As I heard myself speak I wanted to bite off my own tongue. Those same dreaded words ”if your friend decided to stick their head in the fire would you do it too?”
A flash of realisation, I had sounded just like my parents. I use to hear that phrase so often as a kid. Not that sounding like my parents is bad. It’s more a case of, now I knew how it felt in their shoes.
The memory of getting summoned to ” The Good Room” still very clear. It was the room with lovely thick pile cream carpet fancy furniture and royal Doulton and crystal ordainments. While the rest of the house was well lived in the Good room remained like a show house. It was only used when we had visitors, Christmas morning when Santa had left our presents there and yes! “THE TALKS”
Basically, if you got called to the Good room you could kiss goodbye to your freedom for the next week at least. Seldom did one leave these chats, without having their social life greatly impacted. Consequences for what usually was a relatively minor offence to start. But once my smartmouth combined with my utter insistence on having to have the last word. Were in action usually made it into a much bigger issue. Guaranteed me a week solitary confinement in my room. ( I know dramatic right) but away back then there was no mobiles or ipads or laptops believe me. A week with only my trusty yellow Sony Walkman and a ghetto blaster radio/tape deck to record the weekly charts on. and depending on just how bad my crime was even they could have been removed it was Torture!! And my kids near have a nervous breakdown if the wifi is off for an hour. They Dont know they’re living.!
But getting back to the infamous sentence. If your friend decided to put his head in the fire would you do it too?
Teenage Terri, never knew when to help her self and zip it. when I was a kid I was stupid enough to glance over to the gas fire that was never lit and answer back with a wisecrack like ”aye as long as it wasn’t lit”.
My son, on the other hand, has a little more sense and seems to know when to cut his losses and gives a simple “obviously not mum”.
Thinking back to the memories of idiotic things I did and paid the price for as a kid. I remember how in school me and my friend would both agree not to do homework. (Well because it was stupid and a waste of time. of course) Dopy Dora ( that’s me) actually didn’t do it. But my friend always managed to magically produce a completed homework when the time arrived to hand it in. Lesson learnt one would think (Nah absolutely not this continued for a long time) Spot the idiot eh?
As a high school kid, I was ridiculously impressionable. I acted out a lot of the time to win popularity with my classmates. If there was something stupid to be said or done almost always I readily volunteered. I lapped up the glory of the giggles and claps as I was frogmarched out of the classroom to sit with my desk in the corridor, while the rest of my class continued inside. I spent a lot of break and lunchtimes in the corridor outside the staffroom too while my friends enjoyed their lunchtime. I thought about how much the me now would struggle to even tolerate the teenage Terri. Honestly, I think I would be more drawn to her. I would want to assure her of her value and worth that there was no need to impress to win friends. that people would love the genuine version of her just as much if not more. Most likely my teacher did try to tell me this and I didn’t take it on board.
As I got older this now well-established pattern continued to reign powerfully in my character. I still would have been very easily led to silly circumstances with unwanted consequences. Mostly out of a Longing of acceptance or an eagerness to impress. I remember being put out and banned from the local pub because of wait for it… The bouncer was cheeky to my friend!! my friend who was not only older but more than capable to handle this herself. However when she told me in some kind of Grand gesture of loyalty I decided to take on the bouncer myself. I ended up banned for six months. Guess where the faithful companion was the next weekend on new years eve? while I standing in the rain soaked to the skin full of remorse and begging forgiveness to the bouncer who was refusing me entrance. Yip inside with the others enjoying the night! (ugh, I cringe when I think back to just how gullible I was.)
So as Miraculous as it would be for someone like me to find God and accept Jesus as my saviour and receive forgiveness for my sin, it’s TRUE! isn’t God good? unfortunately, I was not automatically delivered from this deep-rooted mindset. I was no longer tackling bouncers and getting banned from pubs but I still had a desperate desire to please others, Win favour with people. constant desperation not to lose people in my life even when having these people around me was damaging and impacting my new found faith. I spent a lot of time conflicted about what I knew the word of God was saying about how I should live my life, and how differently other Christ followers around me lived their lives what looked like the same happiness and peace if not more. all around me people were getting the things they wanted it seemed, with out the same obedience. I would wobble under the influence of others bad behaviour not only did I feel powerless to stand against in but I would join in and then rationalise my bad behaviour by how much someone else “got away with” and disregarded Gods word. “if they do it. it must be ok for me too”. Right?! it would be ok for a little time until the ripple effect started to damage how close I felt to God. before long my joy and peace were gone. I would be irritable and angry at missing out on the closeness with God. It was Just like the other times, Only this wasn’t just my school day or a night out on the town that was being ruined. This was wrecking my relationship with God my here and now the joy that came from being rooting in Gods love. This was damaging my future and how I would spend eternity. Which of my friends was going to be patting me on the back and whistling and clapping me on as I walked into hell? ( exactly if your friend decided to stick their head in the fire was I willing to do that too?)
“Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.”
Romans 12:2 TPT
I had to come to the realisation that I alone was responsible for my own destiny which God had in place for me. I alone would answer to God for my behaviour and not that of my friend. It was a responsibility which I needed to start to take seriously. Not to be shaped by the influence of others or a need for acceptance. I needed to let God be the dominating influence in my life. my behaviour needed to reflect Gods word, not my mates. I needed to be fully surrendered to his will and his way for my life. not pick and chose the bits that suited me and scrap the rest and settle for others acceptable standards and approval.
We can tiptoe around this topic as much as we like, butter it up as much as possible and throw glitter on it to make it look more appealing to those who have yet to know Christ. but the truth is when you give your life to Christ. You are committing to a life of obedience and surrender to Gods will. entering into a relationship, growing in God day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. allowing God to shape your character, listening to who God says you are not what the world says you are. it’s not just a free ticket into heaven. while you get to do whatever you want down here on earth till that day comes.
I’ve listened to thoughts some have of what it means to follow Jesus. The pendulum seems to swing from being a Christian is following a set of strict rules and being utterly miserable to the other extreme oh yeah baby!! anything goes this is a ticket into eternity.
in John 10:10 Jesus said that he came that we may have life and have it to the full. (Not misery!) Gods word is not a set of rules to bind us up in legalism but a guideline to free us from the worlds distorted view. A life where we are not shaped and judged by the worlds standard but by Gods standard. for me having an intimate relationship with Jesus brings me more joy and peace than I’ve ever known. But it has also meant. Saying no when something doesn’t honour God. It’s walking away from situations that would lead me to sin, it’s saying no to the things society says is perfectly acceptable behaviours, It’s standing alone sometimes it’s being the “spoilsport”, At times it’s telling my friend that I don’t like her behaviour or refusing to come into an agreement because that’s not how God wants you to live. knowing that could very well end the friendship. so believe me from someone who has spent the best part of her life knee deep in a approval seeking. This was no easy adjustment to my life. It has come at a cost of lonely nights and tear streak cheeks. It has meant saying no to something I desperately wanted because it didn’t align with Gods will. It’s meant being rejected( my biggest fear) by those I had held in such high regard. its meant not always having the last word. its meant respecting authority even if I didn’t like or agree with it.
“Of course, your former friends are surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do. So they slander you.”
1 Peter 4:4 NLT
This Life will throw all sorts of crap our way. But if we remain grounded in faith and trust God plan for our live through all this. Stay secure in our identity in Christ. It will be worth it. this life with God is the best life we could live. God wants the best for us his plans for our life are so much better than we could even think or imagine.
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”
Ephesians 3:20 NLT
Do you ever feel seduced by other peoples ungodly behaviour? get tricked into thinking it is ok because your friend gets away with it and hey she is a Christian too?
My advice is talk that one over God because you may just be doing more than sticking your head in the fire. Paul tells us in Romans 14:12 We will each give an account for our own sin. I don’t think God will accept excuse #17364 “my mate did it so I thought it was ok”. Not when you have had access to the truth and ignored it. It’s not your car Mot. you don’t get play the dumb blonde card and still get a pass.
“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”
Colossians 3:17 NLT
Take everything to God in prayer.