Whether it was from admonition or impression or both, I grew up believing that what the neighbors think is of vital importance.
What we grow up believing tends to stay with us long into adulthood whether it is truth or fiction. One of the side effects is that we may then add undue conflicting issues into the lives of our own children as they are growing up.
A real life example was the long-ago occasion when our nearly-college-age daughter decided on her own to bleach her hair. My first thoughts were, “What will the neighbors think?” My next thoughts turned into words directed her way, “You go right over to W.T.Grant and buy the hair color that most closely matches the natural color of your own hair and dye your own color back!” I have since apologized to my daughter.
Looking back, it sounds pretty silly but that was then and this is now and that does make some difference; however, the approach I took was still wrong. I should have considered the importance of the relationship between my daughter and me above “What will the neighbors think?”
I am sure “What will the neighbors think?” was based on more than the simplicity of that question. In my own case, I know it was. I believed (and still do) that as a Christian I was and am held to a higher standard in the world, that I am to set a Christ-like example. “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (I Thessalonians 5:22 KJV) At the time of the hair-coloring incident, the late 1970’s, most girls didn’t change the color of their hair as we see being done today…nothing like we see being done today…so it stood out more than it would now. I felt I was guiding my daughter on the right path to include modest dress, to set a better example for others including her non-Christian friends, etc., but my approach was wrong and didn’t go over very well. (That’s putting it mildly!) Today I would handle things in a far different manner (does hair color really matter in the long run?) for far different reasons (is it really important what the neighbors think?).
My growing-up belief descriptive terms for “what the neighbors think” would have included “putting up a good front” or “making up a show” but that is not how God would have us be. He wants real people representing His real love in this world. Here comes that 2 Corinthians 5:20 (NKJV) again: “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” What the neighbors think is important but not for the reasons I grew up believing.
© Marilyn Sue (Libby) Moore 7-7-09
2 months ago