You try and you try and you try to fit in.
Everywhere you look, something or someone is telling you what you should be doing (so that you fit in).
I say “(so that you fit in)” because it’s not overtly said…
Especially in the church, Christian, faith-based world.
Nobody would ever come right out and say:
“You should decorate your house like this.”
“You should do your hair this way.”
“You should use this phone.”
“You should wear this style of jewelry.”
“You should read these authors.”
“You should join this book club.”
“You should be an amazing photographer.”
“You should fully grasp how to pin things on Pinterest.”
But that’s what you hear.
At least, that’s what I hear.
It was easy to be off social media while we were in Africa. My phone stayed on airplane mode for two solid weeks. Wifi was spotty. The electricity didn’t even work all the time. My, how those voices in my head were quieted.
Some people do just fine on social media. In my ten years of blogging (yes, it’s been that long), I have learned I do not.
Comparison is one of my many thorns and it pricks at my confidence and security, bleeding them dry tiny drop by tiny drop.
Tonight as I washed my face I looked over at our bathroom mirror where once I planned on hanging Bible verses for Tim and I to memorize.
I wanted to use these cute little templates I found on Pinterest and pen them in with such a bold yet feminine script and somehow these hypothetical perfect little Bible verses with chevron patterns would scream how much I loved Jesus and my family and what a creative and crafty person I was for putting them on the bathroom mirror.
That never happened. Not for lack of trying. Even after my best attempt, I’m fairly certain a second grader could have done better.
I scroll through my various social media feeds, now free for my gluttonous consumption now that Lent has come and gone. These friends are at this conference, these people are at this fabulous new restaurant, and my failed Bible verse craft mocks me.
Why can’t I just fit in like everyone else? I asked nobody, staring in the mirror.
When have you ever fit in, Anne? I heard back.
I looked down at my dog, half expecting her to say something else. She didn’t.
It wasn’t your dog, the voice spoke with familiarity into my soul.
You will never fit in. You will never be like anyone else. You should be used to this by now.
I winced, my face offering up some kind of plea for a compromise.
This is the way I made you. You’re different. You’ll always notice it. You’ll never be like everyone else. And that’s for a reason.
Oddly, I felt a bit comforted by the certainty in His voice.
And you need to tell others this. Tonight.
Maybe you’re like me, at least in this one tiny little way. You don’t feel comfortable in your own skin because you’ve covered it up with so many subtle expectations you think others place on you. You so desperately long to be like everyone else you see, even just a little bit, just so you can pretend to fit in.
You think when you finally feel like you fit in, you won’t have to be afraid to be you anymore.
You’ll be loved and accepted and your chevron-patterned Bible verse cards on your bathroom mirrors will look just like everybody else’s. You can’t compare yourself to anyone anymore because you look just like them.
This breaks your Father’s heart.
Sweet friend, I don’t tell you this to judge you. I’m preaching to myself and those were the words I heard – not of condemnation, but of love. Be different. Embrace who you are, even if it seems like you feel left behind or that there’s something wrong with you because you aren’t getting sucked into a vortex of cultural monotony.
The truth is even the people with the perfect chevron-patterned Bible verse cards and the girls who know how to layer all those necklaces and look awesome and who can paint their fingernails without them ever getting smudged feel the exact same way you do.
This is the way I made you. You’re different. You’ll always notice it. You’ll never be like everyone else.
And that’s for a reason.
I’d place my money that the reason is because we’re all like little pieces in a stained glass window, with different colors and thicknesses and flaws and bubbles.
The only place we fit in is when our edges touch each others.
Then we are strong.
We’re hues and textures and boldness and softness and broken and smooth and cloudy and clear.
The light hits us all in different ways and hits us in both our pretty and our broken places, but we’re all used to shine the same light in to the same darkness that longs for it and for the hope it brings.