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Immerse: Beginnings, Week 10

Southern Mode

My family is from a very small town in southwest Virginia, just over the state line of eastern Tennessee. Everyone from that neck of the woods has a very distinct southern accent. Whenever I hear someone with a particular drawl, I immediately know they’re one of “my people.” Surprisingly though, most people I meet would never guess where I was born. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but over the years, I trained myself to suppress it. My mom and I moved to Florida when I was 5, so my accent was a part of who I was at that point in my development. I don’t remember any specific incident that triggered the change in me, but I do remember the kids in school saying, “You talk funny.” I just wanted to fit in at a new school and be more like everyone else. I allowed my desire for acceptance to influence my actions.

I’m sure many of you have experienced something similar. Maybe you went to a restaurant you hated during a night out because everyone else seemed to love it. Maybe you got in trouble, even when you knew better, because your friends were making bad decisions and you didn’t want to be the “goodie two shoes.” We’ve all heard of these peer pressure situations. But sometimes we change things about ourselves, not because the people around us pressure us to do them, but because we’ve found ourselves in an environment to which we’ve become acclimated. For example, as soon as my aunt or dad call me, I immediately switch into “southern mode.” Like a chameleon changing colors, the way I talk morphs into that of the voices around me. I don’t even consciously think about it while I’m doing it. It has become second nature.

This kind of thing is exactly what God was warning the Israelites about. While diving into week 10 of Immerse: Beginnings, one thing stood out among all the rules in Leviticus; it was God warning them about the dangers of imitating the life of others. Most of these laws weren’t just randomly thought up. They were all things the Canaanites were currently guilty of, and God knew the dangers of being surrounded by those sins. He was instructing them to make a clear line between those who choose to follow God and those who do not. He wants us to be recognized by our behavior as easily as you can pinpoint what part of the world someone is from when you hear them speak. Second Timothy 2:21 says, “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” How are you presenting yourself to others? Are your actions reflecting Christ-like behaviors, or are they imitating those of the world?

- Serena Maerkl