Trying to Fit In
It seems that for much of my life I’ve been that proverbial square peg trying to fit into a round hole. Being an introvert by nature, I crave time alone or with intimate small groups. I generally avoid large groups when I can and when I can’t, I generally feel socially awkward and out of place. At the same time, however, I love people. I really want to be on the inside, talking, interacting, and sharing; but, I generally feel so uncomfortable that for the most part I just can’t seem to fit in. Have you ever been there?
Through the years God has helped me to see who I am in Him, instead of what I may think about myself, or what others may think about me. So I really hadn’t thought about this for some time until just recently. My husband and I were on the way to a large city about 300 miles away where I was attending a writers’ conference for a new assignment. We were reminiscing about similar trips we had made through the years for other assignments when suddenly unbidden tears began to sting my eyelids. I remembered. Oh, how well I remembered. I could still recall how fearful I was on that very first trip – not so much over the assignment, but over the experience itself! Could I fit in? Would I be accepted? I could still feel the gnawing fear and worry I felt about being able to fit in.
But, I had no need to fear. It wasn’t so much that I was able to fit in, but I was accepted. I may have still been that square peg, but I didn’t feel the need to try to fit in or be what everyone else wanted me to be or thought I should be. I may not have been stylish or eloquent, or have the abilities of other writers, but I was accepted! Their acceptance was a precious gift to this square peg!
Paul told the Romans: “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: ‘The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.’ For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Romans 15:1-7, NIV).
While I didn’t fully comprehend it then, now I understand that those dear Christians were simply modeling the love of Christ. They accepted me and encouraged me not because of who I was, but because of who Christ is.
I personally think that we probably look the most like Christ when we love others —
- Without reservation
- Without condition
- Without preconceived notions and attitudes
- With acceptance
- With forgiveness
- With praise to God
Think of the way God showed His love for us. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Christ loved us unconditionally, even when we were still sinners. Do we love others – even our own brothers and sisters in Christ – the same way? Or do we dole out love based on our own pre-conceived notions of who is deserving of our love?
Still, today, I sometimes find myself wondering about what I need to do to “fit” in and be accepted. But, thankfully, Christ has helped me see that in Him –
- I am chosen (John 15:16)
- I am a child of God (John 1:12)
- I am not condemned (Romans 8:1)
- I am His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10)
- I am redeemed (Ephesians 1:7-8)
- I am a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19)
- I am a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)
While I may not always fit in or be accepted by others, I know that in Christ, I am complete. He created me, square peg that I am – not to try to fit in – but to be the person He calls me to be and to love and encourage others with the same attitude with which He has loved me. As Jesus, Himself, stated: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34). In Christ, we can all fit – completely and perfectly!