Marie Reavey, UK
Over the years I have often felt as if I don’t fit – that I’m different; and this in turn can sometimes lead me to feeling isolated from my church family. I sometimes find that it’s too easy to look at others who appear to be in with the in crowd, and who have lots of good friends who they hang out with; I find that this can especially be true within the church.
I have found that these feelings can sometimes create within me a desire to withdraw and to not to be so involved with kingdom activity; and I have been surprised to find that as I talk about this issue, many other people express that they have at times, felt the same way…that they don’t fit! People from a variety of settings and contexts – people I wouldn’t have expected to feel this way – expressing these ideas of feeling on the outside of things.
I have come to believe these feelings of isolation have their root in a great lie from the enemy, to stop us from being effective personally and effective corporately. Such feelings are powerful and can lead to people leaving their church or (alternately) staying, but passively so. These feelings of being overlooked are powerful and potentially defining and can direct us to isolation, to passivity or even to be becoming divisive. As with many of Satan’s schemes, there will be an element of truth in these thoughts and experiences and so we must learn to turn to the truth of God’s word. We are all unique, fearfully and wonderfully made. We are each of us different, and this is a good thing – life would be so dull and boring if we all thought, dressed and behaved in the same way. God has made us who we are, to do the good works that he has called us to do.
I have found that those in a place of leadership of any kind, find that it can be a lonely place as we carry a calling and a burden for our situations that others just don’t have (and maybe don’t even understand). And yet despite feelings of isolation and loneliness at times, we can know that we are never actually alone – God’s word to us on this point, is simple.
Be Strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deut 31:6
For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own. 1 Sam 12:22
And of course there is Romans 8:31-38, and Matt 28:20, declaring without reservation that we are inseparable from the love of Christ, with Jesus himself declaring that I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Prov 18:24 acknowledges the struggle we sometimes have with one another: One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Friends may let us down and people may not connect with us regularly; and of course this hurts and feeds the loneliness and isolation that we feel; and yet Jesus knows what this is like and so he will never leave us or let us down…to the end of the age! Isolating seasons provide for us an opportunity – to discover new depths of intimacy with Jesus but also to extend grace to our friends and church family, remembering that they will also have experienced such seasons too.
If you currently feel as if you don’t fit, can I encourage you to connect with someone you trust, to talk and to share your burden; but ultimately to seek Jesus for fresh revelation and a fresh encounter that will help you to keep going where you are. Jesus calls us to follow him – unreliable friends were true in his life, they will be true in ours and so in such seasons we must decide whether to submit to our hurts or to find healing in Christ; and in so doing, to follow the one who also never quite fitted in.