Thursday, October 07, 2010

Different is OK.

I have never, ever done anything the "traditional" way.

I mean, isn't that, y'know, boring?

I'm a Christian woman. I love Jesus. I try my best to be sweet and giving, and I'm gleeful when God gives me the words to be funny. I'm passionate and enthusiastic and don't like hearing no. I'm often told to calm down. My emotions run deep. It's hard for me to be still and not lift my hands during praise songs. I'm also tiny, and I like to jump around when I get excited. If I can't reach something in the grocery store, I often climb up the shelves. This Sunday, I had to get up to the front to sing, but there was a cord blocking my path from where I was sitting in the pew. It was too high for me to step over, so I dropped to my knees and crawled under it. In my Sunday best. On Homecoming Sunday. Several times. In front of the whole church.

I do that.

When I was 14, I adapted and directed a group of my classmates in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. The local newspaper wrote a story on me. Emblazoned across the front page of the Sunday paper were the words DIFFERENT IS OK, with my braces-clad adolescent face smiling awkwardly underneath. I've been living up to that label from the time I decided I was done with being in the womb six weeks early to this very moment as I sit here typing.

I've always, perhaps naively, been happy to be different. I thought it made me unique. Noticeable. Maybe even special. (Like a 4'10" hyperactive girl with a head of bright red curls isn't noticeable enough.)

But the grown-up world full of much quieter churchgoing women who never seem to need to be told to calm down and who seem to lead wonderfully peaceful lives with husbands and children and houses and white picket fences...I'm not so sure. Being normal, being traditional, even, seems to be working out pretty well for them.

They seem like, much less trouble than I am. And I have to wonder...are they? Am I really just too much?

God has taught me so much in the past several years. How to react with forgiveness and love. How to give others the benefit of the doubt. How to reign myself in when all I want to do is lash out. How to go to Him for the love and peace that my fiery, sometimes turbulent spirit so desperately needs. He's taught me so much, and even more so, He's taught me that I'll never stop needing to learn how to be more like Him.

And yet, I'm still different.

I don't think I will ever be called benign. I might be shy sometimes, but I'm not quiet - at least, not for long. I'm sweet, but I'm not sure about docile. I'm never going to really learn how to calm down - at least not for any length of time. I don't think, much as I try, I will ever be a "traditional" woman.

But I will give everything I have in me to give. I will be gracious, and peaceful, and forgiving, and I will pour myself out for my God and my family and my church. I will not rest until I turn a frown into a smile, and then a smile into a laugh. I will never not be open, not be vulnerable, not be sincere. I will never withhold my love.

I just have to pray that that's enough...and that different is still OK.