When I was in elementary school, I wanted so badly to be cool and trendy and fit in with the emerging popular crowd. It was the time when leggings and matching skirts were in. The queen of trend had a black set with bright neon buttons at the waistband - it was the 80s, go with it.
I didn't own any leggings, but I did own a denim skirt and jeans. Hopefully you see where this utterly tragic line of third grade thinking is going and I can skip the rest of the mortifying story. Halfway through the day I realized my mistake and hid out in the bathroom trying to get the skirt off over the jeans and find a way to surreptitiously stuff the thing into my bookbag. I don't think the faux pas helped my reputation any because I definitely didn't rise to anything resembling popularity.
I wish I could say I learned my lesson then, that I stopped chasing what the world thought of me and lived only for myself from that point on, but I didn't. My school years are like a lot of other people's - riddled with failed and embarrassing attempts to fit in with whatever was popular.
The defense against these humiliating and awkward moments is often an overly firm, "I don't care what people think". It's a huge lie. The reason I know this is because I've met someone who actually doesn't care. And they have no need to tell you that they don't because they don't care if you know that they don't care.
There's a beautiful thing that happens when you mature to the point of realizing that you can't chase everyone else's good opinion. You become free to chase what really matters. Matthew 6:33 says, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you."
The verses before this talk about all the people running around worrying about what they're eating and wearing and doing. Sound familiar? Reminds me very much of a little girl putting jeans and a denim skirt together in an effort to look like someone else.
When we give up chasing the world, we get to chase God - the most powerful being ever who is more than capable of providing everything we need. The beautiful thing is that the chase isn’t very long because God isn’t running. He is more than ready to catch you when you come searching.
Following only Him doesn't always look like we want it to - you may have to settle for non-designer jeans and last year's clearance top - but it is astonishingly more peaceful. This is the maturity God calls all believers to.
In Ephesians 4, God tells us about the gifts He doles out to believers. Not everyone gets to be a worship leader or a teacher. Some people are gifted with behind the scenes administration or they have the magic touch with babies which unfortunately come with poopy diapers.
All too often we see believers chasing after roles God didn't call them to because the benefits of that role look appealing. That isn’t any better than chasing worldly trends and approval.
Towards the end of the chapter, God warns us about the dangers of going after what we think we want instead of what He has planned. He says that maturity comes when we become unified in our different gifts and goals, our different paths.
"Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning and cleverness in the techniques of deceit. But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head- Christ." Ephesians 4:14-15
In case you haven't noticed, what's popular in the world changes daily. And the people around you may have differing opinions of what you should be doing. If you allow those things to dictate your life, you will be in constant turmoil, without clear direction, and at the mercy of their approval. When you seek the Kingdom of God, though, and allow Jesus to mature you to the point of following Him instead of the world, your course remains steady.
How great would it be to know who you were and where you were going, without worrying about what the rest of the world was doing? For many of us, it seems like a pipe dream. But God has declared it possible - with His help.
So grab on to the One who never changes. His Word has been constant from the beginning and he will never turn you away. Your path will be constant. That isn’t to say you won’t have your own jeans and denim skirt moment, but when you learn from it and finally get your own pair of leggings, they’ll still be in style.