• Marnie Hammar

Holy Conformity Won't Do

Updated: Apr 27

[This post is featured in the Anticipation issue of Fathom Mag, February 2021.]


It stuck out, an anomaly. In the collection of toothpick-thin pine trees, one tree stood towards the front, as if pushed forward as a rejection from the others. This tree stretched straight towards the sky with its neighbors, but about two stories up, took a curvy right sideways turn, permanently bent over at its hips. It bowed low.


From my very beginning, I too stretched straight, following those around me. In my seat in the front pew or back pew or choir loft or wherever else a preacher’s daughter might feel like sitting, I absorbed what it meant to be a Jesus girl. As the years passed, the churches to which my dad was called changed—the quaint little white church atop a steep hill, the sprawling brick chapel on an Army base, and those back-to-back picturesque Main Street churches in two different tiny towns. With each move, I did what was expected of me. After all, I was a church girl.


It was so natural to go and be and do that I didn’t really even have to think about it. I knew the answers and the fancy words. I’d hear the verse, “Do not be conformed to this world . . .” and I’d think, “I’m good, right?” After all, I’d lived my life inside steepled buildings. I always stretched to grow “right,” like all of those straight pine trees.


But sometimes a strong posture can hide a weak practice.


My posture might have looked tall and tidy, but pew-sitting and list-checking don’t grow roots. Fifteen years ago, my husband and I walked through a treacherous and hard season in our marriage that pulled at those shallow roots. My faithful performing and blending weren’t enough. I faced the edge of my own wisdom, and only then did I see what I’d missed.

No, I might not have conformed to all of the world’s ways, but I had still conformed. I conformed to church —and completely missed Jesus.


Read the full article over at Fathom Mag.


Photo credit: Peter Law, Unsplash.

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