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.
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)