Worldly- grandma said it, what does it mean to me now?
I grew up in a Mennonite home; it was largely influenced, on both sides, by the WOMEN of the house. My grandmothers held a tremendous power and were indeed the teachers, healers and leaders.
One of the lessons that I REALLY didn’t get until recently was the word “worldly”. My grandmothers would tell me not to be OF this world, we are just IN IT, and they would tell me not to be worldly… I NEVER understood what that meant. I thought it meant that my skirts should be knee length, that I should stay modest and pure, that I should not indulge in “worldly” behavior- defined by drinking, drugs and carousing.
In the past few months I have realized how “worldly” I am or have become. My skirt length has not changed, I have not behaved impurely or done anything that would be particularly uncharacteristic. I, however, have expected my answers to my problems to be OF and IN this world.
We all do it; we buy the fashion that our friends like, we order a certain drink, sit a certain way, go to a certain hot spot, watch a certain sport, get the latest hair cut/ color etc etc. We can lose ourselves and become “worldly”.
A certain amount of this keeps us socially acceptable – we brush our teeth and shower, we, hopefully, speak nicely and present ourselves in an “acceptable” way – our emotional limbic, mammalian brain craves SAMENESS!!! We mimic and hear tone, and we’re always creating SAMENESS, CONNECTION.
So then what happens when you look around wanting to create SAMENESS so badly that you forget that you are fearfully and wonderfully and UNIQUELY made? When YOU believe that you have to be someone else or do something in order to share or create connection?
I believe we become WORLDLY, and we shame ourselves for not achieving SAMENESS.
The greatest example of this for me would be ANY high school where there is an abundance of limbic brain activity; the frontal cortex has not even been given a full chance yet. You HAVE to have the Levi jeans to fit in, the Bum sweatshirt and the Chili Peppers t- shirts, the bathing suit with the front zipper from OP (OK, I may have dated myself, and I may still be processing high school experiences) But, high school is truly the best example of the limbic brain in action – the deepest desire of your heart to create SAMENESS! – and you shame yourself for not achieving SAMENESS. For not belonging.
I have recently been reminded that I am fearfully, wonderfully and UNIQUELY made. My good friend has developed a devotional series based on the fact that we are the temple of God resides in. this resonated with me. While we want to be special and unique, we also want to fit in and belong. In our effort to create sameness we become worldly, trying to belong, so here is a fun fact. Brene Brown, in her shame research, quoted from the gifts of imperfection “one of the biggest surprises in this research was learning that the fitting in and belonging are not the same thing, and in fact, fitting in gets in the way of belonging. Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to CHANGE who we are: it requires us to BE who we are.”
I once thought I had to change who I was in order to belong; I changed the verbs I used for God. To fit in, I changed the workout apparel line I was loyal to, the gym I went to, my eating habits, the color of my nails, the coffee chain I am loyal to etc., based on what I thought people wanted me to be, when in fact they just wanted me to be myself. And further to that, I created division being inauthentic to my core self.
So Grandma & Granny, I finally get it. We are not of this world, only in it. Not worldly, but uniquely made. AND just the way we are, we belong.
Just my thoughts from here <3 J