On my 14th birthday, I got the best gift of all.
I’m not sure why I was so excited to get these boots. I wore them everywhere. Church, friend’s house, grocery shopping, birthday parties…
It was not because cowboy boots were the most comfortable shoes I had ever put on my feet. No, my friend, I wore these boots despite the discomfort. It was worth the sacrifice.
Come to think of it, I remember exactly why I wanted cowboy boots.
do you notice me now?
To explain, let me share a story.
My sister and I went to a monthly “youth meeting” for 4-H. All the kids had a consistent look. Not a bad thing, but consistent. Jeans, boots, big belt buckles – you get the idea.
As the introverted, socially awkward kid on the outside looking in, I wanted to be noticed. To be apart of them. To feel confident when I was around them. That meant I needed to walk, talk, look, and sound just like the coolest kids there.
My 14th birthday party happened to be right before the first youth council meeting of the year. As you can imagine, I walked in with head held high.
With my cowboy boots.
do I fit in now?
Fast forward in time, and I grew out of my cowboy boots and insecurities.
Well…maybe not all of my insecurities.
After getting my first job, I realized it was time to buy a vehicle. That means getting a cheap, beat-up car like most smart teenagers, right?
Instead, I bought a heavy duty, crew cab truck with a 5.3L engine in it. It was massive. And it loved gas. A lot of gas.
Looking back, it was such a stupid decision (In case you’re wondering, I drive something more gas-friendly today). I can remember all the reason I came up with for needing the truck. But at the end of the day, I knew why I wanted that truck.
To impress my friends. To show them I could have a truck just as cool as they did. To fit in.
I think most teenagers go through these experiences. More than likely, you’re not worrying about boots and trucks to fit in. But maybe it is that specific brand of clothes. That hobby. That way you speak, talk, and hold your self. The things you watch and listen to.
It makes me wonder:
How many things are we doing on a daily basis that are based off what others will think of us?
That question is convicting.
God has given each one of us individual talents, gifts, dreams, and desires. How often do we ignore those to fit in? To buy the dreams and desires that other people have?
am i the only one?
It was a chilly morning at the fair grounds as I sat in the bleachers with hundreds of other kids. It was my last contest in 4-H before graduating school.
The contest will make most of you laugh – it was a dairy judging contest (seriously, I’m not joking). So there we were. All sitting there in the arena looking at the dairy cows and…well, judging them. For some reason, I glanced around at everyone surrounding me.
I can remember this like it was yesterday.
Every single kid had a camouflage jacket on. I’m not making fun of camo jackets. If that is your thing, go for it. But it struck me at that moment.
Everyone here was trying to fit in.
I looked down at what I was wearing. A bright plaid flannel shirt.
Being different for the sake of being different is not enough.
But when pursuing the dreams God has given you and utilizing the gifts He has blessed you with means being different – then be different. Because a life of trying to fit in becomes a life wasted.
If that means you’re the dorky kid wearing a flannel shirt in a sea of camouflage…
…then you better wear the flannel.