Misfit: Learning the Power of Never Fitting in

I think many of us at one time or another have felt like an outsider. We find ourselves in seasons where we feel like we’re on our own, that we don’t have that community that we all so desperately need. We want to be the main character of our story, yet we feel like we fade into the background. That’s the feelings we get as a misfit, a person set apart from others. Lately, I’ve been feeling like a misfit. Recently graduated from university, on the hunt for ministry positions, and making it by working with an after-school program. I find myself in a transition period, and that can be hard. I feel God calling me to something more, and more and more I feel that Greensboro is not my end destination. It becomes a not very fun cycle to get into, to feel like you are called for more and that God has a plan, yet it doesn’t seem similar to those around you. In an age of social media, we see updates from those around us, giving us the idea that everyone has it all together and that you become the outsider because you don’t have your goals realized yet. As I have been feeling these feelings and thinking about what it means, God has reminded me of misfits from the bible. God used people who didn’t fit in to do a great work. I think he wants to use you too.

I’ve been reading about John the Baptist in particular this past week. Here was a guy that would be looked as a very big misfit, falling into the full definition of a misfit, one whose behavior or attitude sets them apart from others in an uncomfortably conspicuous way. God used John, in Matthew 3:4-6 we get to have a great picture of him. “John’s clothes were made out of camel’s hair. He had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.  People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea. They also came from the whole area around the Jordan River. When they confessed their sins, John baptized them in the Jordan.” Here we have a guy with not a lot of hygiene care, who prepared the people for the coming of Christ. We see him fight against the religious people of his time, telling them to change their ways, because Jesus was on his way. He didn’t live in luxury because he knew that Jesus was more important than his own needs, he saw the needs of the people and pointed them towards Christ. He never took credit, he always directed others back to his creator. He devoted his life to this cause, and he died because of his passion. John was a misfit, and you can be a misfit too.

Set apart from the world.

Now I’m not saying for you to go eat locust and wear camel hair (though that could be the new hipster trend, if so, you heard it here first), what I’m saying is that the feelings you have about not fitting in are good. What? How could that possibly be a good thing? Well, I’m glad you ask. In Romans we have Paul tell us that we are to not be conformed to the world, but transformed by Christ (Romans 12:2), so these feelings of being different are a sign that you are headed in the right direction. In a world of consumerism with a heavy emphasis placed on the “me,” we are set apart by serving others and being a light in the darkness. One of the reasons I have been feeling like a misfit is because my pursuits are different from other people my age. I don’t find myself being content in a job where I can’t be pouring into the lives of others, I’m not content with partying on the weekends and forgetting what happened during the night, and I never want to miss the call God has given me. I think the same needs to be true for you. Why would we be satisfied with surviving when we could be thriving? Don’t fall into complacency that the world offers, enter into a life of meaning. Be a misfit.

Uniqueness shows the creative power of God.

In our children’s ministry, we have been learning about how creative our God is. Yesterday we talked about how God made you, to be exactly who you were meant to be. This is a difficult concept to have. It makes me think of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. You totally didn’t expect to see that example I bet (Muwhaha). God speaks to me through movies and TV, and this classic stop motion Christmas special is a great picture for us. In the special, we have a moment where Rudolph goes to the island of misfit toys (hey look at that!). We see all the toys that think they have a defect, and that no one wants them. We have a poor Charlie-in-the-box, a caboose with square wheels, and a stuffed elephant with polka dots. They feel unwanted and unloved, when all they want to do is make a child happy. The truth is, we feel like this. Hopefully you don’t have square wheels on you, but I know that many of us feel like we were made by mistake. Here’s the key thing to understand, God doesn’t make mistakes. God made you to be exactly who you were meant to be, and just because you feel like a misfit, doesn’t mean you are not loved. Last night I had a chance to pray for a student of mine that was feeling this way, and his prayer is not uncommon. Maybe you feel like you’ll never look like the latest cover of the grocery store magazine, maybe you don’t feel like you’re black enough to fit in with your family, or maybe you feel like the latest failure proves that you will always fail. I want to assure you, God doesn’t make mistakes, he makes people. You don’t have to look like her to feel valued, you don’t have to put on a show to “fit in” with your family or the expected behavior because of how you look, and your failure is a sign to try again. Be a misfit.

Don’t live on an island.

It becomes easy for us to say that we’re misfits, then stay together. That’s not the purpose of why you were made. You were made exactly like you are to reach others. At the end of Rudolph (yup, still using this example), Santa is told about this island and he immediately can think of where to take the toys. They all load up and head out, scattered around the globe to brighten the life of a child. Isn’t that beautiful? The same is true for us. We are misfits, misfits created to reach others who need to hear from us. John the Baptist reached out to those who were deemed unlovable and he loved them, he prepared the way for the savior to come. We need to prepare the hearts of people around us. Being a light can make all the difference. No one wants to embrace Jesus when the people who claim to follow him judge and spit hate at those who are imperfect. We are all imperfect, but we are all saved by grace. Don’t stay on the island, be a misfit.

misfit power

Maybe this felt like a series of rambles or maybe it spoke to you, it was just something I needed to talk about because I feel like you needed to hear it. I want to continue this conversation and concept. So many of us feel like we don’t fit in, and this can be hard. It can feel like an uphill climb when we face the mountain alone. I don’t want you to feel alone. Next week I want to talk about not fitting into the church world as a kid, I want to talk about my experience and the power of the church even when we feel like we don’t fit in. I want to continue this because it has been on my heart. I hope this spoke to you, and I hope it can speak to others. Share it around to those in your life, not to give me glory of any kind, I just think that there are people who desperately need to know God made them to be exactly who they are.

There is power in not fitting into the world around you, so be a misfit.

-Joshua Thomas

2 thoughts on “Misfit: Learning the Power of Never Fitting in

  1. While I don’t see myself wearing camel hair anytime soon, I definitely feel like I’m at this stage of life too. The post-graduation haze can be hard to wade through, and it feels like I’m just waiting for the next part. Thanks for sharing Josh- this is very timely.

  2. Found your blog on Community Pool–this is great. Your writing style is approachable and inviting, and this post is a great reminder that we don’t need to be exactly like everyone else!

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