When my amused mother handed over my kindergarten picture package to my dad that evening, I remember feeling very confused by the outrageous amount of laughter that ensued. What on earth was so funny? I pleaded for them to let me in on the joke. They pointed to me (the blond with the red-ribboned-pigtails, smug expression, and arms folded across her chest) and asked if I noticed anything different about myself compared with my classmates. No, I truly didn’t.
It might be surprising (or maybe not) to learn that social skills, friendships, and relationships in general have never come easy to me. Through all of the moves to new states, new cultures, new schools, and new churches, I often felt like the misfit. As a little girl, I was shy, reserved, but incredibly opinionated. As an adult, I’m still shy with much more confidence and many more opinions. I have to work on social graces and have to remind myself to filter what flows so freely from my brain to my expressions. (I can often control my tongue, but my body language continues to tattle on me.)
We have now been in our new home for an entire year and it saddens me that I don’t feel more “at home” here. I still feel very much like the misfit. Although it’s exciting to be part of Messiah College’s community, I am often reminded of how I don’t quite fit. This past weekend we were invited to an “All Saints Day Party” by a professor and his wife. We were instructed to come prepared to talk about a saint and dressing up was optional. At the party, people shared about their deceased father, a Muslim priest, a popular Buddhist, the hosts’ dog and his telepathic comrade, and of course some traditional Catholic saints. After you shared, you were to pick up a wooden dowel (which had an uncanny resemblance to a dildo) and ring a “singing bowl”, a small silver bowl that looks suitable to whip up some eggs. I had trouble keeping a straight face as each person shared something deep to many audible “mmmmmmmms” in agreement while gonging the mixing bowl with the phallus. I chose St. Rosa of Lima, the saint of Vanity who led a very depressing and masochistic life. I shared that I was glad to live in a time that allows for female expression of physical beauty within the Christian community. I don’t think this was necessarily appreciated by the crowd. And come to think of it, I didn’t really hear any audible “mmmmmmms” when I dutifully banged my bowl :).
This past Sunday in church while singing a song of praise I cried out to the Lord, “Why is it so hard for me to feel like I belong? I don’t fit well with any group and struggle to relate to even Your people.” I felt the Lord say to me, “You belong to Me. You are mine.” Oh, what a happy and needed reminder that gives me the strength to continue to relate to His people, misfit that I am.
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. Isaiah 43:1