Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sheep with a Different Beat

Strange post title, eh?

Yeah, that's kind of the point :-)

I've always been a little different than everyone else. Mostly I'm okay with that, even quite pleased with being a little odd. But at other times, it gets kinda lonely having a different take on things. It's nice to know that your close friends and relatives don't think you're completely off your rocker! Mostly I've learned to accomplish that goal by watching carefully others' reactions during a conversation - even a fool seems wise when her mouth is shut, and I'm getting better at keeping shut!

There are a lot of things that I don't just follow along with "what everybody else is doing" on. Most of these have come out in the last 3 years, since becoming a mother. Just a few examples: cloth diapering, breastfeeding (and allowing the child to self-wean), the food I choose to feed my family (more about that in future posts, still developing thoughts about that one), immunization schedules, what we tell our kids about Santa Claus, the way I choose to trim my horses hooves . . . the list could go on and on. Really, it could. I've got good reasons for why I've chosen all the things I've listed, and I'm very very happy for it and feel in each I've made the best choice for me, even though many will look at me funny when they discover the difference.

I've even questioned myself whether I choose to be different just so I can "be different." I've decided this is not the case, because being different than those around you really isn't very easy. It's uncomfortable at times, and sometimes trying to find information about each thing is tricky because usually I don't know anyone doing it the same way! So it often feels like I'm pioneering a new path all alone, which while this can be exciting and certainly a learning experience, it's truly not preferred.

But it really bugs me when I see others I care about just do things "the way they've always done them" just for the simple reason of "that's the way I've always done that" or "that's the way so and so always did that and they were just fine." Firstly, what does "just fine" really mean? Personally, I'd like to give myself a shot of having better than just fine. I also feel that recently (like in the last 3 generations) technology in all realms has changed nearly all facets of life at such a fast pace that life today is drastically different than life 3 generations ago, and I'm not convinced that all of the changes have been for the better. Of course, many of them (electricity, indoor plumbing, refrigeration, and so on) have been very very good and I don't want to be without some of the modern conveniences - but some other lifestyle changes I question, and really wish more people would.

I've read the word 'Sheeple' and I think this accurately describes the mindset many have. You may have heard about sheep, and the fact that they aren't particularly bright, and that they'll typically just follow the tail of the sheep ahead of them, completely blind to where they are going. I think of 'sheeple' people as sheep wandering after each other lost, sheep without a shepherd. I don't want to be like that. I'm happy to follow the sheep in front of me, but only after I've stopped to have a look around and try to see if that sheep is traveling in the right direction. Mostly, I've been blessed by being surrounded by some very wise sheep, so I'm glad to follow in their footsteps, but even so I try to take a step back and think for myself before just blindly following along. And I always try to remember that Jesus is the Good Shepherd - the shepherd's job is to protect the sheep from attackers that would do them harm, and to guide the sheep to still waters and green pastures. What a blessing, that Jesus would gently guide us in the right paths.

I'm glad to be a sheep with a different beat. Even if I do sometimes feel like I'm the only one I know who "_______" (insert weird thing here), I'm not alone - I've still got my Good Shepherd, gently guiding me.

I just pray for the wisdom to know the difference between being different for the sake of being different, and choosing the good path despite the fact that it's a little different.

*Oh, you're still reading?? I guess I could share bits of why I've chosen some of the things I highlighted.

cloth diapering - less diapers in the landfill, it's really not that difficult to wash them, I save a TON of money, fewer chemicals touching my babies' skin

breastfeeding (and allowing the child to self-wean) - I don't have to wash bottles, I know my child is getting the exact right nutrition at the exact right temperature, I love to cuddle up with my usually squirmy, not-so-cuddly active toddler and nursing offers a great opportunity for that, and I know that my baby will not nurse forever - they'll get ready when they're ready, and they don't even get all their teeth until they're much older than most people wean - so to me that means their nutrition would be lacking if I weaned them earlier. Besides, it helps me lose weight!

the food I choose to feed my family (more about that in future posts, still developing thoughts about that one) - we're going to do a "challenge" in February where we are very careful about what we put in our cups and on our plates. Not 100% sure what the "rules" will be yet, but I expect to see a big difference in energy levels and waistlines.

immunization schedules - I cannot believe how much the CDC recommends to inject into tiny, weeks or months old babies! Our kids still get all of the recommended vaccinations, but spread out over a greater timeframe.

what we tell our kids about Santa Claus - Santa is not real! It's a nice, pretend story - but Jesus is what Christmas is all about. And really - the story of a virgin giving birth to a God's only Son, in a barn, with Shepherds being told by angels, and the wise men coming because they saw a start - the true story of Christmas is miraculous enough, it doesn't need a fat man in a red suit to pass out presents too!

the way I choose to trim my horses hooves - I choose not to put shoes on my horse, and I try to trim so that her feet mimic what they'd look like if she were a wild mustang. This is healthier and more comfortable for the horse, and less expensive for me!

Oh, and I need to say this! Just because I'm doing things the way I do them, does NOT mean that I think you are wrong because you do things your way!! Your way may be perfectly right for you, please don't take me doing things my way as judgement about your way. I only ask that you make sure that you're doing things the way your doing them as a conscious choice you've made, not just because that's the way it's always been done.