“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.“(1Cor. 13:11)
Everyone matures at different rates. A 40-year-old adult may act like a teenager, and conversely, a teenager may act like a 40-year-old adult. It all depends on your emotional state. What you have learned growing up and what you have been exposed to or adapted to, play a major part in your development and maturity. I was a child long after the age of a child. Even today, I am emotionally and spiritually immature in a lot of ways and sometimes feel as if I do not fit in.
Being an only child, I learned to create my own world. I had imaginary friends and a fairy-tale kind of life. I pretend to be the best singer or athlete; I pretended to be famous or successful. I pretend to be popular and liked by many. But it’s not reality, it’s a fairy tale, and when you’re a child, it’s acceptable and even normal at times. However, when you grow up, it becomes a problem.
I remember trying out for things and not making it and feeling disappointed. I remember asking girls to “go with me,” and getting the note back with the “no” box checked and feeling rejected. I remember trying to fit in and be popular in school only to be turned away and made fun of. Fitting in seemed so easy when I spoke it and thought it as a child. But, when I grew up, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.
In high school, there was a girl in my class that was beautiful, sweet and had a smile that would light up any room, and she also was very popular. She sat at the lunch table with all the popular kids. At the time, she didn’t know me. In fact, none of the people that sat at that table knew me, but it was my dream to get a seat at that table. I was unpopular and unknown at the time. I mean I had a few friends, (I wasn’t a complete loser) but my friends were unpopular and unknown just like me.
My desire to fit in and be popular was so strong that I had to figure out how to get there. I devised a plan–a plan to get the popular girl in my class, to not only notice me but to accept me and then hopefully invite me to “the table.” I observed (not stalked) her for awhile and realized she was struggling in the class we were in. I also knew that the girl that sat beside me in that class was excelling. She was making A’s on all the quizzes and tests.
My plan was to help the popular girl make better grades in the class, and in return, get the invite to “the table.” I got up the courage to mention it to the popular girl and put the plan in action. I would look to the girl beside me to get the answers to the tests and then, signal the answers to the popular girl across the room. Like 1 meant A and 2 meant B and so on… We did this for a while and the popular girl started to make better grades and so did I. In fact, we had to purposely put the wrong answer sometimes, so the teacher wouldn’t get suspicious. It didn’t take long for the popular girl to know my name, and she began to say “hi” to me in the halls, and eventually, she invited me to “the table.”
I remember the first time I sat down there, how excited and nervous I was. I had made it, I had arrived. Now, all I had to do was figure out how to be like them, so I could fit in with them. The popular people at my school were into sports or cheering but they also liked to party, so I began to party as well. At the time I had a Volkswagen Fox (similar to a Jetta) with tinted windows, “hammer” style rims with low profile tires and a boomin’ system. My car was pretty popular, and a lot of the time was the lead car in the convoy, heading to the party of the night. My dad traveled quite often, so a lot of times the party was at my house. We lived in a fairly big house with nice toys and things, including a hot tub on the back deck, so… yeah! I was becoming more and more popular even though I was quiet and shy because I had created a world filled with lies and false identities, in order to fit in with the people that I wanted to be like. It was very similar to what I had created when I was a child, but this was real life, this wasn’t imaginary. There would be severe consequences for trying to fit in where I didn’t belong. Years of suffering and pain were coming my way, and I had no idea.
As I reflect back to that time in my life, I realize that what I really was searching for was an identity. I didn’t know who I was, so I tried to be someone I wasn’t. Most of my life I have searched for an identity and a purpose. I believe we all have a purpose. We all have a role to play that is unique to us that no one else can do like we can do. We need to stop trying to do what someone else does and be ourselves because everyone else is taken. God made us so that we could fit in a certain place, at a certain time, and in a certain way that no one else could.
Have you ever been trying to put together one of those big puzzles with all those little pieces, and your patience is running out because you’ve got this one piece that won’t quite fit where you want it to fit? You start to press on it and beat on it and eventually, you cram it in there. Now it may not look good. It may be jacked up and bent out of shape, but it’s in there. If you bang on something hard enough, you can make it fit somewhere it isn’t supposed to fit. But if it isn’t supposed to be where it was forced to be, eventually it will pop out. And that’s what happened to me. I popped out, and now, I’m trying to be who I was created to be, by putting away childish things and becoming a man.
(Do I have any popped out people in here?)
Have you tried to fit in with people that you wanted to be like but you popped out? Maybe people tried to put you in a box, in a category, in an environment, in a place that you didn’t belong, but you popped out!
It’s okay to not fit in. It’s okay to pop out. I tried to fit in with a lot of people and a lot of places before I discovered where I fit. Every piece in a puzzle fits in one specific place. Discovering where you don’t fit and what your not, will help you discover where you do fit and who you are.
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