Stripes and plaids DO go together!

I-40 from Wilmington to Winston-Salem has been a regular companion of mine the past several months. Road trips can be awesome, but I honestly don't enjoy the driving part. I am still trying to figure out how to invent the "Get There Button" that can magically transport me to wherever I want to go with the push of a button. So far, I got nothing.

On my recent travels, I have noticed an odd traffic phenomenon that I simply have no explanation for: As soon as I pass into Wake County going west bound, traffic suddenly slows down for a few miles to about 40 mph. There is not a wreck ahead, no traffic cones signaling caution, no speed traps that are making drivers paranoid. Traffic simply slows with no explanation. And this happens any time of day that I hit that same section - it can be morning, afternoon, or late at night. It's the craziest thing and it's especially irritating if I am caught up in it.

This got me thinking: Who or what started these kinds of patterns that we see all around us? And I'm not just talking about odd traffic patterns that drivers fall into. Think about music - who decided that the majority of songs that we hear on the radio should all last around four minutes? Is there some unwritten rule that says that if you record a song any longer than that then people will tune out? And have you ever wondered who comes up with the change in style from decade to decade? Today's music sounds nothing like it did in the 1960's, but none of us seem to notice how or why these changes in patterns take place until we see the change that has occurred.

Then there are fashion and beauty trends. In the 1970's, it was perfectly normal for a guy like me to wear plaid pants with a striped shirt. Everyone was doing it and I have no idea who started that trend. When the 1980's rolled around it was acid-washed jeans, shirts tucked in to pants that were tight rolled at the bottom and held up by extra long belts, and oversize t-shirts that were rolled up at the sleeves. And the hair! Big and frizzy and heavily hair-sprayed. Looking back at my middle school and high school pictures, I shudder to believe that I ever participated in any part of those fashion debacles!

Patterns are all around us. They define our lives and how we relate to others. Social media has capitalized on this phenomenon, pushing people into categories and causing cultural uproars on a daily basis. The pattern that so many people fall into now is to look at their phones and their social media sites for every bit of information and news that they can find. Sadly, most of this information is false at best, damaging and divisive at worst.  

Even though the patterns we see around us can often be negative and questionable, it doesn't mean that all patterns are bad. When Jesus came on the scene some 2,000 years ago, He turned the religious establishment on its head because not only did He buck the backwards trends of the day, but He set up other patterns for men and women to follow. Love your neighbor as well as your enemy. Don't put your hope in your possessions or standing among men but rather serve others. Turn the other cheek. Go the extra mile.

And then Jesus set the ultimate pattern for us to follow - He denied Himself and took up His cross, not for His own benefit but for our gain. Jesus calls for us to look beyond ourselves and our own desires to a life that will glorify God above all else.

That's a pattern you don't see advocated much on social media today, do you?

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