JamieTheVWM and I went out to do a little shopping and of course a Pinkberry jumped in front of us.
We had to go in, right?
I mean how rude would it have been to walk past that wonderland of frozen delights without popping in? And you can’t just go in without buying something, soo…
Anyway, as I’m asking for my sample of Key Lime Yogurt, which by the way was beautifully tart and refreshing, the girl behind the counter asks:
“Hey, do you go to that church down the street?”
I would like to think she recognized me because I am so popular and everyone in town either knows me or wants to know me. Maybe it’s because I am extremely witty and charming as I read the announcements up on stage at that church. Or perhaps its my remarkably dashing good looks and incredible bone structure.
But we all know its just cuz I gots me this gigantic beard.
I’m not lamenting the beard or claiming some sort of foliculal discrimination. I’m just saying it’s the beard, well the beard and my freakish height, that has branded me.
I figured this out down in Costa Rica. I let my beard go for close to a year than one day I just shaved it off. The whole thing! Like with a bic and everything.
Immediately I was struck with how white my face had become without even a hint of sun for months. Then I was shocked by how small my head had become during my hobo chic era. But it wasn't until I saw my friends that I realized how important my beard was.
There were people that had never seen me without this fuzzy creature on my face and when it was gone, they didn't recognize me, like for reals didn't recognize me. I had some awkward conversations convincing people that I indeed was their beloved Steve. For the most part I just had to deal with some strange looks and some friendly joshing about how teeny-tiny my head looked on top of this massive human frame, but some of my friends were kinda pissed. Someone even vowed to not speak to me until my beard grew back.
Because I was no longer the person she knew and loved.
Somewhere down the line the beard had become part of me. Not just physically, but it had become part of my character. It had integrated with my persona. I had been branded. I was no longer Steve, El Chupacabra. I was that bearded guy. The “Viking”.
Before I move on I just want to clarify that in no way am I claiming to be more like Jesus because I have this beard and NO I am not saying that I am more spiritual cuz I get recognized as “that guy from church”, but I will say that Jesus, like yours truly, was clearly branded.
I mean, think about it! He couldn't go anywhere without people wanting healing or seeking the key to everlasting life. Before Facebook, tweeting, Instagram, and even MySpace were, people knew who Jesus was.
Now I am not going to tell you to run out and slap a fish sticker on your car. Nor do we all need to tattoo our favorite versus of scripture on our arms. And I am definitely not saying that we need to don t-shirts emblazoned with witty spoofs of classic American ads asking everyone we meet face-to-face if they:
What I am saying is that we, as followers of Jesus, need to put ourselves out there and live in a way that the world knows us.
We need to love our neighbors. We need to care for the least of these. And we need to be recognized. And not in a look-at-me-I'm-such-a-great-Christian-so-watch-me-as-I-help-the-poor type recognition, but in an I'm-relevant-and-I-truly-care-about-YOU way.
Our modern society breeds anonymity and separation. So we, followers of Jesus, need to fight the temptation of speeding through our neighborhoods, sneaking in to our garages by means of that magical clicker, and barricading ourselves and our families inside the safety of our homes free from unwanted worldly influences.
The more we isolate ourselves from the world the less relevant we become and lets be honest,
irrelevance does NOT equal light!
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying being branded is easy.
Sure its great when JamieTheVWM and I are getting along and the kids are in a good mood and I’m all caught up at the office and there are no emergencies and I’m happy and I feel like talking.
When I just got done boxing with the missus and the kids haven’t done their homework for a month and I have 347 emails in my inbox and I’m tired and I’m cranky and I just want everyone to leave me alone, well, it sucks!
But that's ok because the world isn't asking us to be perfect, they are just asking us to engage!
el chupacabra writes