Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Fitting In

My whole life I have struggled to “fit in.” I tend to be a wall flower at parties larger then 10-15 people, and I hate being the center of attention. I strive to fit in, to be not be noticed, to fade into the back ground, but yet I find myself in areas that I stick out, either because I excel, or because I’m different. I know that this isn’t an all together bad thing, in order to succeed at my life goals, I need to stick out, I need to be noticed.

I struggle with “fitting in” especially in religious circles. In High School, I was in a group where, as I got older and more mature, I felt I no longer fit in. I challenged the long held beliefs of the adults in the group and eventually left for fear of being condemned. I went to college and never found a fait community. I tried joining a church, and I went a few times, and even enjoyed it, but never meshed or connected, partly because my plate was too full. Yet at the same time, I felt something was missing from my life. I still talked about religion and God and still thought of myself as a Christian, but I felt I didn’t need to be part of a community of faith. I had people I would go to when I was struggling or felt the need to be challenged. As I got older, I found religion becoming a common topic of conversation among my friends and I, even, my non-Christian friends. I found that I was most challenged by them. Was it bad that that was my community of faith? I don’t necessarily think so, I was challenged and grew in my faith, but I realize that I didn’t do any challenging of other people’s faith, or bring them closer to God. So, I began again to feel like I didn’t fit in the Christian community, especially on focused on “evangelizing.” I wonder how I could possibly bring someone to know God when I struggled so much in knowing him. Through these struggles, I solidified a faith that made me fit in even less in the Christian community.

When I got to Grad School, I was almost immediately approached by a fellow student, who upon noticing that I wore a cross, invited me to be part of a Christian graduate student group. I hesitated, say “I don’t really like talking about religion.” But she kept pushing me and eventually, I ended the conversation, somewhat red in the face saying “Look, can’t we just agree to disagree?!?” I felt again that I didn’t fit in the Christian community. Then another friend convinced me to join a study associated with the same group. I joined the study, and I was assigned a prayer partner, who happened to be the leader of the study. She asked me what I needed prayers for and I said “understanding.” She pressed me at our first “prayer meeting” about what I wanted understanding about and I presented her with some of my beliefs that I developed over the years I was disconnected from a church. I was informed by her that I should be careful about what I say during the bible study. Naturally, I was annoyed, somewhat offended, but for some reason, I kept going back to the study, wanting to learn and be challenged by people who don’t hold the same beliefs as I do. I continued with the study for a year and rather enjoyed it, but still felt I was on the outside. Around the same time, I went in search for a church home, feeling mostly that I needed a place to make friends. I stumbled in my Church because I was able to play in the band, and I eventually got connected with the student groups (that is a topic for another day). Inside of my Church, I meet people who challenged me and then introduced me (a few years later) to a movement in the church called Emergent. I’m still learning about it, and I will probably post a lot about it, but I’m starting to feel that I have found a place I fit it…


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