When You Don’t Fit In

When You Don’t Fit In

“Daddy! I need help.” “Daddy, I need heLP.” “Daddy, I need HELP!!!!”

I hear this sentence dozens, perhaps thousands, of times a day. It starts quiet and builds in volume the longer I don’t respond! This morning it had to do with a Mini-Mouse puzzle my girl Zoey was trying to figure out. And when it comes to puzzles, I am the last person she should ask to help. Puzzles are so frustrating…I mean, why not just leave the picture together for goodness sake? Now there is an idea for a company, puzzles that are permanently put together! I would invest in something like that (which probably explains why God gave me Janan).

Puzzles frustrate her most when the pieces don’t fit…which is most of the time!

Life is a lot like a puzzle. Sometimes, you feel like you just don’t fit. It’s something Janan and I have discussed a lot.

Here are just a few personal examples. I love sports, but my favorite one is hockey, not that big in the US! My theological training is Methodist, but feel more comfortable in settings where a variety of perspectives are shared. I like multiethnic environments and the joy of learning from people of different cultures, but Idaho ain’t all that diverse.

This isn’t a cry story about myself. I love where we’re at in this stage of life. My family is awesome, church is great (please Covid-19, be over), and love the new friends we’ve made since our move from Toronto to Idaho.

But…there is still that nag. A nag to be known. The more I talk to others, I realize I am far from alone in this regard. Unless we hang with the same group of friends from birth to death, this feeling of “not fitting in” is impossible to avoid. Life experiences are too different and there are always certain categories you get lumped into joining – Single, single and looking, single and dating, single and wishing everyone would stop asking you about dating, married, married with a dog, married with kids (not the same as married with a dog).

I used to think of relationships as a linear progression, continuously getting better each year. But this is generally not the case. Relationships are more like overlapping circles. I have my circle and for a time John’s and Jay’s circle might overlap with mine, but then life happens and you drift apart. Maybe you stay closer to John, but Jay becomes that guy you only talk to every so often, reminiscing about those “great times” in High School.

Unfortunate as this may be, it is unavoidable. It’s rare to find relationships like I have with my friend David, where we have been weekly accountability partners for close to ten years. Life tends to pull us apart.

Now, there is obviously an unhealthy side of “not fitting in.” It can be used as a license to distance ourselves from other Christians, avoid accountability, and maintain this attitude that says, “I am woke, and you are not.” (Woke is such a fun word to use)

Then I think of 2 Corinthians 5.

1 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

Key word there is tent, from the Greek word “Skenos.” Recently, I was reading through John 1 where I came across this same word, this time in reference to Jesus in verse 14: And the word became flesh and tabernacled, pitched a tent, among us.

I love the picture these two passages show us. On one hand, we live in an earthly tent known as our bodies. We will return to the dust from where we once came. In an actual sense, we are not intended to entirely fit into this world. Even the best relationships we have with others are lacking. Geographical boundaries, personal bias, and time restraints all get in the way of having the deep, satisfying relationships we will one day experience in Heaven.

So what do we do? We live as Christ. The analogy isn’t perfect, but as Christ chose to pitch his tent and dwell among men and women – many of which rejected him – we are called to do the same. Some of the relational restraints we experience today will only be wiped away in the light of eternity, when the fog is pulled back and we see God and others clearly.

Feeling like a misfit today, especially during this Covid-19 season? Here are some thoughts:

  1. Take hope in Christ. He descended from Heaven to earth. He knows and sympathizes with your thoughts, concerns, and pain.
  2. Don’t get too comfortable in your house. We are to live in tents, not houses. Despite the push to design bodies that will live forever, this hope is only a phantasy that masks the true longing of our souls.
  3. Find another misfit. Despite the self-assured image many people portray, deep down I would venture to guess we all battle with insecurity and those fears of not measuring up. We just have to make the effort to connect.

I hope this is helpful!