taken from flickr
by Dawn Kratzer
Let me paint you a picture. I am 4'11, covered in tattoos, I have multiple piercings, and I have cerebral palsy (meaning I walk funky). This is what you see when I walk into a room. Most people stare or do a double take and there have been a few rare occasions when people have slowly walked away. Worse, some have taken it on themselves to tell me that I'm not going to amount to anything or even that I'm evil. Evil?! Based solely on what they can physically see! However if you took the time to get to know me you would learn so much more about me.
One big part of my life is that I am a Christian and have been for almost 20 years. It has been an interesting ride for sure, lots of highs and an equal amount of lows. Through my journey, I have had to wrestle with the question of 'How to be Christian, when I do not fit in?' The answer: You CAN NOT possibly please every person that might have an opinion on what they might see, or how they 'could' make it better. To be honest it has been something I have just recently started to work through--for most of my life I tried so hard to please the people that were in and around my life.
IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT WHO WAS IT THAT JESUS HUNG AROUND WITH? WAS IT THE PEOPLE THAT HAD IT 'ALL TOGETHER'?
In grade school and high school I didn't know really what to think and believe. I was saved at summer camp, and I was happy and excited. However, when I got home my faith was pushed aside because I was the only Christian in my family, so I kept quiet to fit in. When I went to college, I did the exact opposite. I agreed and often said I understood or believed certain ideas when in reality I did not understand what I was agreeing to. I only did so to fit in. The irony was that no matter how much I did not understand, I somehow was able to make it through one of the most academically challenging schools in Canada.
It was not until I arrived in Alberta, Canada, that doors opened for things to change. It was a time in my life where different doors began to open. At first I fell into a 'role' of people pleasing, afraid of overstepping or making a mistake. Eventually I started to experiment and to see how far I could push. Boy, did I push. I will admit I pushed in ways and did things I am not necessarily proud of, but I truly believe it was a step I needed to take to find a ' happy medium'. What I mean by finding 'happy medium' is this: how could I keep my Christian values yet be able to do my own thing, have my own opinions, likes and or dislikes (not realizing that this was normal and/or ok, but I had been scared to do so, afraid to be the one to fall out of line.)
Why fit in when you were born to STAND OUT!
As I started to allow myself to fall out of line, I saw different reactions from different people, around me. Some people understood what was going on, and some people didn't understand at all. In each case there were reactions... some were excited, but most were of worry or frustration. Both reactions were a vital part in shaping me into the person I am slowly becoming: A person who is ok with having different views, a person who doesn’t let what every person thinks of me define me.
The question, 'How to be Christian, when I do not fit in?' will always be a question that will bring struggles to many if not most people. If you think about it: who was it that Jesus hung around with? Was it the people that had it 'all together'? Not even a little bit! He spent his time with the tax collectors and prostitutes, the ones that society looked down on.
So being different and not fitting in is not a bad thing, if you think about it, it means you are truly in good company--the best in fact! Just remember that this extremely challenging question has a super simple answer: you can not and will not be able to please everyone, do not try, trust me it is exhausting. Just be yourself, be true to you and to others around you, growing at your own pace. Be honest, be humble and people will see who you are, and it will be awesome!
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