It starts young.
“Good little girls do this.”
“Real Christians don’t believe that.”
“If you wanna be cool, you better put on a pair of these.”
“If you’d like to belong, here’s what you need to do.”
“Color in the lines, child. Don’t rock the boat. Clean yourself up. Gotta look presentable.”
Belonging. We all crave it. No one wants to be the square peg desperately wiggling to fit in a round hole. Or the lone one outside the box when everyone is safe and cozy within.
Just recently, I turned to Matt and announced in more-than-slightly melodramatic tone, “Maybe it’s me. I guess I’m just BROKEN. NO REEEEALLY. Is something wrong with me? Clearly, something is wrong with me.”
And then, the floodgates just opened as I went on.
Maybe I’m just too passionate.
Too much this. (And, often, not enough that.)
I feel like I don’t belong anywhere.
Perhaps you’ve been there. Maybe you’ve felt like something is… off. Like you just don’t belong. Like maybe your passion is too big or your beliefs all wrong. Maybe you glance sideways and see the huddles. The groups of people who seem so alike in all the right ways. They’re not too much, nor are they too little. They don’t rock the boat. They color in the lines. And they fit ever-so-neatly in all the right boxes.
Maybe it’s that you feel like you’re too liberal. Or too conservative.
Too outspoken. Too silent.
Too political. Too unengaged.
Too Baptist. Too Catholic. Too Presbyterian, Methodist, or Pentecostal.
Too much law, not enough grace. Not enough law… easy there on that grace.
The truth is, it’s easy to feel a bit unhinged over all of this. Like you just don’t fit in. Even at church. Especially at church.
But what if…
What if we were never designed to be boxed in? What if, rather than hiding out in our own comfy little boxes, our goal is to be hidden in Christ? To know Him. To enjoy Him. To share Him with others.
What if we could be okay with our Creator’s work? So what if our passions and words and days don’t look precisely like all the others, so long as our eyes are locked in on Him, just doing the next right thing.
What if, rather than this elusive idea of “fitting in,” our greatest relational objective is to see one another as God’s image-bearers? What if our eyes were trained to look straight through boxes and walls and differences to lock in with our peers- all different and unique in their own ways? To say “I see you, and I see you, and I see you too.”
What if our identity could be so secure as a child of the sovereign, holy, unchangeable One that we could stomp out our comparison games once and for all? What if, rather than obsessing over our differences and questioning our belonging, we make a deliberate decision as the body of Christ to be a united front? Because there’s work to be done. And we have- no, I HAVE- wasted too much time on comparisons.
Here’s the thing, friends. God does not view us as too much or too little, too weak or too strong. Because we’re vessels created in His image for His glory. Vessels fearfully and wonderfully created by the masterful Creator who makes no mistakes. Vessels for God to use for HIS purposes in HIS strength. We don’t need to shine ourselves up or tone ourselves down. We simply need to come with empty hands saying, “Alright God, this is what you’ve got in me. Have at it.”
And He WILL. He’ll have it, alright. But, spoiler alert: this initially looks a whole lot like our own sanctification and realignment. We’re so eager to put our “yes on the table” and do great things for God, but often God is saying, “Whoa, hang on now. I know you want to use your passions and your giftings, but let’s start with me. Let’s talk about who I am.”
We say, “My passion is just too big.” He says, “I’ll show you passion,” while pointing to the cross.
We say, “I’m too weak”, and He reminds us that His power is amplified in our weakness- that He alone is enough for us.
We say, “I’m just so tired,” and He shows us the rest found by abiding in Him.
And when we say, “I just don’t belong“… well, THE ETERNAL AND IMMORTAL GOD looks at us and calls us HIS.
So, fine. Maybe I am passionate at times. Maybe I do have a bleeding heart that can cry at the drop of a hat. Maybe I’m too much on some days and too little on others. Maybe I champion all the “wrong” things and don’t fit in a single box around me. And maybe you, too, can relate.
But, for the love, let’s just agree on something right here, right now. Let’s agree to stop apologizing for who God made us to be. Let’s stop bemoaning and belittling His creation. Let’s drop that whole “I’m too this, not enough that, WOE IS ME” act because I annoy even myself with that mess.
Let’s pause. And, sure, take inventory of the gifts, personalities, passions, and abilities our Creator has placed within us, leveraging every last drop of it for His fame and glory.
But, let’s keep first things first. Christ as our primary identity, chief goal, and greatest treasure. Because when we’re hidden in Christ rather than hidden in our own personalities and ideologies- when HE is our greatest prize and highest goal- nothing. else. matters.
One mission. Singular focus.
Coloring in the lines and fitting in the boxes is SO LAST SEASON anyway.