Every culture has certain rules which apply to every person within the culture. When I say rules, I am referring in this post to rules of thumbs. This is a principle with broad application for many people. Some cultural rules are spoken, while some silently understood. Every person within their culture has a choice. They can either keep all the rules of the culture and live like everyone else, or break the rules. Since most people keep the rules of their existing culture, and simply continue it on, let’s take a look at breaking the rules of culture today. What are the rules? What would it look like to break the rules?
American Cultural Rules
In my opinion, here are four American Cultural Rules. Do you agree?
1. My happiness is the center of my life, and my happiness should be the center of your life too.
2. We are good until you do me wrong. Then we are done.
3. I am not wrong. Ever.
4. I need to show everyone I’m a big deal.
Breaking The Rules
If you don’t break the rules, you will do what everyone else does. Now, if the rules from one to five are how you want to live your life, then do what everyone else does. But if you want something different, then then do something different. If you follow these five cultural rules, you will likely end up self-absorbed and lonely. Nobody sets out to end up like that, but these cultural rules lead to being self-absorbed and lonely. I suggest we break the rules, and do something different.
Grab a Sledgehammer
Since these are cultural rules, they aren’t easy to break. You’ll need a sledgehammer that breaks them again and again and again. Cause they’ll sneak back into your life without you thinking about it. The rules are all around us, and these can sneak into every area of our lives. Let’s go through the rules again. In italics is the sledgehammer.
1. My happiness is the center of my life, and my happiness should be the center of your life too. I am created by God, and the cross of Jesus Christ says I am eternally significant to Jesus. Because God thinks I’m important, I don’t have to prove to you that I am. My life isn’t the center of all of life. God is the center of life. He is life. Yes, I enjoy being happy. However, my happiness is not the key to a great life. Love is.
2. We are good until you do me wrong. Then we are done. I’m done with expecting you to be perfect. I’m not perfect, why would I expect you to be perfect in your treatment of me. When you hurt me, I choose to forgive you. I also choose to address this with you, because I want to have a relationship that goes into the pain, not one that runs from it. I will do my best to treat you with love, even when you hurt me. Jesus has grace for me. With the many ways I’ve caused harm to Jesus through my sin, I need you to know that I am here because He forgave me. I can forgive you too, because forgiveness is a choice.
3. I am not wrong. Ever. I might be wrong on a lot of things. I hold deep convictions, and these help me live a centered life with passion and love, but I have an open mind. I want to learn from you. I’m not too insecure to learn from you. As a matter of fact, I want to learn from you. I probably won’t ever sit down and say, “Teach me,” because that would be awkward…but I have a heart full of questions, and a mind that craves understanding.
4. I need to show everyone I’m a big deal. I know that the world has been around for a long time. Billions of people have walked the face of this earth. I am not a big deal. I don’t have to build my own empire, keep up with the Joneses, or be the coolest person in the room. God’s love for me is a big deal, but I’m not a big deal. I’m here to show people God is a big deal.
These Cultural Rules have to be broken, or they will define us. If they don’t define us though, what would be possible? Most people I talk to want to do something significant in their life. However, they find their momentary happiness to be more important than doing something significant, so they don’t make the sacrifice to go after their dreams.
A lot of people get locked into a room of bitterness, and small minded thinking. They are constantly defensive, because they are afraid of getting hurt. Max Lucado said, “Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realizing you were the prisoner!” Bitterness will destroy your dreams.
An arrogant spirit will keep you from finding great truth in other people. How teachable are you? That is how far you will go in life. Your level of teachability is key to what you will accomplish.
One thing that destroys possibilities is having to be a big deal. For instance, God might call you to go do a great work where no one will know your name, but you don’t want to do it because your name wouldn’t be attached in the process. God might call you to step out in faith and give financially to His kingdom like never before, but you want people to see what you got. God might call you on adventures with Him, if you let go of making much of yourself in this life.
Break the rules. The Cultural Rules won’t make a great life. They create a hollow and lonely life. Giving of yourself, forgiving, sacrificing, and stepping into the most difficult of circumstances causes some of the greatest pain, but also the greatest growth. Break the rules. Why wouldn’t you?