What is the Difference Between Fitting In and Belonging?

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I spent years disciplining my personality away.

Yes, self-denial in the face of temptation that shifts us from God’s plan is beneficial. Disclipling ourselves to avoid sinful actions and attitudes will help us from taking our lives down a path of brokenness. Sacrifice can be honorable; Abraham and Isaac come to mind.

But I sacrificed my truest self at what I thought was the altar of obedience only to find that I was being manipulated and moved by guilt to fit into other people’s mold for me.  I was motivated to fit in. When in Rome…

Fitting in is not the same as belonging. Fitting in does not bring peace or comfort.

‘Fitting in’ moves me to be a chameleon. It leads me down a road of plastic smiles and insecurity. To fit in I must be who you want me to be. I need to dress to please you. I must use your verbiage and I will laugh at all your jokes. If I’m going to fit in, I will need your approval. It compels me to wear a heavy backpack filled with perfectionism that keeps me from the letting the lifter of my head lead my life. I end up down a path that is shallow, empty and fruitless.

Belonging though, is freedom. It does not require me to meet your expectations, belonging only demands that I show up. I belong when I decide to be seen for who God created me to be. No longer longing for you to turn your head my way so that I can impress you, instead my hope is that in seeing me, you will see Him. When I belong, my heart is set on His approval, not yours.

I hope you let yourself be seen, even if you don’t fit the mold others have poured for you.

I’d love to hear about a time that you forfeited your own passions and plans to get the approval of someone else, and what you learned in the process. Let’s talk about it, leave me a comment.

I Prefer Nice People

I like nice people. They’re easy to get along with; they don’t stomp on your feelings by calling you a bad mom. They don’t eat your sandwich at the office or talk to your coworkers behind your back. They don’t tell you that you look nice on Sunday morning and then inform everyone in your Bible study that you dress like their Grandma.

Nice people are nice.

But then there are those others in life, there’s one in every office, family and small group. They are not nice. They hurt out feelings on a regular basis and make life miserable every five minutes they are around us. They get under our skin with condescending remarks about everything from the project we’re working on to the style of our hair. We don’t like them; we want them to go away. We wish they would move to Bangladesh or on really bad days we’d like them to be stuck in the woods with a pack of angry wolves like in the movie “Grey.” THAT would be awful for them, almost as awful as having to watch the movie, which was 2 hours past terrible. I’m a huge Liam Neeson fan and I still hated the movie.

Sadly, I have to inform you that we won’t have a life filled with nice people. The mean ones are out there and scouting new ways to make us want to curl up with a blanket and a gallon of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream while watching reruns of The New Adventures of Old Christine. Which never should have been cancelled but that’s another post.

The moral of this is that mean people are not going away so we may have to put on our big girl pants (unless you are a man, and in which case, please do not do this) and deal with it. You can’t wait for them to be nice to you; it’s not going to happen. Stop blaming them for your bad moods and hang nails. If you need to address a situation, do it. Be all Sally Field in Norma Rae and start a fire, but if your in laws or the lady in the choir are keeping you awake at night, it might be time to stop giving them that much power in your life. Let go of what you can’t control and don’t let their smallness make you small too. You’re better than that! You drive a (insert brand of car, and it really doesn’t matter what it is because cars don’t make us better people, but this is a rant so go with it)!

I can get 100 sweet comments on Facebook, but it’s the one negative one that spins in my mind like a gerbil on a wheel. Over and over until the squeaking makes you scream at your kids because they forgot to empty the dishwasher.

If we’re going to be happy and successful in this life we have to stop letting mean people take away our joy. They do not define us…unless we let them. The choice is ours. When we find our worth and value as a person, from the God who created us, we will not be so quick to forfeit our peace.

Dare to make today different. Dare to believe that you are loved and cherished by God and that He is right there with you. Don’t let feelings dictate your day.

C’mon girls (and guys), we got this!

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