By Cathie Ostapchuk
Last week I experienced the FONFI = ‘the fear of not fitting in,’ and without realizing it, found myself subtly trying to change my language, my look, my essence to fit what I thought this group was looking for. It was refreshing to know I was comfortable in my own skin after I realized that the pressure to conform, to be invited in, to be liked, to be one of the crowd, was just an invisible external distraction that took my eyes off my own unique path.
Have you experienced that? I heard from a woman in another province that she felt like she was trying to fit into a perceived inner circle and wanted to know how she could crack that barrier. So many times we feel the pain of trying to be ‘in’ whether we have small or large spheres of influence, and that insidious reminder that maybe we don’t really belong captures our waking moments.
You cannot, and should not EVER try to be all things to all people.
When you try to be relevant - change a little here, a little there to fit in to the ‘group,’ to speak the speak you think people want to hear, to sound wiser, or look younger, hipper, or more profound – just to be in the imaginary ‘circle,’ you actually diminish your impact, and your ability to steward your service is watered down.
You become irrelevant when you are not authentic.
Your relevance comes from your relationship with your Creator because He tells you who you are and whose you are. His Triune Circle is the only place you will ever truly be at home anyway. Just be yourself. Mind your business. Keep your head down and your hope anchored up. Maybe He is calling you to invite others into your circle. The misfits. The marginalized. The unlovelies. The beautifully broken.
There is a stunning relevance in that sacred space of belonging. It reminds us that Jesus pitched His tent among us and became one of us without asking us to clean ourselves up and be better version of ourselves before He said “Come, follow me.” Jesus Himself felt the pressure to fit in, to conform, to do the things people wanted Him to do: to go here, to go there – on His followers’ timetable - to heal everyone all of the time and even turn the children away so He could focus on bigger platforms. His clarity of purpose and identity was heard in His words from John 12:49 -
“For I’m not speaking as someone who is self-appointed, but I speak by the authority of the Father himself who sent me, and who instructed me what to say.”
There was never any question in Jesus’ mind as to what to say and how to say it so He would be accepted. His relevant ‘speak’ came from His relationship with His Heavenly Father.
He reminds His followers in John 6:38 “For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will”…and perhaps we could imagine the added words, “and not to do what people expect me to do.”
Just be yourself. Some will love you. Some will hate you. But everyone else is already taken, so embrace the call and crafting on your life. There will be times you need to go solo but if you are not concerned with everyone liking you all of the time, it will free them up to follow you. Head down. Hope anchored up. Go well.