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Roxane B. Salonen, Published September 13 2013

Living Faith: There goes rebel with a cause again

I’m not sure it was a choice so much as the natural course of things, but at some point in my growing-up years I began to be seen by some as a rebel.

Born into a family with one older sister who kept things safe and sound, I followed the unwritten psychological rule of same-gender siblings and did everything opposite of her in order to establish a unique identity.

At times, my differentness put me at an advantage. For example, Camille didn’t care for exploring new foods, so I’d try anything offered, including sardines, pickled pigs’ feet and escargot. My uncharacteristically exotic tastes earned repeated commendations from the adults in my life.

But in my teen years, this spirit of independence proved troublesome at times. Though I still fell to the lighter end of the black-sheep spectrum, my curious, adventurous ways brought me perilously close to disaster more than once.

Thankfully, my precociousness didn’t ruin me, and in some ways, may have helped me see early how much I needed God to survive.

In time, my rebel tendencies faded, and I entered a more serene phase of my life.

But it wasn’t to last. By young motherhood I’d begun noticing again deep feelings of contrariness rising from the ashes of my youth.

The first sign of the rebel’s return happened after I was encouraged to wean my first baby at the six-month mark. On the outside, I smiled half-heartedly. Inside, I protested quietly. Working with my gut and against the tide, I continued nursing beyond a year, despite audible gasps from the crowd.

As I moved more deeply into my new role, I found myself resisting other cultural norms as well and, for the good of my children, began discerning society’s offerings anew, including television habits, clothing choices and patronage of morally-questionable businesses.

It’s far from a comfortable existence. My “dare to be different” mindset has raised eyebrows at times from those who seem to whisper, “Alien dressed as a mother spotted in aisle nine.”

How much easier it would have been to just keep quiet and order what was on the menu, but I couldn’t. And I eventually faced that I’d become thoroughly counter-cultural – in the world but not of it.

Unlike true rebellion, however, which opposes for the sake of opposition, I am not a rebel without a cause, and sense my stubbornness as purposeful. If you listen carefully, you’ll find, at the root of the foot-stomping, a cry for justice, desire for wholeness and belief in the good.

In developing my moral compass, it’s all come down to two major choices: to live and die the hard but right way, like salmon swimming upstream, or float along the river blissfully before draining into the abyss.

At this point, my choice is firm, and though numbingly difficult in moments, living this contrary way is, in the end, the choice of life.

A condition comes attached to the gift of faith. In accepting it, we give up the right to live comfortably, for we can no longer hear injustice and shirk, nor see lack of mercy and duck.

But I’ve also heard it said that living in a depraved culture can be exhilarating. Through this paradoxical existence, we’re given an extraordinary opportunity to be revolutionaries of our time, brilliantly flickering candles in a world gone dark thirsting for light.

The choice for faith requires we live our suffering moments now rather than later. It means accepting the call to become rebels in this life; not aimless rebels with a mission of hate but rebels with a cause, of love.

Roxane B. Salonen is a freelance writer who lives in Fargo with her husband and five children. If you have a story of faith to share with her, email roxanebsalonen@gmail.com