Peer Pressure

11:31 AM

Poor peer pressure gets such a bad reputation. Peer pressure is blamed for everything from drug use to murders to the crazy behavior of the 1960s. And yet, it’s not all bad!! I have become a defender of peer pressure. And I submit the revolutionary concept that peer pressure, in and of itself, is not evil! Peer pressure is a device easily used to promote good or evil. The Bible recognizes the power of friends and warns of it in 1 Corinthians 15:33, ”Don’t be deceived. Bad company corrupts good morals.” If bad company corrupts, then what does good company do? Oh, the possibilities are endless!

Some things that Peer Pressure has introduced to me:

Coffee. For years, The Original VA Friend yapped endlessly about the glories of Starbucks and I was firmly anti-coffee. Mostly out of the “I don’t wanna try it because I don’t wanna get addicted” principle. When you work with people who practically have a coffee IV drip, caution is a good thing!… I tasted coffee for the 1st time in my life in 2006. Fast forward to today: I still won’t drink it everyday, but amazingly, I LIKE it. Maybe even LOVE it. With lots of cream and sugar, of course. But it’s coffee nonetheless.

Upside-Down Roller Coasters. I remember the first roller coaster that I ever experienced. It was an itty-bitty one at a place called Bland’s Park. I must’ve been 10 years old. And it made cry. So I avoided roller coasters… until one youth group trip to Hershey Park. My red-headed best friend dragged me onto The Great Bear—an upside-down, loopy, crazy, high-velocity ride that I absolutely loved!! I still hate heights. But I can enjoy the odd, upside-down roller coaster.

Letter-Writing. I wrote letters to The Oldest Friend for years, out of necessity. Because he lived hundreds of miles away, and this was before email! I learned how to ramble, be interesting and be personable… and to be caring. And to never, EVER use the phrase: “That’s really funny that you almost died!” It is easily misconstrued. (the guy almost died because he was bitten by a spider while cleaning under his bed—tell me, is that not funny?) I still love, love, LOVE getting mail.

Other things I like or love more because of people influencing me through the years… Basketball, flag football, HALO, Indian food, American history, poetry, sushi, blogging (LOL), hiking mountains, racquetball, cooking Italian food, gardening, baking pies, antiques, saxophone music, watching the Steelers, biographies of missionaries, the Methodist movement, Star Wars, tea parties, studying virtuousity, talking on the phone (yeah, I used to be a hater), crime dramas, classic literature—like Charles Dickens, crème brulee, big dogs!, running, etc. I could go on and on.

Thank God for my friends. For their influence and insight and weirdness. Without the “pressure” of friendships, I would be an entirely different person. My friends forced me out of my comfort zone—which was quite cozy and I didn’t want to leave! They exposed me to hobbies, interests, quirks and most importantly—passionate, radical pursuit of God!

Sometimes, it’s just one sentence spoken that stays in my mind and changes the course of my life. Sometimes just one experience that I remember vividly. One mention of an author. One prayer prayed. One heart open before the Lord. One invitation to dinner. One moment. Or many.

I started to walk with God, to pray every day and study His Word because of the influence of a youth pastor and a small discipleship group of my peers. I prayed out loud in a group because it was the thing to do. I kept myself pure in relationships because of the influence of my parents… I can honestly say (and have said for years) that I am who I am today because of the great influence of my friends. Especially, I am a Christian today because of their influence. Throughout my teenage and young adulthood years, it was the press and conversation of friends—most often, my closest friend and sis—that kept me on the straight and narrow way.

This causes me to consider my ways:
Am I the influenced or am I the influencer?
Am I a force for good or evil in the lives of my friends?
Do I pull others up with me?
Do I challenge the views of others?
Do I encourage complacency? Or encourage radical spirituality?
Am I a follower or a leader?

“And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
Hebrews 10:24-25

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