Right before church on Sunday, I prayed, “Hey, I need you to give me a lot today. Stuff for me, and for my blog.” Because I have officially become that person who is always looking for stuff to write about.
And God did. Because my pastor got up and one of the first sentences was, “Do you ever feel like you don’t belong?”
*Awkwardly raises hand*
I think everyone goes through a point in their life when they walk into a room of people and they don’t know anyone. Or even if they do, they don’t know if they should go up to them and say, “Hi! Your awkward friend is here!” Maybe that room full of people is their own family. Some of us are better at hiding that uncomfortableness, and some of us just shut down and never go anywhere. Which was kind of me.
I matured a lot faster than a lot of kids my age; by the time I was ten, I distinctly remember not wanting to participate in a lot of the ‘make-believe’ games that my siblings and cousins were playing. Which put me at odds with them. But I was too young to hang out with the adults all the time. (Let’s just say that I threw a lot of fits when my parents made me go to bed early with the other kids.) But I always felt like I was the odd one out. Didn’t want to hang with the kids, couldn’t hang with the adults.
By the time I was twelve, I had my own computer, and there is definitely a reason why I had time to write a 100,000 word book by my thirteenth birthday. I was much more content to sit with my fictional characters that would never laugh at me or roll their eyes.
I lived and breathed with football. And I was also a swimmer and perfectly comfortable in a swim suit, which put me at odds with some of my Christian friends. I was that crazy person who could talk for hours about Tom Brady, spent most of my time writing instead of doing school, swam every night in a swim suit, and yeah. I was not a stereotypical teenage girl.
I didn’t think I belonged.
Whether we like to admit or not, we’ve all been there. At a new church, at a party, on a date (okay, I’m just assuming that can happen), or maybe you’re even on a website, reading some articles and suddenly you realize that maybe you don’t belong here.
And it sucks.
Before I say anything dramatic, let me just say this: you are not the only one. Everyone gets uncomfortable/awkward and just wants to get out of there. Some just hide it better. And the deep issue?
We think we’re not good enough.
But y’know what? You do belong. (And if people thought they did, there wouldn’t be so many books and dramatic blog posts about this subject.)
According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of belong is 1) to be suitable, 2) to be the property of someone or thing, 3) to be a member of a club or society.
Okay. Thankfully it’s a fairly simple description and it’s really easy to look at those and say ‘I don’t belong’. Either you’re not suitable, or no one points to you and says, ‘this is my wife/boyfriend/daughter’, and there’s no way that you’re a member of any club.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? I can honestly tell you that the only ‘club’ I was actually a part of was club swimming. That was the only place I felt like I actually mattered. Every other little group I tried to be in….that didn’t work.
For by him all things were stead, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. ~ Colossians 1:16
Stare at that last part for a few extra seconds.
God created you. You weren’t a mistake. All things in heaven and on earth, the visible and invisible…all things were created through him and for him. Remember how many times you thought you were invisible? He created you too. He created the rulers and the authorities. Everyone who breathes, who looks around at their coworkers, family members, teammates and wonders if they should be there. If they deserve to be there.
God created all of them.
He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. ~ Zephaniah 3:17
God finds you suitable. If he didn’t find every single person to be worthy of his love, then why would he go through all the trouble of coming down here if he was just going to die for a few gorgeous, talented, perfect people?
Beloved, we are God’s children now… ~ 1 John 3:2
You are God’s property. We are his children, which means that he’s our father. Which, in turn, means that he calls us his sons and daughters. You have someone who will say, “This is my child.” Maybe you don’t know of anyone who can say that about you on this earth, but the creator of the universe can.
But our citizenship is in heaven. ~ Philippians 3:20
As a Christian, you are a part of the most important club that will ever exist. It has the best benefits and the only leader who will ever know exactly what he’s doing and when he’s going to do it.
Look, I get it. Sometimes Bible verses and dramatic words are great, but they’re not always the part that make the most sense at once. So how about this.
That swimming career turned out pretty darn good. It gave me a job as a swim coach, and a lot of awesome memories. (And some nice back muscles that some girls ridiculed a while ago, but guess what? Those muscles are great.)
Me being a huge football fan started my love for writing, and eleven years later, I’m working on publishing my first novel. And it all started with me not being able to stop talking about Tom Brady.
Still haven’t entirely figured out the whole ‘too old for kids, too young for adults’ thing, but hanging with the adults as much as I could gave me a lot of great things to write about. And ultimately, going to bed early with my cousins gave me (and them) a lot of great memories of making noise until someone came down to tell us we needed to be quiet.
I promise you do. It’s not an easy thing to think you do, and there will be moments that you just want to cower in the corner. That’s okay too.
But remember that you do belong.
And let’s just remember, when you’re at a party or at a family gathering or who knows where, look for that person hanging out in the corner or back, or more toward the middle but staring at their phone (that is me; I can guarantee there is nothing of importance on that stupid thing). Go say hi.
Acknowledge they’re there. If you happen to be a fanatic of the Miami Dolphins and you’re living in Montana, embrace it. Wear all your gear around, and you’ll be surprised how many people will say ‘hey, they’re a cool team…’.
We’re all unique. God created us that way. It makes life fun! There’s plenty of boring things about life, but if we embrace the craziness and maybe the quietness, it shakes everything up a bit for the good, and it’s great.
And remember, you belong.