Not Alone

Not Alone

I’m the weird one, the crazy one, the inconvenient one, the screwed-up one, the one who just doesn’t fit. There’s a neat little box right there with my name on it. Why won’t I stay in the box? Why do I keep leaking out of the box and making such a mess? Why can’t I just be like everyone else?

Being the odd one out is a lonely place to be. I thought that I was the only one who couldn’t seem to fit myself into the right box. I thought that I was alone–it sure felt that way. The crazy thing is, I was so busy trying to stay in my box and not cause trouble, that I didn’t notice how many other people don’t fit into neat little boxes either.

We’re not supposed to fit into identical little boxes with tight lids that conceal any hint of the struggles, the beauty, the sorrows, or the uniqueness that makes each of us who we are–image-bearers of immeasurable value to the Creator. All of creation is filled with extravagant variety that still inspires wonder every time I catch another glimpse of it. Why would the Artist who created such abundance turn the part of creation that He declared “made in His image” and decided that each of them should fit into neat little identical boxes?

But I believed it.

I didn’t fit anywhere. I wasn’t anyone’s idea of “what I should be”. I thought that even God wouldn’t want me until I fit into my box. I put a veneer on my box, hoping no one would notice that it didn’t quite match. I painted a fake smile on a mask and wore it to hide everything real. I tried to smother ever single spark of individuality that kept knocking the lid of my box askew.

I still didn’t fit.

I used to joke that if I got into Heaven it would be because I got let in the side door by mistake. I made a joke out of my most deeply held fear. Loss and rejection assured me that no one would like me if I was, well, me. I redoubled my efforts to fit inside that accursed box–until I couldn’t any longer.

Part of the reason why I was convinced that I was so desperately alone was because I never let anyone see the girl behind the curtain. When I dared to part the fabric ever so slightly and peek out, I found something remarkable–I wasn’t alone at all!

Neither are you.

I can’t put into words what the sense of relief felt like when I realized that it wasn’t “just me”. Other people had stories that were hard and complicated too. There were common threads in our stories, but each one was unique. Vivid tapestries told the tales and stood in sharp contrast to the blank little boxes.

Most importantly, I discovered that God wasn’t waiting for me to fit into my tiny box–He was waiting for me to throw it away.

You’d think that I’d be eager to do just that, but I was scared. The box made sense. It was small, predictable, and felt safe. Outside of the box was the promise of a tapestry of such beauty–just like all of the others I’d seen! Outside of the box was also a big, scary world where anything could happen. I tried to hold onto the security of the box with one hand and reach out for the tapestry with the other, but you can’t have both.

This post is the start of a new series here at Teish Knits. My goal with the Not Alone Series is to talk about the things that tend to stay hidden because they are hard, messy, or embarrassing. These things hold power over us for two reasons. First, because we think we’re alone in our struggles. Second, because when you’re busy trying to keep something hidden, you never heal. I’m not any kind of professional, so please don’t take anything I write as professional advice–rather the sharing of my own story so that maybe someone out there will feel a little less alone.