So tell me: am I weird?

When Andy and I were at university together, one of the books that had the greatest impact on our lives was ‘Letters for Auntie Flo’ by Graham Young. It was all about living life in a counter cultural, radical way. Read it aloud with a Northern accent. Anti Flow. Swimming against the tide. In fact, that was the cover image – one lone fish swimming in the opposite direction to all the others.  We burned with a vision to live that way. Andy was the revolutionary; I was more conservative. But together, we looked to a future of living out our Christian faith in practical, radical ways. Looking back, yes, we were young and idealistic and no, we haven’t been all that we had aspired to be. But many times, it has felt as if we have been swimming against the tide. People have noticed. People have thought we are crazy. People have treated us as different, weird, occasionally inspiring.

Here’s a list of some of the weird stuff:-

  • Andy’s been a vegetarian since long before being a vegetarian was trendy
  • He’s been teetotal the whole time I’ve known him
  • He preached his first sermon at the age of 15.
  • He left his job as a successful computer journalist in London to move to the North east to work for Traidcraft
  • we went into fostering and then adopted three children, taking us to a total of five children!
  • we bought a minibus instead of a family car – I can still remember one of the mums at my son’s football laughing aloud every time she saw us in our Mystery Machine
  • we’ve made ethical consumer choices, buying organic, fair trade and eco friendly products
  • we’ve opened our home on Sundays and at Christmas to individuals who need hospitality
  • we returned to a church we had left eighteen months before and tried to seek reconciliation
  • I finally found the courage to write a novel – two in fact!
  • we’ve been happy to accept other people’s cast offs – clothes, sofas (any furniture in fact), leftover food..
  • three years ago, I took a job at Asda – and loved it!
  • last year, I gave up buying clothes for myself for a whole year
  • I’m not afraid to try new things and take on new challenges – most recently running, yoga and dance
  • we undertook this project to work through and write about the whole Bible in five and a half years

Yes, so not all that radical and earth-shattering, I know, but enough to make us seem different and draw comment and feel like freaks at times. Anyone who tries to be different is going to feel isolated at times. And sometimes other people don’t like it. It questions their lifestyle and causes them to be defensive. And so they mock or construct an argument or question or make excuses. The way you live makes them feel uncomfortable. And that makes things uncomfortable all round.

The prophets in the Bible had an uncomfortable time of it. They were rejected, scorned, physically persecuted at times. They were shouting aloud what no one wanted to hear. Just as anyone throughout history who has tried to speak out against the status quo has suffered. Those who spoke out about slavery and racism, women’s rights, climate change, the poor – all sorts of issues that challenge the way people live and think. And they don’t like it. They try to silence these voices in any way possible.

God sees and understands.

Because your sins are so many
and your hostility so great,
the prophet is considered a fool,
the inspired person a maniac.  Hosea 9:7

When I read that verse, it prompted me to think back over our lives. Not that I am setting myself up as a prophet or an inspired person. I’m really not. But I have been considered a fool and a maniac for some of the decisions and choices I’ve made. People have said I’m not a comfortable person to be around. Too challenging. My Dad was always advising me to keep my head below the parapet. I was never any good at listening to that advice. And so yes, I have been shot at (and my Dad would sigh and say he told me so).

Yes, maybe sometimes I am just a freak. I’m pretty sure I’ve got it wrong, spectacularly wrong on occasions. But maybe occasionally I am inspired by God to walk the path I’m walking. This verse stood out to me, because in it God is saying He is calling us to be weird and feel like aliens and be called freaks, because His way is not the way of the world. He’s calling us to be different, not for the sake of being different, but because He doesn’t want us to be conformed to the ways of this world but rather to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).

So go ahead. Call me weird. I’m OK with that.

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3 Responses

  1. Graham Young says:

    And here is Graham Young now following your writing.

  2. Helen Redfern says:

    Wow! I feel honoured! I have a feeling that book changed our lives and then Andy had the privilege of working closely with you at Traidcraft. Weird how life turns out and how God is at work in all things!

  3. Eve Broadis says:

    Grest article Helen – resonates with me too! Started life as Traidcraft rep in the 80’s.
    Last time I spoke to you Graham was on Iona in the 90’s.
    Heard Paul Valley on the radio yesterday and it took me back to that week – how amazing to now see I am following after you!

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