Today, I want to take a bit of a departure from the recent trend of our discussion. Over the last few weeks, we’ve given a lot of attention to the concept of letting go, releasing idealism and expectations, and trying to live for the life that’s in front of you. But lest you think I’m advocating total passivity, today I want to talk about the parts of life that are worth chasing, and worth getting in trouble for.
It’s human nature that we tend to go along with the crowd. Over time, the social norms of the people around us tend to become our own, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Being part of a community is, simply put, comfortable. But there’s a balance for all things, and the imbalance to watch for here is that we start to believe or go along with things simply because of the group we’re in. It’s easy to see examples in history of people going along with questionable, or even horrible things because of social pressure, a fear of not fitting in, or of being persecuted in some cases. But those have the benefit of hindsight, and it’s quite another thing to experience it firsthand.
Take me, for instance. I grew up in an ultra-conservative church of Christ, where my father lived in constant fear that he might have a stray sinful thought and then die before he could repent, thus being sent straight to hell. That was my social norm, and you might think that something so awful and so easily contradicted by a quick look at scripture would be easy to drop—but that’s not usually how it goes. Not when you’ve lived that way all your life.
When I was going through my spiritual transformation and struggling to leave that legalism behind, I spent months waking up in the dark from night terrors. That’s just how deeply embedded those beliefs were, even though I didn’t consciously hold them anymore.
Here’s the thing: I’ve spent a lot of time lately, and no doubt will continue in the future, to say that a lot of the things we spend so much time worrying about aren’t nearly as important as they seem in the moment. But part of my point is that you should redirect that effort to the things that actually do. In particular, an earnest search for the truth and a genuine desire to live for love in the present moment will require you to give up some of your comfortable passivity.
What you might think of as “normality” is really nothing more than a hub of shared experiences. It serves a good purpose as a meeting ground, but to try and restrain yourself inside of it, or to try and stop it from changing over time, are both missing the point. Because in most cases, “normality” isn’t overly concerned with truth, or with our best possible lives, but only with decency and efficiency for most people in most cases.
Especially today, I think there is a strong tendency to value things like respect and politeness even above the real pursuit of truth and love. Probably, that is because both truth and love are at least occasionally radical… but if you won’t go out on a limb for love, then what will you do it for?
Have a blessed, wonderful day!
Dr. Alex Loyd