Not Home Yet…

I love serving with teenagers.

More than that, even, I love that my husband and I have teenagers of our own.

But so often, in both cases, my heart just breaks when I hear these young people feeling alone, or left out, or different. I know that feeling. We ALL know that feeling. It is normal, and natural, and part of growing up; part of being human, even. But that doesn’t make it any easier to feel!

I have heard a lot of this from my young friends lately, and it reminded me of something I wrote several years ago- a note for my children about living in a world where they don’t belong. Since I shared last week about my gratitude for “my people,” I thought I’d share this tonight for anyone struggling through those inevitable seasons of not quite fitting in. 

(NOTE: Edited 8/28/17 in response to wise words from a good friend to hopefully be more encouraging specifically to teens wrestling with being in this world at all. Your life is SO valuable and you are not here by accident! Please hear my heart and reach out to me or someone you trust! There are brighter days ahead if you push through the darkness.)

 

I want you to know that there are days-

sometimes even weeks or months-

when I feel like I don’t belong.

Still.

And I’m a grown up.

I know you feel the same way, too. I am sorry you experience this- it is a lonely, sad feeling, and in the midst of it, you will begin to hear lies. The whispers in your heart will tell you that you don’t have any real friends, and that’s why you feel this way. You don’t wear the right clothes, you don’t have the right “toys” (i.e., iPad, phone, jeans, etc), you’re not smart enough or sporty enough or musical enough or good enough… and that’s why you don’t fit in.

You may find yourself wondering why God would leave you all alone.

You may even wonder why He would make you in the first place, just to leave you all alone.

But these are lies, sweet ones, and don’t you believe them.

You see, as I said, even as a grown-up I still feel that way, too. And despite what that voice may tell you, there is actually a very good reason we feel that way, and it has nothing to do with all those lies.

It’s quite simple…

We were not made for this world.

We feel like strangers here, “aliens” even, because this is not our Home! This is not where we belong. Our spirits were created for another world, and until we are Home, we will not completely fit in here.

There are wonderful things to be found in this world-

Love.   Joy.   Friendship.  Laughter.  Purpose.

These are glimpses of our life to come, sparkles of heaven that drift through the mist, encouraging us to run the race with perseverance, trusting that the finish line is more than just an end.

And it is SO much more!

But we are not Home yet.

When the time comes, we will run into our Father’s arms, join the angels in singing His praise, and the piece (and the peace) that is missing from our hearts will fall into place at last.

Until that day, though, we are to live as His children here on this earth. Don’t rush it. Know that He created you and placed you in this world for a purpose, to bring Light and Love in a way that only you can.

Know that’s it’s normal to not quite fit in- EVERYONE feels that way at times (sometimes even lots of the time). You are not alone.

Know that time and maturity will give you a different perspective on those experiences, and may even cause you to be grateful for how they lead you to lean into Jesus.

And in those times when we feel alone, we can trust that God’s Holy Spirit is with us always, teaching us, encouraging us, and reminding us of our way back Home, just as Jesus promised.

You will feel alone, like you don’t fit in. That’s okay.

I still feel alone sometimes, like I don’t fit in.

But we are NOT alone… Our God is with us!

We won’t always fit in, because we were not made for this world. However, we were placed in this world for a purpose…

So don’t give up. 

Make the most of this temporary home. Fight the good fight. Remain faithful even when it’s hard. Reach out to others so they don’t feel so alone. Make a difference.

And when you do,

Heaven won’t seem quite so far away after all.

 

Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.”     -1 Peter 2: 11-12, (The Message)

 

My People

You’ve heard it before.

“It takes a village to raise a child.”

The Church calls it being in “Community.”

My friend, Leah, calls it her “People”

You know the ones; the people who show up for you. The ones you laugh with, hang out with, and share food with. The people you see every day, or every week, or maybe only every so often, but regardless, you know they are there if you need them, and you would drop everything for them as well.

It’s my friends bringing me sleeping bags and air mattresses at 10:00pm the night before we leave on a family trip because all of ours have magically disappeared. Of course.

It’s another friend not only recognizing that schooling two energetic boys at the same time can often be counter-productive, but then offering to take one of them to her house for the day.

It’s my precious friend offering me the leftover food from her own surprise birthday party just to save me a few hours in the kitchen.

Or my other sweet friend who picks up my boys for a few hours when my husband is out of town, just because she knows I desperately need a few minutes to myself. (Even if it’s only to shop at Wal-Mart without my parade tagging along behind me!)

That same friend drops her kids off at my house, only to end up with our oldest daughter jumping in her car. She not only offers to take her grocery shopping with her, but uses the time to listen to her share- about life and faith and boys- and then pours godly wisdom from her mama heart straight into the thirsting soul of my girl. (I love you, you know that right??)

It’s that encouraging text when you need it the most, that smile and hug when you walk in the room, the belly laugh over something silly, and the tearfully whispered prayer with hands clasped tightly when the walls are crumbling around you.

I could go on.

I am so thankful for my “People…

Because I haven’t always had them.

I can remember several different seasons of life when I made an effort to BE that kind of person for others simply because it helped me not dwell on the fact that I had no one to be that person for me. At one point, I remember wondering what would happen if something happened to me or Jeff. Would anyone even show up? Who would bring dinners or pick up our kids?

I couldn’t name anyone for certain.

That was a hard season.

And yet, the Lord has ALWAYS been faithful to provide what we needed when we needed it. By giving us opportunities to reach out to others, He was also laying the groundwork for people who would, in turn, be there for us. And those lonely years planted seeds of gratitude that burst forth in thankfulness every time someone “shows up” for me. I do not take it for granted. I do not expect these acts of kindness, this unselfish thoughtfulness from my friends! I am astounded by it, melted by it, overcome each time it happens.

And I give thanks to the Lord, from whom all blessings flow, for my village.

My community.

My People.

 

“We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19