Don’t despise your differences

Hey all,

A few updates:

  1. I got a job!
  2. Cross stitching is coming along like crazy.
  3. On the whole, emotionally and mentally I am feeling worlds better than I was at the start of the year for about 90 billion reasons. Thanks Jesus!

The rest:

So, on occasion, I’ll get into these moods that I call “funks.” They’re usually triggered by something like being overly snappy or rude to someone I care about or going out places I don’t fit in for long periods of time. After the triggering event, I start feeling bad about myself (I’m such a jerk, I don’t fit in, why am I so weird, etc.) and then for a day or two following, I fall into this weird, overly critical, cyclical sense of despair. I avoid family and friends, find flaws in just about everything I do or am, sometimes cry, and generally just mourn over not being someone different.

Within the last week or so, I’ve been in a minor funk. I don’t remember a specific trigger this time, more a vague sense I don’t belong. Part of it has been a series of occasions on which my weirdness has been specifically pointed out, another part the fact that when compared with “normal” culture, I don’t seem to add up. This has been exacerbated by an increasing number of “normal” milestones for people around me, events which either seem impossibly far away or, perhaps more eerie, undesirable on the whole.

This sense of weirdness has been something that has plagued me for ages. In school I was practically broken up with by my best friend in kindergarten. It happened again in seventh grade after years of not keeping up. I jumped around a lot socially after that, feeling either like a novelty to be thrown away or an outcast broken from birth. I had a major breakthrough in my sophomore year that helped me find new value in myself through Christ and also helped me find the friends I have now, but even with that, I still feel weird. When I write, it’s hard to find markets. When I dance, my approach is different. I’m neither a girly girl, a hellcat or the girl next door, and just in case you think I’ve only felt or made up these differences, you’re wrong. I’ve also been told they exist.

“Normal people don’t have that problem.”

“You’re not most people.”

“You’re the weirdest person I know.”

Have these call outs always been bad? No, of course not. I’m often complimented or praised for my differences, admired for being unique.

Does this mean it hasn’t been hard? No, absolutely not.

See, I am different, and I don’t always fit in, and as much as I enjoy or even pride myself on these differences some days, other days it’s just hard. There’s incredible pressure to fit in and a natural desire to belong. It can be hard out here on the fringe. Some days you just want to be “normal.”

Except, God hasn’t made me to be normal, nor has he done that for you. He is infinitely creative, a God who desires to do something new (Isaiah 43:19). Just look at the variety of the world around us. The millions of species out there. Is that not enough proof to show we don’t have to be all the same? Worse still, why should we want to be? If He made me unique, shouldn’t I want to explore that? To see just how personal and unique He can be?

There are two great quotes from C.S. Lewis I’ve been exploring while trying to stave off this funk. The first is a quote from Aslan in  Prince Caspian: “Things never happen the same way twice.”

The second is longer, from his preface to The Great Divorce.

We are not living in a world where all roads are radii of a circle and where all, if followed long enough, will therefore draw gradually nearer and finally meet at the centre: rather in a world where every road, after a few miles, forks into two, and each of those into two again, and at each fork you must make a decision. Even on the biological level life is not like a river but like a tree. It does not move towards unity but away from it and the creatures grow further apart as they increase in perfection. Good, as it ripens, becomes continually more different not only from evil but from other good.

In context, Lewis is speaking about choosing good or evil, how in the end, we must choose one or the other, but the line that has most stuck with me is the last one. “Good, as it ripens, becomes continually more different not only from evil but from other good.” It’s an idea he explores in Perelandra and That Hideous Strength as well, that the goodness of something can change depending on context. For example, if a sheep were to try to live underwater, it would be considered bad for the sheep, because it would die. It’s not meant to live underwater. For a fish to try the same however, would be natural and good for the fish because that’s what it’s meant to do. If either were to try to live in space, it would die, because they both need oxygen to live. If one gains oxygen through water and the other through air however, neither option is better or worse. It just depends on the species. I think the same can be said of people. Yes, certain things (like rejecting God) are always bad. Others (like someone’s ministry calling) can be dependent on the person. C.S. Lewis expounds on this idea (and the converse, in which all bad narrows into one) elsewhere, though the location escapes me right now. Point is, if I am different from you, that’s not a bad thing. It’s how God made me to be. And in fact, to compare myself to others would be for this sheep to wish to be a fish, an unnatural desire leading to unhealthy or deadly behavior.

Something God has really been speaking to me lately has been “Don’t despise your differences.” I’ve been struggling with feeling like a weirdo, and He’s really had to come in and remind me just who I really am. Different and beautiful for it, I am God’s creation. He knows what He made me to be. If I’m a sheep, keep me out of the water.

3 thoughts on “Don’t despise your differences

  1. Kim March 24, 2014 / 6:43 am

    Great job! I love the sheep/fish analogy. Sometimes I think we are our own worst enemies, or I should say I am my own worst enemy. I think I set up what I think is normal, and fall short of my own expectations. I have to consistently — “rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for me.”

    • brainnoms March 24, 2014 / 8:36 am

      Thanks Kim! I think we can definitely get in our own way. I tend to have societal standards for what I think is “normal” and feel bad when I don’t meet those. What’s weird is that a lot of the standards I don’t meet in my funks are things that I don’t want or care to meet on a regular basis. It’s very strange!

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