When I was four-years-old, my class made Christmas decorations from clay.
Every person made a snowman. I made baby Jesus. He still hangs on our tree.
I reckon it was from the age of 11 that I started to notice the differences between myself and others. I was more outspoken, opinionated and “particular”. My interests often diverged from that of my peers. This chasm of doing things differently only widened throughout my teens. And I became obstinate in it.
I couldn’t stand how my classmates homogenised themselves into the same beige soup and I longed for the camaraderie of friends that cherished contradictions. I hung out with the “fat girl” and the “ginger girl” (I was blonde then). We labelled ourselves “The Misfits”, everyone else called us weirdos.
I refused to ‘fit in’ and yet, I was not confident in the slightest of who I was.
As an adult, through uni and my twenties, this partially improved. It was easier to find like-minded personalities and people judged you less for whether you were doing the same things as them.
Yet it still felt as if I needed to maintain a careful balance of being who I was and who others expected me to be.
Being a Christian only makes this more difficult. Non-Christian friends often mistake: a desire for celibacy as a lack of sex-drive, disengagement from drama as a lack of caring and attendance at church as an imposition on your life.
You’re seen as ‘a bit weird’!
Knowing God made me and loved me for who I was didn’t really ease the heartache of this, or help me to feel any less awkward, but it did help to validate continuing to be myself.
He literally tells us not to conform:
Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit… This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes. Romans 12:2 TPT
And being different is what allows us to stand out, to be the salt and light that brings out the flavour and colours of the world.
If we don’t stand out, if we don’t challenge people’s thinking, we can’t possibly make an impact on the world. Jesus commands us to go out and make disciples of nations. Our difference, our ‘weirdness’ is what makes them sit up and take notice.
It wasn’t until last year, at the grand age of 35, when I found myself in a community of extreme diversity that I finally relaxed into my weirdness. Freed from the nervousness of acceptance, I created wonderful connections with everyone and fully engaged in my present to achieve far more than I could have imagined. Basically Romans 12:2.
So keep your eyes on him and keep doing you. Being you, is enough. The creator of the world made you, and he made you a little bit weird.
Written by Lindsay Gill (Hope City Newcastle) as part of the SHE IS Collective Blog Series