02 May One of These Things Is Not like the Others
If I had a theme song, it would be one from the TV show Sesame Street that I watched when I was a kid:
One of these things is not like the others
One of these things just doesn’t belong
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?
I never feel like I fit anywhere. At best, I feel mildly out of place, but most of the time I feel like I am nothing—like I am the odd woman out. Let’s face it: I am socially awkward on my best day.
In middle and high school, I never had a specific group. I flowed from one group to the other feeling like I was an outsider. I always felt like people could see that I was different, not good enough, and didn’t fit in. In college, I was either the oldest one in the group or the youngest one in the group (that almost never happens anymore).
“At best, I feel mildly out of place, but most of the time I feel like I am nothing—like I am the odd woman out.”
I felt like it would dissipate as an adult, but in some ways, it is worse. In my 20’s, all my friends were getting married, and I remained single. I was always the third wheel. In my 30’s, most of my friends were starting families, and I was still struggling with singleness and God’s plan for my life. I was the designated babysitter when my friends went out with each other.
The “not fitting in” often felt worse at church. I had not been raised in church the way it felt like everyone around me had. I felt out of place during women’s studies at church, since a great deal of them focused on being a good wife and mother. And everyone seemed to go home with their family on Sundays, while I usually grabbed lunch alone on the way home. This made me avoid people and group activities which led to further isolation and a continued sense of not fitting in.
But periodically, there were times in my life when I had to reach out to others for help and times when people reached out to me without being asked. Through these circumstances, I realized that life is not about fitting in. It is about belonging.
“Through these circumstances, I realized that life is not about fitting in. It is about belonging.”
Belonging is different than fitting in. Fitting in assumes similar personality and circumstances. Belonging is being accepted, loved, and cared for regardless of circumstances, while moving toward a common goal. Belonging also means that I can love, serve, and care for others, despite differences in seasons of life or personality, while striving toward a shared purpose.
Several verses refer to this idea, but Galatians 3:26-29 (NIV) sums it up for me:
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
I may not fit in, but I belong.
Barbara is a high school counselor, unlikely CrossFit convert, and Clemson Tiger fan. She loves her therapy dog, Scooter, and niece and nephews (not necessarily in that order).