Our friends and peers (others our age) can have a huge influence on our decisions. So often, many of our choices are based on what our friends or peers will think about us because we want to be accepted by them. We avoid doing things that might make us seem unusual or weird to them. Are we wearing the right clothes, listening to the right music, hanging out with the right people? The answers to these questions are heavily influenced by what our friends and peers will say and think of us. However, sometimes the cost of pleasing our friends comes at a very high price.
You may have found yourself doing the following things to be accepted and not seem unusual: you may have stopped yourself from befriending someone who’s not cool, because your friends would think you’re weird. You may have starved yourself or are bulimic in order to have the right body image and to be accepted. You may have stopped hanging out with a life-long friend because your new group of friends doesn’t embrace them. You may do drugs or get drunk because it’s the only way to be part of you crew and get attention. You may have changed your personality and your interests and hobbies to fit in with the “in” crowd. You may have been silent about your faith in God because of being ridiculed. You may have laughed at someone because they have no fashion sense. These are just a few examples of the things you may have done so you could be accepted by your friends and not seem unusual or weird to them.
The above actions may make our friends happy, but they hurt God. Why? Because God knows that when we do these things, we will not like the person we’ve become. God knows that we won’t feel good about what we’ve done, and we’ll begin to feel empty inside. God doesn’t want you to feel like this. To have the feelings God wants you to have, you need to do those things that you were created by God to do—love God and others. Only then will you truly feel good about yourself and your actions. You also have to be okay with potentially being considered weird or unusual by your “friends” and peers.
Believe it or not, the message of Christmas can give us comfort and encouragement to deal with our friends and peers. Christmas is all about God doing something that was considered highly unusual, weird and offensive to many people—He became a human being. This was unusual because God, who created EVERYTHING, who is all powerful, and immortal, freely chose to become mortal, and to experience pain, suffering, love, and everything else humans experience. Jesus’ opponents could not and would not believe that God would do something so unusual and weird. It was not just God becoming a human that was unusual to people, but the things Jesus did while He was on earth, like hanging out with people who weren’t part of the “in” crowd, that caused his opponents to get upset with Him.
Our God didn’t let what others thought of Him stop Him from doing what He needed to do, even though it meant that some of His own people would consider Jesus unusual and weird. We too, should not be influenced by our friends just because they might consider us unusual or weird. Don’t be afraid to befriend the person who is not popular; don’t hurt yourself to have a certain body image; return to the personality and interests you had before you changed it to fit in (as long as your personality and interests are pleasing to God☺). Apologize to the person you ridiculed. If someone asks you why you don’t sleep with your boyfriend or girlfriend, tell them that your Church wants you to have that special moment with the one who is willing to spend the rest of their life with you. You may be considered weird or unusual for doing these things, but you’ll feel good about yourself because you’re doing those things that God designed you to do.
Keep in mind that when you do those things that are pleasing to God but unusual to your friends, either your friends will learn to accept your decisions or they will not. There’s a possibility that they may not want to be your friends anymore. If that’s the case, then that would be really sad, but, I assure you, there are people your age who will embrace your God-pleasing decisions.
May the message of Christmas give you the strength and comfort to do those things that might seem unusual to your friends and peers but perfectly normal to God!