I’m currently reading through Esther (and by currently I mean as of this week), and today I read Esther chapter 3.
So to give you some backstory, basically King Xerxes of Persia held a big banquet for all his nobles and other VIPs, and he wanted to flaunt his beautiful wife, Queen Vashti, before them. Queen Vashti, for reasons unknown, refuses (though let’s be honest, if I found out I was being called out to strut my stuff just to be ogled at by men I probably wouldn’t like it either).
The King is so outraged by this that he speaks to some of his trusted nobles, who advise him to put her in her place. “You can’t have a disobedient wife!” they tell him. “Think about how all the other wives of Persia will react when they find out that Vashti refused you! They’ll all think that they can refuse their husbands’ wishes! ‘There will be no end of disrespect and discord’ (v18)! You need to get rid of her to teach them all a lesson.”
And because his advisors were sooo wise, that’s exactly what he did. He deposed Vashti and banished her from his sight, and started the hunt for a new wife. All the prettiest virgins were chose for the palace, and they were primped and primed for an entire year before the king would even see them. After a year, he met with one virgin each day, until he met Esther.
Esther was beautiful, and she won the favor of everyone she met, including Xerxes. She was a Jew, who had lost both her parents, and so she was raised by her cousin Mordecai. Needless to say, she was chosen as the new queen.
Now that you’re up to speed, four years later, Xerxes decreed that everyone was supposed to bow down to this guy Haman. But Mordecai, being faithful to God, refused to bow down. Not just once, twice, or three times, no. Even when the authorities came to question him, he stood his ground and remained standing for his God. Seriously so admirable.
And I wondered…do I have the kind of faith that will stand up for what I believe, even when everyone is bowing down? Would I refuse to bend to pressure even in the face of public accusation and even the law? Or even just in the small things…when everyone is smack talking, or skipping out on church and getting those lovely hours of extra sleep, or talking about getting sh*tfaced, or making sexual jokes and making parties to read sex advice columns aloud, will I be the one to be okay with being different, or even absent? Who am I when everyone’s looking? Where am I when everyone’s looking?
It’s easy to talk poorly about advisors, or professors, or even other students. Now that the shininess of grad school and the wide eyed views of Hawaii have lost a touch of their glamour (just a tad), we’re settling in to that second year. When the nitty gritty starts to come out, and the sandpaper scratches can leave scars. It’s one thing to join in, it’s another to just stand there and listen, and it’s another to be the voice of change and grace in those situations. I wish I could say I’ve done the latter.
Not to mention the Cosmo parties. Yes, you read that right, the Cosmo parties. I’ve never read the magazines, but one of my friends here who actually was going to church with me last year has a joke subscription. So one night, our friends all got together for a night of Mexican fiesta feasting and a shared male voices only Cosmo reading. I had no idea it was such a racy explicit magazine, giving you second by second tips on how to, shall we say, perform and please. I decided not to go when it came to the August and September issues, but it was weird missing out on two of the few hangouts we’ve had in a while. And I didn’t even tell her the real reason that I decided not to go, that I felt uncomfortable talking so openly and not just that, but promoting this lifestyle that I just don’t agree with. I had a friend in town for the August issue, and the September issue I told her I just wasn’t coming.
It’s weird feeling peer pressure and being so old. I’d never felt it in high school, or even in college. I thought I’d grown out of this sort of thing by now, being 25 practically 26, but I guess not. So I have to decide–am I going to bow down and worship worldly things, or am I going to stand my ground when everyone’s looking?