I was sitting with a group of girls the other day talking about going against the grain, acting in the opposite spirit. To most of them, it was a totally foreign concept. To hear that they had another option other than exploding when someone verbally attacked them was a brand new thought for the majority.
The sad reality of the world we live in is that this group are the norm, not the exception.
Which makes me wonder - even when we are part of the small group of people who are aware of this option, how often do we actually stop and think, evaluate our situation, before we respond to a negative comment or conversation? I mean, it's one thing to say that yes, it's a wise and mature thing to think-before-we-speak, but it's totally another thing to put it into action in our everyday lives. But then, it's not uncommon to say one thing yet believe another...
For example, I firmly believe that a healthy body image starts with being secure in the truth that I am God's masterpiece, a work of beauty created in love by the King, and that truth cannot be altered by any pimple or extra kilo. But yet, I still desire to hide my face from the world whenever I get a breakout, and feel guilty each time I eat a block of chocolate in a day and don't work out for a week. When I allow my doubts and insecurities about my weight, appearance and image to dictate my self-worth, rather than God's Word, I am really saying that I don't in fact believe what I say I do. Because I show my beliefs by my actions, not by my words. So while a cheat day of chocolate eating should encourage me back to my exercise regime, it should not waver my belief in my own true value as a beautiful woman of God, if I have cemented it as a deep-seated truth in my heart.
There are many examples in the world of when it is a destructive habit to act in the opposite spirit, not the least is the above story of holding an honourable principle as a personal belief when in fact it is only a lofty ideal to be boasted in at youth group. But there are also occurences, although not so commonly displayed (unfortunately), of when it is not only beneficial to ourselves but also inspiring to those around us to act contrary to the low standards of the world's expectations.
I remember reading about a high school senior in America who had become the most popular and respected person in her school, not because she wore the most fashionable outfits or dated the cutest boy in the football team, but because she became known as someone who was a friend to everyone, regardless of their clique, group or social standing. And not just a hi-in-the-hallway kind of friend, but a help-you-study, lend-you-a-top, shout-you-for-the-movies kind of friend. With such a positive example to her peers of the power of acting in the opposite spirit, I'm sure that she encouraged others around her to change their mindset of "normal" friendships. Possibly for the first time ever, the students in that school were shown an alternative to their regular I'm-not-talking-to-you-this-week, you're-either-friends-with-me-or-her, did-you-hear-what-he-said-about-you way of relating to each other. She wasn't just another high talking but low acting teenager; rather, she built a reputation for herself of a different opposite - the opposite of deciding not to act the same as everyone else, and lifting her own personal standards above the expectations of the acceptable.
We can stand up in this - dare I say it - revolutionary way, by taking stock of our own lives and choosing our beliefs on purpose, not just accepting convictions by default because it's what everyone else says they believe. When we take the time to look inwardly and recognise what we hold as valuable and important to us as individuals, we can then start to choose to act as we see fit, as we believe young, strong, independent, godly people should act.
While it may be the common practice of the day to believe in something yet act out of an opposing belief, let's not lower ourselves to the popular standard by following the same. Let's choose the positive opposite - of actually acting in a way that aligns with our beliefs; of standing up for righteousness, even when it isn't easy or comfortable; of being known as young men and women who do what they say; of choosing to respond rather than react when provoked to anger; of going against the grain when necessary and acting in the opposite spirit.
Because when all is said and done, I want my repuatation to be one of wisdom, truth and integrity, even if that is opposed to the popular view of the day - how about you?