Today I am kicking off a new series and participating in the October write for 31 day challenge put on by the Nester. For the next 31 days I will be asking and somewhat answering questions about “image.” This series was sparked by the church series that I started and have not finished yet. With the new changes at my church, it felt like we were redesigning our church image. Then I asked if we were purposefully trying to attract a certain type of person, but the answer was no. This series, though sparked by the questions of my own church, is not about my church.
I sat down at a coffee shop to brainstorm ideas and found myself surprised and excited by this topic. I was asking questions that were bothering me about church. As I reflected, I realized that I had just read a beautiful book by Madeleine L’Engle addressing similar questions. Why not try to address the modern problems we have with “image” that are plaguing me as I think about church?
As my church has undergone change, I’ve struggled with my identity, and I’ve found that I am not alone in that struggle. How much does branding define us or do we define our brand? My church was becoming younger and hipper and it felt like hipsters were dominating our culture. I have lots of hipsterish thoughts so I am not outside that subculture, but found myself mindlessly cutting my hair asymmetrically. I was having a sense of identity crisis because my church was (is?) experiencing a climate change. The focus of its identity felt as though it was shifting. I was not trying to be hipster in fashion or thought or even trying to fit in. On my own, I was struggling with my “self” as my church shifted.
Once I began addressing the questions, I stopped struggling with “self.” However, the questions remain: how much are we affected by the culture, even the church culture we are in? How much are we affected by the images we see on social media? How much do these things cause us to mindlessly build idols to create similar images? And how much of our comfort or discomfort is simply because of our own idolatry?
I ended up cutting my hair back to my usual pixie once I stopped struggling and felt re-grounded.
Recently, I wanted to spike it up into a fauxhawk-ish do because what else can one do with a pixie? It is not as though I can style it much differently, and that can get boring for me. It is not cut short enough for a real fauxhawk, but I played with it and thought it could be fun.
As I did this, I got some interesting feedback from my daughter, who is growing in identity and has image struggles of her own.
I styled my hair outside of her comfort zone, and she wanted to know if I was going to leave the house looking as I did. I said yes. She told me that moms are not supposed to look like I was looking – that they are supposed to look like people you can look up to. In her mind, moms don’t have tattoos or style their hair in fauxhauks (because she told me she equated the two). I am not a makeup-y type mom, but I suppose she expected me to be your typical soccer mom. Later that night she said that I should photograph myself, so I could one day look back and say, “What was I thinking?” We were laughing.
Well, she had a point, but not about my style that day. The asymmetric style I had early in the year? Yes – I have no idea what I was thinking other than my appearance reflected my internal struggle with change. I was looking for myself in the midst of what felt like church rebranding.
Are we not all looking for ourselves? Don’t we all want to know who we are? If we are created in the image of God and we are not to create false images, then image is far more important than we credit it for, and authenticity is a value. Will I get anywhere in 31 days? Can these weighty questions really be answered? I don’t know. But I do know, God is taking us on a journey to “I am.”
Like last year, I will write on the weekdays. On Saturdays, I will share a pinnable quote from an author or TV show, and on Sundays, I will share a pinnable bible verse. If you are new from the 31 day challenge, I’d love to have you join along. If you are an old friend, and don’t want to get 31 days worth of blog posts, feel free to unsubscribe and come back later. You can check out my tentative outline here. See you tomorrow.