Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Fitting in

Okay so here are just some random musings about something I've been thinking about lately: where do I fit in?

I've been noticing more and more that we as humans are really into labels: "I'm a Republican/Democrat, Conservative/Liberal, Protestant/Catholic or Non-denominational/(insert denomination), stay-at-home mom/working mom...and the list goes on. The interesting thing about labels is that each label conjures up some sort of image or stereotype based on the majority (or at least the most outspoken) of people wearing that label.

Using the random labels I just listed, I guess I'd be a semi-conservative Republican Protestant going to a non-denominational Christian church and I'm a stay-at-home mom. But I don't really feel like I fit in with a lot of people with those same labels. When it comes to politics I am adamantly pro-life/anti-abortion--that is my primary reason for voting Republican. However, I am a bit more socially/economically liberal than probably most of the people labeling themselves as Republicans, so I don't really feel like I fit in very well there. I don't fit in with the liberal Democrats so well either because of my strong stance on abortion, as well as the fact that I disagree with some of their ideology/values/methods. But I DO appreciate their commitment to health care, helping the poor, and humanitarian leanings.

As for my "religion," I believe that God sent His son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for my sins, and for yours. I believe that I am saved by the grace of God through faith in Christ, and that on my own I am nothing but a sinner. I believe the Bible to be the true Word of God, and I gratefully, humbly and wholeheartedly wear the label "Christian."

The funny thing is that sometimes I don't feel like I really fit in with some of the Christian culture. I'm not sold out on the Elizabeth George books (shhhh, don't tell!), and it makes me sad that the church in America right now seems to have such an inward, individualistic focus: my relationship with God, my daily quiet times, my prayer life, these are the only things that matter. At least, I always have, and I always got the impression that that was how it was supposed to be.

The reason this trend in the church (well ultimately in society I guess) makes me sad is that in order to love Jesus and love others with the love of Jesus, we have to get outside of ourselves. Ephesians 2:10 tells us:

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Okay, so when it comes to being an at-home-mom, I don't "look" like most moms either. I'm 24 with three children. Two of my children are from Ethiopia and don't look a thing like me (well my daughter doesn't look much like me either, sadly!) My sons are part of two cultures and two worlds. Now so are we. Our family is what they call a "conspicuous family": you can tell we are "different" just by looking at us.

So all of this to say that I am just plain weird. :) There is still some small part of me that is stuck in high school, wanting above all else to "fit in" somewhere. But for the first time in my life, I really don't!

There is something surprisingly freeing about not fitting into a label or stereotype perfectly. It keeps my true identity and true purpose at the forefront of my mind: my true identity being a daughter of God, and my true purpose is to follow after Christ. As Psalm 139 says, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made." I never have to have an identity crisis because I am loved by a sweet God who has some sweet plans for my life.


shells said...

I will be weird with you, as a 27 year old soon to be mother of 5. Too bad we live thousands of miles apart, we could be weird togehter!
Thanks for the encouragement, that who I am in Christ is more important then if I fit in.

Anonymous said...

So true, it's great that you know that your identity is in Christ. It's also good that you don't totally feel like you fit in here since our true home is in Heaven. We're not supposed to fit in. -Tanya

Shana said...

Well said!

By the way, if it were up to me, I probably would have had three kids at 24 also. But, here I am, 28 in three days, and still working hard for our second child. It is just a reminder that God has a perfect, individual plan for us all!

dharmamama said...

As a vegetarian, Buddhist, homeschooling, transracial adoptive family member, soon to be with an HIV+ member, I must say that I completely empathize. I have never fit in in my entire life. Sometimes it really bugs me, but for the most part I just accept that I am me, not like most other people, even though I will probably never know why.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this entry. It is right on! Now we know how John the Baptist felt! The best place to fit in is the family of God and is found in 1 John 3:1 - "See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him." This is the only true label that matters!

Thanks again for your passionate entry!

Avery said...

Yep, Yep.

Now trying to be a big tattooed, long haired biker PASTOR married to small petite hippie chick with two blonde haired kids and adopting two from Ethiopia and lets remember that we live in the segregated Bible belt of the south.

Yep, Yep.

I've linked you from my site, you can see my blogs, although they are more of rants and ravings than updates on the adoption, http://thebeaversaredead.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your insight! You may be wierd, but you're all so darn cute! Not that it's the most important thing-but it's fun!

Having a son with a disability often feels conspicuous. It's good to realize that we need Christ and we aren't OK on our own. I long for heaven when we won't have to worry about silly things!

Have your read Blue Like Jazz? I just finished it and really enjoyed his fresh perspective on Christianity.

Dawn said...

I some times think that this feeling of not belonging is what our Lord felt on this earth too. And that maybe this not belonging is because we really do belong else where with HIM. The longing for heaven and HIM. Thank you for this post sister. ;-) You are a sweetie,wish we could go to the same church. We would shake em up! ;-)


Rachel said...

Gosh Brianna, Just reading the comments shows what a blessing this blog is to others! It is so exciting to see how teh internet connects people from a million different walks of life.

Renee said...

I just loved this post! I was "amening" you all the way through!

My dh and I joke that we have always been the Black Sheep of our families.. We have 8 children (3 of whom are from Ethiopia-well wee baby boy is almost home!), we are vegetarians who grind all of our own wheat (for some reason this makes people think we are REALLY weird ;o), we are homeschoolers, dh has a prison ministry and is in his last year of Seminary, we drive a big 15 passenger van..

Not quite what our parents dreamed for us. It's the life that the Lord has called us to though and we would not want to be anywhere else.

I often think He initeionally puts us where we don't fit in so we never stop relying on Him and realizing that He is the friend who sticks closer than a brother!


Lara Laity said...

Brianna - You are beautiful. I am honored to be called your friend.


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