and sisters:
I declare and testify in the Lord
that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do,
in the futility of their minds;
that is not how you learned Christ,
assuming that you have heard of him and were taught in him,
as truth is in Jesus,
that you should put away the old self of your former way of life,
corrupted through deceitful desires,
and be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
and put on the new self,
created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.”
-Ephesians 4:17, 20-24
The above passage from Ephesians just happened to be the second reading from this past Sunday’s mass. It was one of those masses that, for me, it just felt like God was speaking directly to me with the readings He chose. Because this weekend I realized something.
I’ve gotten so used to the community I’m surrounded by in all my classes, and my amazing friends at home, not to mention my family who are always there to build me up, that I sometimes forget that, in the grand scheme of things, the way I live my life is sort of weird.
High school often kept me conscious of this fact (as high school is generally quite good at poking at the insecurities of anyone). Don’t get me wrong, I had a really great high school experience (probably just about as good as they come). I had amazing friends and we did a lot of the normal high school things—like go to football games, dances, and laugh about stuff that no one else outside of our group would find funny. But I still sometimes felt like a loser because I didn’t do some of the other things that most people considered normal for a highschooler—like drink, party, hook-up, or even freak dance at the dances.
I often struggled with this in high school. It was tough being different. I remember asking myself on several occasions if maybe I was being just a little too uptight (maybe you’re thinking right now that I was being a bit too uptight). “What’s the big deal?” I’d think, “Everyone else is doing it. It’s not even that bad compared to X, Y, or Z.” Unfortunately, that little voice inside of my head wasn’t usually satisfied with comparative, or relativistic, morality. Maybe it’s not that bad compared to something else, but that doesn’t mean it’s good. Today, I praise God for giving me the strength to stand my ground in high school (…most of the time anyways. I won’t claim that I never made mistakes.) —even though it may have made me feel like somewhat of a loser on certain occasions.
Sadly, it doesn’t. I still constantly feel God calling me to look like a fool for Him in new and terrifying ways. Whether that be in telling someone that He loves them, or admitting my failures and apologizing to someone I’ve hurt when it sounds so much more satisfying to give into stubborn pride and come up with all sorts of ways to justify my actions with sarcastic comments. Sometimes it’s tough to “put on the new self,” as God calls us to do in Ephesians. Sometimes the “old self” just sounds so much more comfortable. But we need to always strive to be growing as people. And sometimes to grow isn’t all that comfortable.