Being Worlds Apart
In most social situations, I feel like an outsider. I don’t look forward to reunions or large scale parties. If given the choice, I’d much rather hotly debate a book or theory with one or two people than casually mingle at a banquet. In fact, the bigger the crowd, the more introverted and uncomfortable I become. And if it’s a work related event, I’m stressed by the need to play the part of interested, affable educator, when what I most want to do is flee to my car to the solitude of my own thinking.
I’m often asked if I’m having a good time (to which I always answer “yes” because being completely honest is impolite) or asked to smile (to which I always comply even though deep down I wonder if I were male would people venture such a requirement). And my very best friends and closest family know that while I’m loyal and protective of them and our relationships, I’m just not the kind of person who can stomach social events for very long, even though I love them beyond measure and want them to be happy.
Ironically, I’m perfectly fine leading a group, teaching a class, or giving a speech no matter the size of the crowd. Upon reflection, I realize that this is largely because those activities require quite a bit of alone time in planning and preparation, and to some degree, the solitariness on the stage (both metaphorical and literal at times) can be quite freeing and actually fun for me. It’s a strange paradox of an existence, but it’s mine.
In working on my relationship with Christ, I’m learning to not only change my ways that are contrary to His will for my life, but also to accept the parts that are authentically me and use them to discover and carry out my destiny. There are some idiosyncrasies and personal talents that I have been afforded that make me uniquely suited to do the things that God has purposed me to do, and just as much as He needs me to give up my sins and follow Him, He also needs me to embrace those things that make me stand apart, too.
Far too often, I have been worried about how I am perceived or have felt the need to mask who I really am to fit into a crowd or situation that a) is not pleasing to me, b) causes actual, profound discomfort, or c) is difficult or even impossible for me to reconcile with my faith. Still other times, I find myself needing to skillfully weave in and out of social situations for the ultimate uplift of His kingdom through my attentiveness to my assignment. What I’m learning, as a result, is that God requires that I figure out how to simultaneously be me and who He wants me to be even in worlds that are not me or Him. I have to be in the world yet apart from it as well.
Perhaps the feeling of being worlds apart is a blessing from God. If I totally fit in or feel too comfortable, maybe that’s a sign that I am not as connected to Him as I ought to be. What if this stiffness or unease is a protective feature that God has built in me to keep me tuned in to Him? What if I’m hardwired this way for a reason?
Heavenly Father, I thank you for spending time creating me exactly the way I am. I know that you make no mistakes, and part of my honoring you is recognizing the blessing of my uniqueness and embracing it even as I venture into the world to do your will. Every situation or circumstance is not guaranteed to be easy or even pleasing to me, but you, instead, require that I live connected to you no matter what I am faced with along the way. I pray that you help me own who I am in you and that I carry out my assignment in this world with grace and care, leaning on you for strength when I feel most uncomfortable. I pray that I never get so comfortable as to forget your purpose and expectations for me. Let me remember that instead of complaining or bemoaning having to go into other realms as part of your plan for my life that it is when times get hard that I can best demonstrate my loyalty and love for you. Let me not get weary of working for you, Lord. Amen
“…for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, but he comes that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” (John 14: 30-31)