My student’s socks bothered me ever since he attended therapy sessions with me. Everyday, he wore socks that were almost above his knees. I told him that such clothing does not seem appropriate.
“But I want it this way.” was the response. I dare not go against that.
I still felt weird. I felt it was a fashion statement gone wrong even if I barely understood what was fashionable. All I know is that wearing high socks that reaches the knees looked odd. I should know because I used to wear those socks.
Back when boys wore shorts to school, I wore socks that reached up to the knees. I also had hair parted in the middle. I took pride in how my hair reached my nose. I was jeered a lot and was even bullied in part because of it. They said I looked like a dork, as if I knew what that meant – I just learned how to read. Still, everyone thought I looked funny. I guess I did.
Still, I held my ground and wore it for three years until pants were required for boys. The pants hid the socks so there was no point in showing it off. I later on learned that the long socks was fashionable only among soccer players with shin-guards behind their socks. I gave in later on.
Actually, I admired this kid for holding his ground despite my protestations. Sometimes saying that you prefer it that way is enough explanation – especially with the way you wear your socks. At least for now, he still finds it cool. Just wait until you grow up kid. Besides, I know he will have wear pants soon. It won’t be long until he would have to give up on the long socks. He will look back on his clothing preference and feel the shame I felt.
Keep wearing those socks kid. Don’t bother what I would say or think about you. I know you will regret it in the end, I did!
I nearly dozed off while in a coffee shop. I know, this is a huge irony, but I shrugged it off and sat upright. I looked around to see if anyone was watching my antics. If anyone saw me, I wouldn’t know; everyone seemed preoccupied with their own businesses to care, or so I thought.
Why would they care anyway? I thought.
“Why do you care?” and “I don’t care what you say or think about me!” are two of the most unreliable statements we could ever say or hear. More often, we utter those words in defense of our actions and to console ourselves that we are doing the right thing.
The problem with these statements is that it is impossible to not think about what other people would say or do. Suppose you were sitting in a coffee shop or in your cozy office, suddenly a well dressed stranger comes in and sits on the chair in front of you. Whatever words you may use to describe the feeling – weird, awkward or odd – the point is that you are already thinking about the person. This is because we were built to be social. We may shy away from interaction but we would always think of the people around us and adjust our actions or our interactions.
Same line of thinking goes to those who say that they are weird or not normal. You wouldn’t come to that conclusion if you did not make any comparison with what is “normal.” We always think about what other people feel or think about us, no matter how much we deny it. We get affected at one point or another. It’s how we are wired.
On the other hand, God calls us to be ourselves when we face Him. Sure, we aim to please Him, but He knows everything about us already that we cannot pretend otherwise. Thus, he calls us to be ourselves when we talk to Him. He tells us not to make too much of a fuss about it so that other people would notice, rather, He wanted us to talk to Him in earnest and in private.
““Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding. “When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—‘play actors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.
“And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat? “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.
“When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don’t make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won’t make you a saint. If you ‘go into training’ inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. God doesn’t require attention-getting devices. He won’t overlook what you are doing; he’ll reward you well.
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18 MSG