Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Fitting In

The other night at Bible study a conversation arose about the many cliques and social groups of middle and high school. Some people remembered those days fondly, while others (like myself) didn't find the nostalgia all that pleasing. All of us, however, saw fault in our younger selves for placing too much emphasis on "fitting in" back in those days. That got me thinking about how little fitting in means to me now, and then I realized that it actually doesn't mean that little. Quite to my surprise, it still means quite a lot. Sure, college might have gotten rid of such rigid groupings as The Jocks, The Popular Kids, The Nerds, The Preps, and The Rebels. But those are just surface definitions, anyway. The point is, the drive to fit in still does matter. It still influences college students...and if I'm not mistaken, probably adults as well.

I suppose it's just a natural human drive to want to fit in. Of course, it's a little hard sometimes to know exactly what one means when they say they want to fit in, or that they don't fit in at all. I would say that fitting in is just a sense of commonality or belonging, but I've found that even when I have those things I don't always get the sense that I'm "fitting in" with a particular group of people. Something about me always makes me feel a little bit like an outsider.

The clearest example is my inability to "fit in" with modern Christians. Everyone knows that I'm a Christian. I try to wear my faith on my sleeve as much as possible (heck, I wear everything there nowadays). But I've found that doing so does little good, for my faith is very modest, reserved, and quiet. It's very non-emotional at times: a friend described it as "businesslike." I'm not one for contemporary Christian music and I prefer philosophical/rational language to traditional religious language any day. I'm uncomfortable with the phrases "I got saved," "he/she got saved," "we win souls for Christ," etc. etc. I mean, I know people do get saved, and I know that evangelism plays an essential role in that, but for some reason putting it that way makes it too simple, too ready-to-be-mocked.

I'm not one for religious billboards or movies or those little kitsch paintings showing Jesus in the clouds watching over truckers below (I've seen one, I kid you not). I don't wave my arms in the air when I worship. I don't put Bible verses on my Facebook profile. You get the picture. In short, I just don't fit in with mainstream Christians. I don't feel the need to do all the things that many of them do. Don't get me wrong: I love my Christian friends. They're probably my closest friends, for having a relationship with Christ is probably one of the most essential points of commanality, surpassing any and all trivial differences.

Yet even with a lot of them I just feel like an outsider sometimes. I don't think it's my homo-ness that does it (though it could contribute a little, at least with the guys). I think it's just my nature. My personality has a tendency to be aloof and not altogether warm (remember my results for that personality test?) I guess that just sets me apart sometimes. Maybe it doesn't matter, though. I know I'm filled with Christ's love. I just think I express it in a different way than most, and I'm grateful that "fitting in" is not a requirement for salvation. Peace out, everyone.

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