I can't believe she wore that...


I grew up in New Zealand, a culture heavily influenced by British values, and fairly body-conscious as a result. I also grew up in France and Switzerland, countries much less body-conscious. Then I moved to Canada, which is sort of middle-of-the-road, but which is heavily influenced by North American puritan culture on the outside, and North American porn culture on the inside. Then I moved to Finland, a country with little to no body-consciousness whatsoever.

During my travels, I discovered is that what's appropriate to wear in any given context differs widely from culture to culture.

What is appropriate to wear at the beach differs widely from culture to culture.
What is appropriate to wear to church differs widely from culture to culture.

Dissonance occurs when what you feel is appropriate differs with what someone else feels is appropriate. This dissonance plays out across the globe, and across any given nation, and any city, and even within what you might have thought was a homogenous social unit within a single neighbourhood.

"I can't believe she wore that."

Our minds are very quick to build narratives to explain the things we see. We're constantly looking for meaning, but unfortunately most of us simply stick with the meaning that our minds make up, assuming it's the objective truth. Rather than acknowledge that we are experiencing cultural dissonance, we tend to project our own cultural values upon others, and use that as the basis for our judgement.

"I can't believe she wore that. She must not..."

Rather than accept the judgements our mind makes up, God invites us to have our minds constantly renewed. He invites us to step into the cultural narrative of those around us, and see the world from their perspective, just as God stepped into our realm in the body of his son Jesus. If we listen to God, he will provide hints to break down our judgement-based narratives, and see others through eyes of love. Just like he does.

The next time you find your brain forming a narrative about someone, stop it. Take your thoughts captive, and submit them to God. Listen quietly, and allow him to lead your mental process. He will always lead you to love and grace. Write down the things that happen, and then review after a few days. What trends are starting to emerge? You may have a particularly strong cognitive bias towards one subject or another... like assuming everyone who dresses a certain way is immoral, or everyone who drinks alcohol is wasteful of their money. Submit these major topics to God, and invite his transformation.

It'll change your life, and your friendships too.