As long as I can remember, years before social media gave us the ability to see into others’ lives, I have felt as though I was on the outside looking in–never quite fitting in with those around me. There have even been times when I’ve felt this way around my own husband and children, not because they’ve done anything to make me feel “less”, but because it was the truth I learned to believe about myself before they were ever my family. As I have lived life with my beautiful, hardworking, mature, multi-talented daughter; my handsome, self-confident, naturally gifted at every sport son; and my gentle, humble husband who has earned 2 masters degrees, is loved by everyone who meets him, and is incredibly gifted; I have felt like I’m the only member of our little family who doesn’t have something truly amazing to offer. Like there isn’t anything about me that stands out.
It’s as if I have been waving a giant flag, with the word “unacceptable ” written across it, as I have been making my way through life.
Often, it is the opinion that others have of us that form the opinions we have about ourselves. Those things that have been said–or left unsaid–can cause us to believe that we aren’t capable. The spoken and unspoken disapproval, the harsh words, and the sarcasm that have been fed to us for years become who we are. They settle into our souls, becoming our truths. These others-imposed truths cause us to constantly scan the horizon, desperately fighting for the approval of those in our view and striving to fit in with those around us.
It is only when we take time to evaluate ourselves in light of God’s Word that we discover the truths we need to believe about ourselves and should shamelessly present to those around us. When we focus on what others think of us, we shape-shift and turn into chameleons, only able to move forward if we don’t question what we are being told or how things are supposed to be done. When we live this way, we are not being true to scripture’s bottom line or to the individuals God intended us to be. At best, we find ourselves walking into a room with well-coifed hair, carefully chosen clothing, and mentally rehearsed words that portray a person who feels at home and appears to belong. In reality, what is inside of us looks more like a homeless man curled up in a corner on a cold day, dressed in layered rags, with nowhere to call home.
6 Truths to Remember When You Feel Like You Don’t Fit In
1. Both the world and the church often dictate to us what will make us acceptable. The world’s standards often revolve around characteristics that are mostly superficial, such as income, background, education, outward appearance, or current fads. Similarly, the church’s standards may revolve around programs or ideas that dictate to us how we are supposed to serve God. Each generation, believing that the prior generation was deficient in how they “did church”, comes up with what they feel is a better method. They tell us how we are supposed to show up. The wording and ideas may change from one generation to the next, but it’s all the same in the end. It is all man’s interpretation of how we are supposed to “do church”.
2. Instead of looking at those around us and evaluating ourselves by what is going on in this particular day and age, we need to look inward and evaluate ourselves in light of God’s Word. As I am getting older, I am learning to put down my “unacceptable” flag and to pick up the Sword of the Spirit–the Word of God. It is then that I discover God’s truth: I am here to be my unique, God-glorifying, Holy Spirit-controlled self. What makes me different reveals exactly who I was created to be.
“…take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times, with every kind of prayer and petition. To this end, stay alert with all perseverance in your prayers for all the saints.” Ephesians 6
3. The sooner I embrace the truth of who God says I am – a member of his family and adopted by Him, acceptable because of Christ’s death on the cross, one who has purpose and a gifting, and one whom God wants to use to further his kingdom and bring Him glory – the sooner I will be satisfied to live out my calling, seeking only his approval rather than man’s.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9
“He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” Ephesians 1:5
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
4. If who I am fits into the latest trends of the world or the church, that’s okay. If it doesn’t, then I can still be confident in my calling and in my Christ-given identity. All of those feelings of being unacceptable, not fitting in, and not having much to offer, can be conquered forever. The lies of our past, the lies that are fighting for attention now, and the lies that will fight for your attention in the future, can all be silenced with these words:
“You alone created my inner being. You knit me together inside my mother. I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this. My bones were not hidden from you when I was being made in secret, when I was being skillfully woven in an underground workshop. Your eyes saw me when I was still an unborn child. Every day of my life was recorded in your book before one of them had taken place.” Psalm 139
“I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:9
“For with only a penny you can buy two sparrows, yet not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. As for you, even the hairs of your head have all been counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth much more than many sparrows!” Matthew 10:29-31
“God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” Romans 12:6-8
5. We are unconditionally accepted and loved by the Savior who was rejected, beaten, and scarred by the majority: the ones who forced him to carry the “unacceptable” flag. We were made for Him and by Him. Coming to the realization that you don’t fit in is, in reality, the best place to find yourself. You were never called to fit in–not into the world and not into the church. Put your fingers in your ears, and refuse to listen to the enemy when he whispers that you have nothing to offer, that you are unacceptable, and that you aren’t capable of much. No matter the external source of those lies, Satan is the one lobbing every fiery dart!
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age…” Ephesians 6:11-12.
“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Ephesians 6:16
6. When you immerse yourself in God’s Word, you will be reminded that you are called to become more like Jesus, not more like those around you. Be confident in, and learn the truth found in, the scriptures. This will enable you to recognize the lies and reject them immediately. The enemy will exploit the lies you believe to achieve his own destructive ends; he wants us to curl up in the corner like a homeless man on a cold day, layered in rags, with nowhere to call home. The reality is that we are children adopted by the God of the universe, and that our home is found in Him. That homeless man has no place in our souls, because he does not represent the truth of who we are in Christ.
That flag – the one propped up in the corner, begging to be picked up so it can declare to you and to the entire world that you are unacceptable – you can confidently carry it to a flag burning party as you celebrate your calling and identity in Christ!