Steve and I know all kinds of people - suburbanites, farmers, city folk, sho-nuff rednecks, lawyers, doctors, factory workers, preachers, teachers, students, artists, conservatives, liberals, Christians, agnostics, blacks, whites,... - and we count ourselves blessed to have such a diversity of friends. Neither of us have considered that there is perhaps some ideal "type", some societal epitome to which we or others should aspire.
Not so our neighbor. He wears a cowboy hat and boots, drives a pickup truck, and considers himself a "farm boy". He clearly takes it as an insult if you think of him as anything else. I wonder if Julia Child or Martin Luther King, Jr., or J.R.R. Tolkien ever realized how far short they fell in life by failing to attain the elevated status of "farm boy"!
Personally, I'm some kind of a weird farm girl-suburbanite-poet-mathematician amalgam. I love living out in the country, but confess I wish we had a YMCA with an indoor pool and fitness center nearby. It's great that we can grow our own delicious vegetables and kill our own meat, but I'm sometimes aggravated that I can't get egg-roll wrappers at our tiny local grocery and I'm scared of firearms. I think that animals are animals - they are not people. But, I think it's a delicious possibility that the trees dance when we aren't looking!
I have a beautiful friend who is a pure, undiluted farm girl. She can pop the head off a chicken, pluck and dress it, and cook it up for supper without hesitation or regret. She can load and fire a rifle and hit what she's aiming at. She can split wood and knows how to cook dinner over a fire. She can dress up in heels and pearls for Sunday services, then tell you about the snake she killed in the garden that morning. She is what she is - beautifully, graciously, unapologetically, without pretention.
I suppose the hardest thing for any of us to be, sometimes, is just what we are. My neighbor wants to be a farm boy - but isn't inclined to get himself or his truck dirty, and guns and dogs make him nervous. I would like to think I'm at least a little "sophisticated" - but sometimes I get a hankering for a bologna-and-cheese sandwich, and formal parties make me uncomfortable. I've seen teenagers trying to look gangsta' or goth, and almost pulling it off - only to be betrayed by a camouflage jacket or southern drawl. Like my neighbor or a sulky teen, I flush and stiffen when I am exposed, becoming instantly defensive.
It is a tremendous comfort to know that God knows who I really am - not just who I wish I could be or who I want others to think that I am. He sees past any image or persona I project (to deceive myself or others) and loves the strange, confused person inside. He knows my heart and my petty defensiveness, and He pursues me anyway. And, He patiently continues to transform me into someone truly beautiful, someone conformed to the image of His Son. Oh, to be a pure Christ-bearer, free of pollution and shame and defensiveness! To say, with complete integrity, not "I am a country girl," but "I am a Christ girl!"
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.