What a ridiculous clickbait title. New lows, Dan. New lows.
Part 1: Reality Can Be Like Getting Hit in the Face with a Cookie
Do you remember how old you were when you first realized that people sometimes talk about you behind your back? Well I don't think I've ever had that realization. Once in a while a whiff of this harsh reality breezes past my naive little nose. But my shock usually fades as the unpleasant truth slowly drifts off into denial-land, and everything is lovely again. I can go back to skipping through life and singing love songs with the birds as we all bake a pie together. Until the next time it happens, which was very recently for me. All of the sudden, reality struck again. The annoying thing about reality is that it's not always fun.
So two days ago, I found out that a group of folks said things about me behind my back. Now what they said wasn't too bad. Some of it was nice, I think. But the fact that my name came up at all was a shock. It was like getting hit in the face with a cookie. I mean yeah, there was the initial shock of getting hit. But I got hit with the delicious metaphorical scent of sugary goodness just as hard as the cookie itself. I think some of the metaphorical cookie crumbs rolled onto my metaphorical tongue and it was all metaphorically kind of nice.
Anyway, this is what they said:
"Dan dresses really weird, it's kinda awkward. But he owns it. It's all very Dan. Good for him, you know?"
Now these words were filtered through the foggy memory of a friend as he tried to recount the conversation. So don't go fact checking me, because he couldn't remember much. Or maybe he was leaving out the more painful details in order to show mercy to me and my adorable puppy dog eyes. People say I have adorable puppy dog eyes. Or they might say that. You know, behind my back.
Part 2: Opinions are Not a Threat
So I know that I have a unique sense of style. Maybe even weird. But for the most part, I've stopped caring what people think about it. Can I say that I've completely stopped caring what people think about me in every other area of life? No I cannot. But wouldn't it be cool if I could?
I just don't care that much what people think of my clothing choices anymore. I find clothes I like and then I wear them. It's a great system; I'd recommend it to anybody. Now I don't just blindly throw stuff on. I put some thought into it. But I don't put too much weight into the feedback I receive. People have their opinions about it and I have mine. I don't need their endorsement, and their opinions don't have to destroy my self-esteem. It's nice.
But I used to care a lot and it made me a very fragile person. I wouldn't wear this shirt or these crazy jeans because I was so afraid of what people would think. So I went neutral. Generic. Boring. Now it wasn't like I was miserable and my life was falling apart because I didn't get to wear what I wanted. Like I probably would have survived.
But all of this started to change one fateful day as I walked into a JCPenney. As usual, the men's section was filled with a bunch of photos featuring guys that were confident, sexy, and very happy with their JCPenney purchases. My eyes landed on one photo in particular. Out beside him were the words:
Confidence is the best clothing.
These words struck a chord in me. I started to get lost in thought. I mumbled the words under my breath a couple times. Then a couple more times. I thought about my past experiences with people who wore weird things proudly. They were totally aware of what they were wearing and totally aware of how strange I thought it was. But it didn't bother them. They didn't need validation from me. They liked their clothes; they wore them. They saw people's reactions; they still wore them. They were confident.
To them, opinions weren't a threat and criticism wasn't an enemy.
Part 3: Centuries Later, You're Finally Here
I started to realize that it doesn't matter what your style is, it's only going to work for you if you're confident. God was using JCPenney to begin healing some deep parts of me. Yeah, JCPenney. God can do that kind of thing because He's God. I was learning a lesson in confidence that would soon start to bleed over into other areas of my life. If an opinion is enough to shatter your confidence, you have a confidence problem.
Don't get me wrong, opinions aren't evil. They can be helpful; almost like social guardrails. They can make you aware of your blind spots and your weaknesses and push you towards growth. They can help to refine you as a person. But sometimes God needs you to ignore the guardrails, go off-road, and start paving a new path. And no matter what, opinions are not things to be feared.
God made me the way that I am on purpose. My interests, tastes, style, personality; He made me this way because He wants me this way. And He made you to be you. You are a much more comfortable fit for yourself than anyone else. But you have to find yourself in Him.
Because identity is given by God, self-discovery is only possible through God.
Throughout all the centuries of human history, God has been patiently and excitedly waiting for you to be born. Now that you're finally here, He has so much to show you about the universe, Himself, and yourself.
When we chase Him, we start to see it. He starts to instill a confidence in us that won't break under the weight of anyone's opinion. So chase Him. Don't worry if you don't immediately feel more confident, just keep chasing Him. Change happens over time. Over the years, you'll begin sense the kind of genuine confidence building in you that you always craved but could never grasp. You'll begin to realize all the ways in which God has been chasing you all along. You'll become so much more content to be you. And believe me, that's a much better way to live.
So that's what God's been showing me lately. Oh and by the way, JCPenney has some nice stuff sometimes. You should stop by and maybe have your own life-changing moment.
Pizza enthusiast but pineapple nonbeliever. Intellectually aspirational but emotionally unpredictable. Usually happy but sometimes sad.
Going after God.