My beard may be too big for you, but it fits my face
I bristled a bit as I read a comment someone made to a writer friend of mine. The person wrote: “Your beard is too big, and I can’t take anything you do seriously until you shave it.”
His response was, “I shouldn’t be taken too seriously.”
Let me interpret this “suggestion” from a so-called fan. “There is something about you I find not in my ideal picture of you. Therefore, you must change to meet my expectations. Do it now, or I will cease trying to be a fan of yours.”
My friend’s response was a much kinder way to tell the person to go be a fan of some facial follicle-challenged writer.
It’s the same kind of comment that is made to pastors every Sunday. Your sermons are too short/too long. You should use less/more humor. It’s too cold/hot in the sanctuary. I wish you’d preach more from the Old/New Testament.
I could go on with lots of other examples, but I won’t.
The comments from people don’t really mean that the pastor hasn’t preached what God told him to preach or that a certain writer’s facial hair really is out of control.
What these comments usually boil down to is the fact that the actualities of life have not met the expectations of the commenter.
Change to meet my expectations. Change to be what I want. Change to please me.
It’s the same type of attitude that drives people to demand items or services for free because they feel entitled to them, or that drives a wedge between partners in a relationship.
You must change to please me.
We all buy into this self-serving attitude at times. Some people just choose to live there.
Every one of us should be concerned with self, to an extent. We should take care of our health — physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually — and not seek to do ourselves any harm.
But no one should fall into the delusion that the world or universe revolves around them as the central star. The sad truth is that so few people who live this way can see their behavior for what it is.
I wonder what would happen if I did one or more of the following:
• Write an email to Ozzy Osbourne telling him I will no longer be a fan of his music or that of Black Sabbath unless he changes genres to perform bluegrass music.
• Write to John Grisham’s manager and say I won’t read anything else by this Mississippi author until he stops writing about lawyers and sports and translates into “Southern English” the German classic “Die Blechtrommel (The Tin Drum)” by Günter Grass.
• Protest outside Taco Bell until they change the full menu to Kosher vegan.
I’m not sure how the fast food restaurant’s owners would react, but Grisham would probably ignore me and Osbourne would mumble something best not understood.
If I wanted Kosher vegan food (and no, I don’t) I should pick a place that actually serves it. If I want to read a German novel I should learn the language or find an English translation. If I want to hear bluegrass, Ozzy isn’t the performer to choose. If I don’t like beards on my writers, then I should pick new writers to read.
It’s not hard to do any of these things.
We’re too easily offended and too self-centered to simply allow others to be themselves. Change the channel. Read something else. Eat somewhere else.
Be joyful. Consider others.
As a Christian, I say center your life around Jesus and you won’t regret it. If people need to be changed, let him do it. It’s not your job to change me nor mine to change you.
But I can love you, so I choose to. Now my friend and I are going to go brush our beards.
Brett Campbell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.