I have written a great many blog posts lately.

I haven't posted any of them. 

This is because I'm as perfectionistic in my blogging as I am in the other areas of my life. I want to produce the perfect post. The one that's thoughtful and well-written and that won't offend too many people.

I complete a post, and then realize, 'oh shoot! So-and-so's going to be sooo offended at me for saying this. They'll probably try to start another argument.' Sometimes I decide that it's better not to go there. Sometimes, I decide that this is the truth, this needs to be said. I draw a deep breath, publish the post, and await the onslaught.

Not so many years ago, the latter would probably not have happened. I would not have risked offending the people I cared about. I grew up with the ability to change my identity to accommodate the preferences of the people around me. I didn't have much of a personality. My 'identity' was scattered throughout a collection of personalities I could put on and take off at will. I was terrified of disapproval. I was afraid that I would offend someone I loved and that they would reject me, so I tried to please everyone.

I'm sure I could find a reason to blame this fear on my parents or my upbringing or my culture or whatever, but the truth of the bottom of it all is that I was far too concerned with what other people thought of me, and not concerned enough with pleasing God. I allowed my fear of rejection to control my life. It was a big problem. And it was my problem. But years passed before I recognized my masquerade for what it really was.

I was in my teens before it occurred to me that my behavior was abnormal and very unhelpful. So, I set about trying to decipher who I was. I gathered up all the bits of 'the real me' that I could find, and pieced together a personality.

That 'me' has changed a little over the years as I've grown up and God has shown me more and more of who He created me to be. I have passions, desires, likes, dislikes that are mine, and don't change or shift, no matter who I'm with. But staying 'me' is hard work. I constantly have to check up on myself. I have to ask, why am I doing this? Why am I saying this? Why am I thinking this? I have to remind myself that my purpose is to please God, not people. 

God continues to put me in places where living authentically is incredibly difficult. I find myself in situations, in relationships, where I am, quite bluntly, a misfit. Some of my worst misfit experiences occur with other Believers. It is acutely uncomfortable. I cry out to God, "please! Let me escape! Take me somewhere else!" and He replies, "this is right where I want you to be." So there I stay. I smile, and try to find common ground, and keep my mouth shut as much as conscience allows. 

How, Lord, do I walk this line between living a lie and stirring up discord?

I am a peaceable person. I have no desire to create tension or convince anyone else to be like me. I merely want to be free to do what God tells me to do. I want my fellow Believers to feel so comfortable with their own, God-given differentness that they can be comfortable with my differentness as well. Instead, I feel a gentle, yet steady pressure to conform. I'm fairly sure that no-one pressures me intentionally. They are merely doing what they think is right, and the things I feel pressured to do are all good things.

And so sometimes, I begin to doubt myself and God. Maybe they're right. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I should just conform. Maybe I'm being too stubborn. Maybe, maybe, maybe... I give in, my identity gets lost in the shuffle of good works that hold no real meaning to me, that distract me from who I really am, and everything falls apart. I become depressed, frustrated, exhausted, and, eventually, repentant. 

I have to be brought back to the realization that my God-given passions and desires are just as important as anyone's.

If I deny the real me and become someone else, then who will be me?

I'm good at looking like I fit in...and people truly do care about me. I care about them, too. That's what makes it so hard to keep being different. 

It's really quite wearing, so much so that I prefer to stay cloistered in a safe place with a small group of family and friends. I don't want to deal with the pressure. But I can not, I MUST not allow myself to withdraw completely. God wants me to continue to participate with my Christian family, and to do otherwise would be disobedience to Him.

So I keep going. And a lot of times it's not much fun, but I have no desire to be all doom and gloom. There are some pretty great rewards... 

- There are people in this world who are comfortable enough with their own uniqueness to be accepting of mine, and I am fortunate enough to know quite a few of them. My value for these relationships can not be accurately expressed in words. 

- I am in a position to offer love, advice, and true empathy to other people who don't quite fit in.

- I have learned that I can trust, completely and fully in God. He is the Author of my identity. He knows me, He understands me better than I understand myself, and He and I are in this together.

- There are moments of affirmation. Sometimes people say, "thank you for being different. God's used you to encourage me." Those words come at moments when I'm ready to quit, and they help me to keep going just a little bit further. 

- Best of all, I've been given the opportunity to find out who I truly am. Not everyone is this fortunate.

So, with many stumbles and slips, but also with successes and victories, I walk the line of identity. 

I'm not brave. I'm not special. I'm just taking one small step at a time. But I walk with a vision. An Ephesians 4 vision. A 1 Corinthians 12 vision. A vision of the Body of Christ truly being a body. Each member doing their own part, living in harmony with all the other members, unique, different, yet unified. I have a vision of the Church, not as it is, but as it could be - undivided by barriers of denomination, prejudice, and misunderstanding - coming together as one body to give glory to God...just like Jesus prayed.

Perhaps, in my own little misfit way, God's using me to prepare for that day.

Lord God, help me to walk honestly and humbly with You in this journey. Please keep me from pride, from prejudice, from frustration. Thank You for giving me an identity and a purpose. Please show me how to build up the Body, and keep me from tearing it down. Please keep me focused, completely and truly, on obeying and honoring You and only You. 


What's God been doing in your life?

Please take note: This post was not meant as a condemnation of anyone. Rather, its purpose is to encourage my family in Christ to discover their own God-given talents, passions, and desires, and live them to the very fullest.