I was standing at the sink, scrubbing the residue of Keto-Angel Food Cake from the bundt pan, when I faintly heard the sound of someone miffed across the room. It wasn’t serious, so I kept scrubbing.
And then I heard my 19 year old Angel Girl speak up. Her tone was patient and kind. “Ella, it’s okay for them to copy you. You’re a big sister. Get used to it.”
I paused and looked up, surprised by wisdom. Then I smiled at her. “Didn’t I used to say that to you?”
“Yes,” she chuckled, “and I hated it.”
Truth. You just can’t run away from it.
That first born baby learns so much from following mama around. I even had to teach her how to play… but then the next baby comes, and the next, and they watch how to learn and play from their older siblings, too.
When we moved to this town and this camp, I remember being overwhelmed by the idea that I was the Director’s wife and should be setting an example of a Godly women for other staff wives and campers. Whether I liked it or not, there were times I knew eyes were on me.
Some constituents of the camp were curious, or concerned, about who we were and what this new director would do with the camp. Churches we visited were interested in our growing family and homeschooling adventure. And you can’t forget the cute little girls who sang their way through every store… who can ignore that?
I remember being so self conscious. I was young and I was living through the most devastating season of my life, emotions raw, and patience thin. I was so afraid other people would realize how flawed I was, and that would somehow undermine my husband. I think my worry was magnified by having supported him through an internship that stressed that families were evaluated, and would impact the intern’s final assessment. Many times I wished I could hide.
And then one Ladies’ Retreat, after being here for a year, I noticed how the women were getting more comfortable around me. They shared things that concerned me. Women who were decades older than me were just as self conscious–more so, and I thought to myself, “I thought that by that age women had it together!” Apparently not, and that was what concerned me. I wanted to have it together (if that’s possible). I didn’t want to be in the same place thirty, or forty, or even fifty years down the road. I wanted to be, well, mature–emotionally and spiritually.
I bought a new Life Application Study Bible and began again at Genesis, reading every single study note. I read books by Godly authors and blogs that modeled what I had never seen put into practice.
I prayed for a mentor, and God sent me my friend, Sherrill. She took me through a book called Search for Significance. It was only 13 chapters, but it was a very hard 13 chapters! It took me a whole year because when God sets about changing a heart, it’s a process, and he is thorough. I wrestled and cried through it, as God pried the lies that had shaped my character out of my sweaty hands and replaced them with the Truth of what HE said about me and this relationship I have with the King of the Universe.
Whenever I thought we were done, He would open a new chapter of refinement that continues, even to this day. Looking back, I notice how my gaze shifted away from the gawkers and onto HIM.
I stopped worrying what other people thought about me, and I developed concern for what other people think about HIM.
The Apostle Paul said this, in 1 Corinthians 4:16, “I urge you, then, be imitators of me.”
Paul is teaching the church in Corinthians what their conduct should look like, and then he tells them to imitate him, as children imitate their father. Not only that, but he says it in Ephesians 5, and again in 1 Corinthians 11:1, modeling for us how to deal with being under the magnifying glass…
“Copy me, my brothers, as I copy Christ himself.”
There are always going to be eyes on us. Jesus said others will know we are his disciples by our behavior. Instead of viewing it as a burden, lets embrace the responsibility for what it is: an opportunity to reflect Christ to the world.
Whether at home or without, people learn by watching and by doing. There is always going to be someone less spiritually mature than you are. There is always going to be someone more spiritually mature than you are, as well.
Ask someone who is in the “more mature” camp to mentor you, and be blessed by their example.
Imitate Christ, and keep your eyes trained on Him instead of your audience, but take joy in every opportunity to help a less mature brother or sister grow up in Jesus. Remember that there will be countless times you will not even know that, in letting the Holy Spirit work in you and through you, you touch a life in a powerful way, simply because someone is watching you.
Let them imitate you.