One of the hardest things I find in life is that when we feel like an outsider, we feel like that makes us unimportant. For a majority of my life I have thought like this, that because I wasn’t like the average dude, I was somehow less important. I think for many of us this becomes the way we view our lives. We see the lives others are living and ask ourselves why can’t we have that kind of story, why everything for everyone else seems to be so easy. We look at our lives and the choices we’ve made and wonder if we can ever make a difference, if our stories will ever leave a mark on the world around us. So many of us have made mistakes, don’t fit into the norms of the people around us, and we can feel like we are unimportant to creating an impact. I’m here to say that this is so not true, the enemy wants to twist your mind and make you believe that you aren’t important. You are important. Your life has value. The thing we must always remember is that God made you in his image, meaning that he is calling you to something greater. While you may be feeling like a misfit, this means that you are different and that you are pivotal to the greater picture.
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 struggling with anxiety and depression over the past few months. I’ve been so afraid of the future and the path I will take over the next months after school. The stress of trying to finish well but not have a clear direction after this season scares me, it makes me feel like I am failing at my purpose. All I desire is to write words that will inspire others and serve the next generation in ministry, but the path is so unclear and that’s what makes it so difficult. That’s the reason I need Christ more than ever. It’s the reason we all need Christ more than ever. This past week I was worshiping with my brothers and sisters and received prayer of encouragement for this struggle I’ve been facing. After this I prayed with Matt the artist. I call him this because he truly thinks in abstract ways like an artist, and we prayed together in an abstract way. We prayed to look for the moment of origin for anxiety, and when I found it, he asked me to now put God in that situation. Everything changed. You see, Matt the artist helped me understand that I can’t go about things on my own, my foundation needs to be focused on my savior. Our focus needs to be on the foundation of our life.
Culture is all around us. We are exposed to each of our cultures on a daily basis; the messages and ideas are thrown at us constantly, and we don’t even pick up on all of it. It’s so ingrained in each of us that these messages don’t even phase us anymore, things become normal. In our normalcy we become numb. I bring up this idea of culture because I study culture at my university. I am a communication studies major (not communications, you’d lose a hand if you said that to any of the professors), and in this field I am able to look at how messages are communicated to each other, and culture comes from this communication. A culture is a way of life of a group of people–the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication. Culture influences us, culture changes the way we think and culture has us accept things that they are normal, but we are weird. When you become weird, you can never go back to being normal.
“And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”
Life can be really tough. We go through many trials and things we don’t understand, and if we’re honest, it’s hard to see the silver lining in everything. I know for me this is a hard concept to grasp. God tells us in scripture that he will use all things, but that idea of “all things” isn’t always the most joyful of times in our lives. I love that quote above from Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, because it is a picture of how God uses the tough times in our lives. You see life is full of blessings and good times, but it is equally filled with turmoil. The word turmoil means a state of great disturbance, confusion, or uncertainty. I think many times in our lives we are filled with disturbance, confusion, and uncertainty. Yet in all of it we can have triumph in the turmoil, because our God has already conquered the world, so we can stand strong through it all.
We have all been made unique. Each of us have talents and skills that are unlike anyone else. It’s pretty amazing when you think about it. All of us are made in the image of God and each of us are individuals. Over the past few weeks I’ve been writing about being weird, how following after Christ truly sets us apart from the world. That makes us weird. It’s weird to pursue a relationship with an incredible creator, it’s weird to show love to everyone because of the love shown to us, and it’s weird to serve others in an authentic way. This is a passion of mine, to tell everyone just how special they are, and just how important their role is in the kingdom. Today I want to speak to you on a deep level, I want to tell you something that is very important in your walk with Christ. You are super.
Ahh yes. Love is in the air, the Valentine season is upon us. This time of year is always fantastic in my family. My parents were married on Valentine’s Day and each year my dad gives my mom a decorated heart shaped box, our house is filled with them and it’s a beautiful sight to see. This time of year is great but it asks a question, what is love? (*cue the song “what is love” by Haddaway). We talk about love and loving things, but what does it mean to have a real love? Last week we uncovered the fact that we all have potential weirdness inside of us, meaning that we are in the family of Christ and that means we have been set apart. Part of being weird is an understanding of what real love is and what that looks like. The best part is, we don’t have to wonder what real love is. In children’s ministry we have been looking at love and our memory verse encapsulates what real love is. In the NIRV (one of the most down to earth bible translations) 1 John 4:10 says, “Here is what love is. It is not that we loved God. It is that he loved us and sent his Son to give his life to pay for our sins.” Real love is Christ dying for us.
I’ll never forget the first time I read a comic book. My dad and I were at my grandparents’ house, where he found an old box of comics that he had as a kid. The first one I read was The Amazing Spider-Man #132, “The Molten Man Strikes Again!” Pretty exciting stuff. I remember reading that and loving it, Spider-Man was a hero who stood up for people even when he faced terrifying villains (even though we’ll probably never see Molten Man in a movie). From this moment I knew I wanted to stand up for people, wanted to reach others for the kingdom of God. My parents always showed my sister and I the power of God in their lives, which in turn we were able to see the power of God in our own lives. In my life I have learned to view the world through this lens, a lens that says I can be a hero and that I can make a difference. That’s not normal, that’s weird.