Do you ever have those feelings that you just don’t fit in where you are? It can be in just about any situation. I suspect that just about every person who has been at something they really enjoyed and felt they belonged in, when that opportunity isn’t there anymore, you feel somewhat lost and out of place everywhere you go. I also think living in a time of pandemic, social turmoil and anxiety all around us, makes us have those feelings even more. Recently a friend was talking about going to church and saying that he felt totally out of place. He had stayed home and worshiped online with the church for some time during all the Covid scare and now being back with the people and not seeing many of the people he had expected to see, probably contributed to his feelings. After visiting with him, I began thinking how many times in recent months I’ve just felt like I didn’t fit in. Have you been there? A teenager was talking about school and sports recently and made much the same comment about things just didn’t seem right. With masks, screens and a no-touch mindset, he said he felt like he was in some strange horror movie where everyone was afraid of you in some way. What in the world are you to do when you don’t feel like you fit in where you are?
The answer often is to just move on and try to find that spot where you feel accepted, loved and appreciated. But it is often the case that life doesn’t offer you that option. If you are feeling like you don’t fit at your job, you could quit but what if you can’t find another job that pays anywhere near the same after you leave? If you are a young person in school or college it may well not be possible to switch places or go to a different school. A parent was recently explaining why she had decided to homeschool her children. She said that one of her children just didn’t ever feel accepted at the school she attended and came home depressed every day so she decided to homeschool all of her children. I wonder what will happen if the time comes when they don’t feel like the fit in there. There are certainly times when we need to move on, change the environment and find a place or situation that fits us better.
Consider the example of Barnabas, Paul’s partner in preaching the gospel. They had shared the preaching in Antioch and then responded favorably to God’s call for them to go out together on the first missionary journey that took them to lots of towns, villages and cities preaching the word and lots of churches were established in the process. After they came home the learned that some false teachers had been following them around, even to Antioch to try to convince every convert that if they really wanted to be right with God they needed to be circumcised and obey the Old Testament Law. They together went to Jerusalem, where the false teachers called home, and defended their work, telling of the great signs God had shown them that they were doing right and were truly on mission for Him. After Jerusalem they returned to Antioch and delivered the message that God accepted them as they were and they didn’t need to be circumcised or keep the law. But a day came that had to have put Barnabas into a challenging situation. Paul asked him if he was ready for them to go back and visit the churches they had established and see how they were doing. Barnabas was ready, even excited about the thought. He had an idea that he thought would make the trip even more rewarding. “Let’s take Mark with us. He will be helpful and be a blessing to us.” I think he was shocked at Paul’s response. Paul would have none of the carrying along John Mark with them. He had forsaken them the last time and he didn’t want to take a chance he might do it again. I suspect Barnabas, and likely Mark as well, if he knew Barnabas was making the request for him, felt completely shocked, and like neither of them fit in anymore.
The result was that Barnabas took Mark and went in one direction and preached the gospel to the people and Paul took Silas with him and headed in a different direction. As time went by they seemed to have rebuilt their relationship but there was never another time when Barnabas would partner with Paul. Life changed completely for both of them. Certainly God used it to get the gospel to twice as many people as each went to different people with the gospel.
Consider our options when we don’t feel like we fit in anymore. We would examine ourselves and our attitude and see if we need to change some things in our own life and thinking so that we can fit in, and find joy and peace again. We could look for new opportunities and places to serve in the same place and take on a different role and find peace of mind in it. We could try to find that place where we do fit in and go there to serve. We could humbly bow before God and seek His will for us. Instead of just seeking the place where we fit in, what about looking for the place we can feel certain God wants us to be. It may be a way for us to grow stronger and more useful in God’s service for us to stay where we are and deal with the feelings of not fitting in. It may well be that God will use those very feelings as a means of reaching others who are struggling with the same feelings.
Think about it. Don’t you suppose Jesus felt out of place when he left heaven to be born of the Virgin Mary and to live on this earth for 33 years? Can you imagine the difference between living with God in glory and living in the home of Mary and Joseph in Nazareth? I suspect it became even more challenging when all the brothers and sisters arrived on the scene. What a difference it would be to have been the creator of the universe and now to dwell in a house with poor parents and a house full of children running all over the place. But he made himself at home in that world. Thank God He served, worked alongside his step-father and was a great older brother to his brother’s and sisters. It certainly must have felt strange to head out into his ministry where foxes had holes, birds had nest but he didn’t have a place to lay his head.
So, not feeling like we fit in, may not be a bad thing. There are tons of places in this world where a Christian shouldn’t fit in. Often it is how we at in those times and situations that we feel strange in that determines how well we do in leading others to Christ in this world. Let’s live and be the kind of people that won’t ever feel completely like we fit in. until we reach the home with Jesus in glory. That will be the place and time when we can fully relax and be at home.