The many ways of not fitting in

three blue birds together with one red bird to the side

image by Sean Lynn

I met a woman last night. I will call her Elena. She and her husband had been married for 44 years when he left her. He told her that he never should have married her and that marriage and children were just a facade so that he could rise in business and society. He had to do it because in 1967, if you wanted to get anywhere, you didn’t come out of the closet. For 44 years she had been nothing but a facade. Her grown children have abandoned her because they blame her for his leaving, evidently not believing what she says he told her when he left.

There are so many ways of not fitting in. Elena cried. She had been through a divorce recovery program, she volunteers and keeps busy but is still so alone. She told us that a person can be around lots of other people and still be alone. She wants to find a church where she will fit in. People have said horrible things to her because she is divorced. She has been a Christian all of her adult life and can find nowhere to fit. She wanted our prayers that she would find a place.

We had some conversation and then our leader said, “We hope you will come back to join us.”

We watched a video and the leader closed with prayer. Right at the “amen,” Elena jumped up and left quickly. I followed after her calling her name out in the hall.

“Will you come back?” I asked.

“No, I will not be back. Thank you, but I will not be back.” She hadn’t even stopped walking to answer; she was out the door before I could take a breath.

I think too slowly. I let her go. Should I have followed up? Should I have chased her down to say, I care. Talk to me? What did we say wrong? What did we do? Was it the video? Whatever it was, it was repelling. She couldn’t wait to get out.

There are so many ways of not fitting in. When I was a teenager, I went to church all the time but was not totally accepted because at school, I ran around with non-Christian wild kids. Those non-Christian wild kids thought of me as the prude, the virgin, the religious one but they accepted me for what I was and I enjoyed those years immensely. I was never quite as comfortable with the church crowd. I didn’t really fit in either place.

My grandmother always told me, “You are judged by the company you keep.”

“Well, you shouldn’t be!” I would yell back at her in my head, (never out loud.)

There are so many ways of not fitting in. How many Christians do not attend church because churches are filled with husbands, wives, children, and they do not wish to attend alone or they fear that they will be judged because their family does not come?

There are so many ways not to fit. How do we react when someone at church or Bible study expresses a view that does not fit with the mainline view, religious or political,  of the group? Here is one person who has had a good experience,, but I know many who haven’t.

There are those that deny God, Christ, and religion of any sort and no amount of goodness, inner beauty, peace, or love will change their view. Regardless, Christians are the face of Christ on earth. What others see in us should be attractive, not repelling.

Elena, we failed you, but wherever you are and wherever you go next, I will be praying for you and I am so sorry.


*For something else to consider, see this anonymous post regarding church, by a young adult with Aspergers.

10 thoughts on “The many ways of not fitting in

  1. I love your humble heart. It’s hard sometimes when people have been wounded… It didn’t sound like you did anything wrong… At least, you didn’t intend to. Sometimes when we are wounded, it is very hard for us to receive love in a way that feels right. It can be very scary, and our first reaction is typically to protect ourselves. Don’t beat yourself up. Regardless, I hope you find your girl.

    Cheers, mate.


    • I also have found that, sometimes church isn’t the place for healing. Some people need to be met where they are at… People need to feel safe where they are to let loose and express who they are without fear of being judged. A lot of times, a home can be the perfect place for this… To invite someone to lunch or whatever. Being in a church can be a very intimidating thing because people think they have to measure up to be good enough to be inside. Even if it isn’t our intention to create that type of environment people have that preconception. So… I think sometimes being a little more intentional and reach outwards to meet people where they are at can be a whole step forward for the church.

  2. Sometimes when you have been alone a ostracized for so long it is hard to think that you will actually be welcomed and loved again. You worry that if you open up and let them see you completely as you are that you will be shunned and hurt again. I have been there myself. You start seeing the cliques within the group and feel you will never be a part.
    Just keep loving them as a Christian should, continue to show your care and welcome.

    • I have been there in the past as well. That self-defense mechanism we have of closing up, sometimes closes us up to loving acceptance too. Your advice is wise, keep on doing what is right.

  3. It is the way our world appears to work, that on the surface world push away those who are different than we are. Most people accept this and incorporate it into their lives. I have many friends that choose only to be world either people who are like them.
    But I tell you, there are as many non-conformists as there are conformists. We fit ourselves often in many groups and blend well with others. The converse to that sort, though, are the few that feel they never fit in. They feel like perpetual outsiders among the common flow of people.
    From what I have learned, these are the people most worth knowing. Christ himself was like this. He not only didn’t fit in, his presence was a disruption to those who felt safe conforming to known established ways. He had 12 friends, who we call his disciples. A small circle, even by the standards of the time.
    Don’t feel bad if you don’t fit in. Some people never really do. Some people remain disconnected from those around them for their entire lives. But it is the outsider that we must learn to accept and embrace.

    God bless you.

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