Cultural Camouflage

In the summer my family likes to attend the evening service at another church because they do a series called “At The Movies.” The pastor teaches a biblical truth using the story in a popular movie, complete with clips from the film. I am always amazed at how the truth in the story, even when it is the negative version, is consistent with God’s truth.

One of the sermons this summer used the movie “Wonder” about a boy, Auggie, who was disfigured from birth and how he and those around him learned to appreciate him for who he was. In the movie, Auggie’s sister tells him, “You can’t blend in if you were born to stand out.”

Auggie’s main concern on a daily basis is the attention he receives, much of it negative, because he looks different. He doesn’t match the “look” of the average person around him, so he is often rejected or at least politely avoided. Initially Auggie chooses to wear a space helmet in public rather than expose his face to scrutiny. Eventually, his classmates and others in the community look past his differences and find him to be a loving and wonderful friend.

There is a personal lesson in this movie for all of us. Every one of us has something about ourselves that we would choose to hide. We think that to connect with people we need to put forward our best look. But we’re wrong. We might impress people with our strengths, but we connect with people through our weaknesses. Transparency is risky, but it is the path to knowing and being known. It is in that kind of connection that our differences become positives and we find the love we all want.

There will always be bullies, but sometimes bullies change. Not everyone will want what we have, but the ones that do will connect and we will all be richer for it. It may be scary to take off a mask, but everyone else wishes they could take their mask off too.

I find a connection with this story for us corporately too.

There is a tendency to want to blend in. To be normal. To not make waves. While this may be applicable for some situations (not all attention is good attention,) it can lead us to forget our calling as a community.

We were not created to blend in.

We should stand out. We should lead even if it makes us (and others) uncomfortable. We should draw stares from those around us because we look different.

I shouldn’t have to say this, but the things you shouldn’t have to say are sometimes the most important, so I will. I’m not talking about acting or being outrageous in order to attract attention. I’m not talking about being anything for the sole purpose of attracting attention. Is that clear? Good.

I am talking about not wearing cultural camouflage to blend into the society around us. If we are different for a reason, we should not be ashamed of that. We should be honest about who and what we are and trust that the right people and communities will be attracted to the real us. We should be transparent (appropriately) so that people can choose to connect to what we believe and do.

Kimray was created to stand out, not to blend in. We should be what we are, unashamed and unmasked in every area of our community. In the buildings we build and the work we do in those buildings. In the principles we follow and the policies that are derived from them. In the way we treat each ourselves and the way we treat others.

So, what are we? We exist to make a difference in people’s lives. We believe that every single person has value and should be given dignity and respect. We are a community that loves, and love never fails.

If we act on these beliefs, we are going to stand out. People are going to notice, and once they get to know us we can share with them The Kimray Way.