Think back to your first day of high school. The night before you are full of emotions. You are excited but there’s a layer of fear that you just can’t shake. You call your friends up to see what they are wearing for the big day. You wished you had asked that just out of curiosity and part of general conversation but the question had different roots. Would you fit in? All of a sudden, the outfit you had picked out for this big day became lame. Now you are doubting. I am going to look like a dork? Sally is going to look so much better than me. If only my mom had let me buy that more expensive top!
You could hardly sleep. You’ve waited for this time in your life and now it’s finally here. Then the excitement started to be eaten away. Fear and doubt started to take over. The unknown became the reason you couldn’t sleep now! Will people like me? Will they laugh at my clothes? My braces make me look hideous! And of course a large zit has popped out. The end of my nose is now large and shiny, like Rudolph. Everyone will definitely see me coming! That’s not exactly the grand entrance I had planned to make!
We all know the feelings and awkwardness that goes along with trying to fit in, right? You know, doing whatever it takes, wearing whatever it takes and even talking a certain way to make sure we’re “included”. I wish I could say that fitting in was just something we did when we were teenagers but I would be lying to myself. We spend a lot of time doing this throughout our lives. If we didn’t then there wouldn’t be a market for trendy clothing, haircuts, and diets!
More goes on inside of us than simply getting someone to like us when we are trying to fit in. Comparison, hiding and losing sight of who we are can take over.
“But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.” 2 Corinthians 10:12b.
Fitting in says we have to be like them. We have to do what they want. We have to keep our needs and desires quiet. Fitting in means I look at myself only through a lens of comparison to others. Where do I stand according to their requirements? Do I have what it takes? Am I pretty enough? Thin enough? Smart enough? Funny enough? The list can go on and on. I compare me to them. Comparison feeds the lie that I am not enough and probably never will be. Comparison says that I must work harder.
Comparison leads to not understanding who we truly are.
Fitting in keeps you from knowing who you are. We are constantly trying to be what someone else wants of us (even if we don’t know what that is or are just assuming we know). As long as we are doing that we will hide who we truly are. We will lose sight of the person God made us to be. We will forget our own beauty and uniqueness. We will think the real me is just dumb and unlikeable.
The more we try to act like another, the less we can be ourselves.
Embracing who we are because of God’s love and grace gives us freedom to belong instead of fitting in. Belonging is different than fitting in. Belonging says, “I love and accept you.” Belonging is such a gift and it doesn’t require us to change. It allows us to be who we are and to be loved for it. Belonging leads to true friendship and relationships. Love and grace bloom there.
I encourage you to think about your relationships. Where are you belonging vs fitting in? Do you see the difference in your posture when you’re around those different relationships? Have you experienced the true freedom of belonging? It can begin with your relationship with Jesus. He is not asking us to fit in with Him. He’s not asking us to change. He loves you no matter what you are wearing, no matter what size you are and no matter how smart you are. Sometimes that’s hard to believe and understand, I know, but it is so true.
I would love to hear your thoughts on belonging vs fitting in. Feel free to leave a comment and we can discuss this further.
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