I can recall receiving a specific message tailored just for me from a visiting prophet when I was twenty-one years old. His words were like a soothing balm, the proclamation I had always wanted in life, whether I realized it or not. He didn’t know me personally, yet the accuracy of his comments struck a chord with my misfit heart, and I have remembered them always.
He had spoken, “you feel like an outcast, like you’ve never fit in. But God wants you to know He has a place for you. You’ve always felt like a square peg, and God is saying He has a square hole in mind just for you.”
These encouraging words were just what I needed. I had always felt like an outsider in life. I was the girl in school who tried to hang out at the “cool kids’” lunch table, but had somehow never been able to take a seat there. I didn’t feel welcome.
As a child I was the new kid, from out West, with the weird accent. Totally tubular.
Or I was the sick kid. Epilepsy. Not a well-known condition in small-town U.S.A.
I was the adopted kid, never really fitting in with all the cousins. Treated differently by the grandparents even if they didn’t mean it to be that way.
I was the little girl who was so ordinary that her biological father had left town, never looking back at the daughter he rejected.
I was the quiet girl in school. Pretty, but odd. Puberty didn’t hit until I was seventeen, and I was the last cheerleader who still admitted to playing with Barbies or frogs.
In all the Howard Hughes’ films of the eighties, the outcasts and misfits at least had their own clique. Even The Nerds got their revenge.
But I didn’t fit in anywhere. I couldn’t find my group, and went through most of my young life trying way too hard to find my niche. A loner. Maybe even a loser.
I was born again at the age of 19. I can remember feeling such acceptance into God’s family, but it seemed short-lived. I’ll never say this was anyone’s fault but my own. I know my own perceptions are often to blame. It was probably the devil at work in my feelings, and perhaps in the actions of others as well. Regardless, I never felt like I fit into the Church. Most of my Christian peers had been raised in a deep faith, and I was still learning to read the Bible. I didn’t understand all the rules, of what was good, or what was definitely bad. I was on a learning curve when it came to taboos of the Christian walk, and those who corrected me were not usually gentle. Sadly, I have way too many instances of harsh correction by my “sisters” in faith, and I know I have healing still left from those encounters.
I had a past, but one thing I learned about people was, ones outside the church didn’t care about that stuff. They didn’t give a hoot about what I wore, if I watched an R rated movie, or if I had saved myself for marriage. It was much easier to get along with the people who skipped Sundays all together, and so began a season of being apart from God.
It makes me wonder, is backsliding the result of sinful influence outside the church, or is it perhaps the realization one haves that they’ll never be good enough to have a place at the table of religion?
Oh, but Grace. Great, great grace.
I have finally found my place. I have finally found where I fit. For awhile I thought the place that prophet spoke of over twenty years ago was a certain space. For years I wondered where God would move me, or what group of friends He would put in my path. Still corrupted by the ways of this world, and still scarred by past rejection, I still tried to make myself fit. I attempted to insert myself in this women’s group or that ministry opportunity. I allowed my belief system to be that of the majority to which I wanted to conform, knowing that to sit at the table, there are certain standards you must uphold, and certain opinions you must keep inside. The thing is, no matter how much I tried to mold myself into the Godly women I admired, the more unqualified I felt. I wasn’t the trendy mom, the crafty homeschooler, or the first hand up to volunteer for watching the nursery on Sunday. I didn’t like being busy, spinning plates, or overwhelming my schedule. Then I had this habit of seeing the best in others, trying to walk in the shoes of the “sinners,” and remembering far too easily the past I had previously mentioned. I wanted to give money to a guy on the street without worrying if he was going to spend it wisely! I wanted to believe that each time a drug addict ended up in my hospital bed, that they would stop using, and change their life. When others whispered about a short skirt on Sunday, I remembered a “church lady” making me leave a meeting because my t-shirt said the word “suck” on it.
My weird ideas have often left people confused. My fair treatment of those different than myself has made me unpopular in certain circles. In fact, the last year has found me ousted from the table of many of my Christian friends, simply for speaking topics not allowed for discussion. I guess we could call them “square peg” topics in the circular world of religion.
I felt so hurt. I felt the rejection all over again. Kindness was met with anger, and I trudged away licking my wounds. I guess sometimes you think you’ve found the place where God has you to fit in, only to discover you’ll never fit! We aren’t meant to fit in the pretty, round spaces this world provides. It turns out the edges have hidden rough spots, and you can get a face full of splinters, even as others have planks in their eyes.
When I read the Bible, though, I felt like I fit. When I read, re-read, meditated, and prayed over the words of Jesus, I felt totally at home. In His warm embrace I found my place, and in His love I found me.
I’m not in any way trying to lessen the importance of gathering with fellow believers. I truly belief that finding a church home, surrounded with brothers and sisters in Christ is much needed. Relationships are beneficial! The support, counsel, and correction of other believers is required in this confusing walk of life. So, don’t get me wrong, here. I’m not saying to throw out the baby with the bath water. But I am saying that some dirt and grime can get in the way sometimes.
Some people in this world find their place like the perfect glove. For others, they always feel like an outcast. I think it’s good to understand that if you don’t feel like you fit, you’re in good company. Jesus never fit in with the religious leaders of His day, either. People will misunderstand you, they will hurt you, or they’ll unknowingly (perhaps, knowingly) push you out. But at the table of the Father, there’s always a seat saved for you. Right next to Christ. It’s in His love we find our perfect place. It’s in His love that we finally fit in.
Penni Bulten says
I can so identify with this as a geeky type who lived in a small town where athletes were the in-crowd. The one place I did feel accepted was our church. Maybe it was because other types of talents were respected there: musical, written, artistic. The church seemed to be a more accepting place for me than other places, like school. I don’t know whether the church was more accepting when I was younger, but it’s possible- I’m a child of the 70’s when the Jesus movement was starting. Many, even in small towns and more conservative states, were trying to enfold them.
Natalie Calk says
This was super powerful and allowed us to feel your vulnerability for God. The sad of yiur writing is where I read the church does not offer a safe haven of inclusion. We are facing that era again in the church, unfortunately. It is time we all step up and get outside of our boxes! Great read tonight! Thanks for sharing.
Cherry Y says
Comforting, a good reminder w some hard truth…
Thank you, Brie, for getting in my head and helping me to feel less of an outcast, knowing there are more people than we realize with the same kind of experiences and feelings. Also, I’m in total agreement with you regarding the ‘fitting in’ issue. God has places for everyone and how He loves us ‘squares’ and makes adjustments for us(: He’s full of grace; the perfect host at the table of life!
Mark Foster Brack says
I wrote a comment to you on one of your blog posts – and I don’t want you to think I wrote in anger. I just wanted to share my POV with you. Since I have been in the trenches in “that” world.
I get it – when you say you never felt like you fit in – maybe all of us geeks feel or felt that way? Nothing is more awesome than G-D – he is your G-D and you love him back – you – I am sure – are an AWESOME person……
What is your definition of a prophet? I thought it was someone who directly heard from God.
That is correct.