Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Fit for a King?

I have a very vivid memory of my first day of school in the 7th grade. I suppose the reason the memory is so clear to me is because it was the first day of Junior High, and that was a huge deal. For the first time in my life I’d be at a different school with kids I didn’t know. I’d gone to the same school from kindergarten through 6th grade and grew up with pretty much all the same kids. Living in a military town, a lot of kids came and went, but the ones that were either non-military, or from military families with a permanent station at one of the local bases were the ones I called friends for the past 7 years of my life. I was about to meet all sorts of new kids as the only Junior High in town was on the east side (across the bridge) and all 7th & 8th graders from my town went to that school. It was a scary and exciting time, to be sure.

So there I was standing at the bus stop. First time ever riding a bus to school, and found it odd that the bus stop was right in front of the grade school I’d just spent my whole educational life, until that day. I stood there that sunny September morning, feeling a mix of various feelings, when a girl I didn’t know came to the bus stop.

The first words out of her mouth were “nice jeans, where did your mom get them, K-Mart?” I had no idea that was an insult, and I cheerfully answered “yes!” I liked my jeans, and I thought she did too – until her and her friends laughed at me. Not the best way in the world to start my Junior High career, but it was that moment in time when first occurred to me that there is something about “fitting in” that human beings desire. I’m sure I didn’t think of it in exactly that way, but that was the day the process of thinking about it in a serious way actually began.

Well, oddly enough almost 30 years later (I feel old just being able to say that), that feeling of fitting in, or not fitting in is pretty much the same feeling it was that sunny morning so many years ago.

Growing up I never really did “fit in” the way other girls did. I wasn’t nearly as interested in playing with dolls as I was jumping my bike over ramps or going crabbing, or having a jellyfish war down on the docks. Either we had the kind in Puget Sound that didn’t sting (I could easily google that, couldn’t I?) or we were too dense to care. No one I ever knew got stung, so I’ll assume it was the former.

All through junior high and high school I never fit in there either. I had friends and acquaintances in all the cliques (more or less) but I was never really part of any clique myself. I was the type that preferred to have one or two close friends (still am) rather than be a part of a group. So when high school was over I just assumed that I’d get a job, make a life, and fit in somewhere, somehow. How silly I was.

So then, what does any of this have to do with practical Christian living, you might be asking? That’s a fine question and I think it just reaffirms that God calls all kinds of people. You might be outgoing or you might be shy. You might be a loner, or introspective, creative, clumsy, phobic, allergic, fat, skinny, black, white, male, female, widowed, divorced, balding, blind, childless, a pet lover, diabetic, young or old or somewhere in between. It doesn’t matter who or what you are, if you’re called to repentance and faith in Christ, God will direct your steps in the place of service He wants you. And here’s an added cool bonus – He’ll even place people around you, that are LIKE you, that you connect with and find great fellowship and friendship with.

I remember the first time I heard the saying “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips those that He calls.” Sure it’s corny, but I really liked it. It was comforting to me because as a person who doesn’t usually “fit in” it gave me a bit of hope that He might be able to use me too. Somehow.

Not only have the last 13 years of Christian living shown me that this is indeed true, but I've been surprised more than a few times to find out just how God did use me, usually in ways that I had no idea He was doing it. It's always a very humbling feeling to learn that somewhere among all the oddball things I say/write/create/do, that somewhere in there someone is blessed by something I did. It's a good feeling too, to know that you brought some amount of goodness and encouragement to someone who needed it, and God was 100% glorified in it.

I'll probably never fit in, in the worldly sense - and that's perfectly okay with me. As long as I keep fitting in (by His grace) in His ways, I'm happy.