I know what it feels like.
I know what it feels like to be one of the only people not doing that thing that everyone else (like, literally EVERYONE else) is doing. I know what it feels like to look around at the people at school or on your soccer team or in your dorm and feel just a little out of place. Out of place because the things that everyone calls “normal,” the things they think aren’t a big deal, are actually a pretty big deal to you.
I know what it feels like to go against the culture that surrounds you, the culture that says drugs, drinking, impurity and so many other things are just part of being a normal teenager (or 20-something) in 2017, and if you don’t do them, you’re weird or boring or both. Living in a world that constantly says it’s cool to love things and use one another can really wear down our determination and desire to live the life we know we’re called to.
Believe me, I know it can be seriously tiring to be different. It can get pretty exhausting trying to not give in for the sake of fitting in. Remembering what’s right and wrong, what’s good and what’s not, what’s true and what’s false can get really confusing really fast when you see so many people doing the wrong thing but promising you it’s actually good (or at the least, it’s not that bad). And when people keep telling you the same lies over and over again, it’s easy to end up believing them.
So yeah, I also completely understand what it feels like to wonder, “What if I just didn’t care as much? What would happen if I just gave in? Maybe it wouldn’t be that bad.”
But back in high school and college, when those thoughts entered my mind, I made sure they didn’t stay there for long. I kept pressing forward on the path I knew God wanted me to walk. No, it wasn’t always fun or easy, there were definitely a few stumbles along the way, and it was almost never the popular or mainstream thing to do. But, guys, it was SO worth it.
That’s why I want to tell you this today: Don’t give in. Don’t give up. Don’t change yourself or the way you live to fit the mold of what everyone else around you is doing, no matter how tempting it may be. No, it’s not “cool” to entertain ourselves with things that hurt us and hurt others, both physically and spiritually, no matter how many misguided friends tell us otherwise. Sure, you can try to satisfy yourself with all of those things, but I promise you, everybody that tries ends up feeling emptier than before. You can let yourself believe that you’re young and you just want to have fun, but you know the truth deep in your heart. Everybody does. Some just ignore it better than others. Don’t ignore it.
I also want to remind you of this: You’re not alone. There are so many others who are fighting against the pressure they feel to give in and fit in, too. But you know what? You weren’t created to fit in. You were created to live a life worthy of the calling God’s given you, and living out that call requires you to be different. So go ahead, be different. Be confident in yourself, be bold in your convictions, and don’t apologize for not following the crowd. Did you ever notice that it’s not the crowd-followers who make a difference in the world? No. It’s the people who are brave enough to do the right thing, follow the path less traveled, and be the person God created them to be who leave their mark.
Be that person.