Born to Stand Out

I was born to stand out. And only within the last couple years have i actually become ok with it.

Growing up I used to feel so odd and out of place. I grew up with four brothers and five boy cousins that were basically my brothers. I barely interacted with girls until eighth grade when I was stuck in a classroom full of girls. I used to beg God to change me into a boy. I did not want to be a girl.

I thought I didn’t fit with the girls. I was too loud and energetic. I didn’t care about clothes or hairstyles or shoes. I was a tough kid who was fiercely independent and protective. Snakes didn’t scare me. Neither did spiders. I didn’t care about guys or having crushes. I would rather be out playing football or climbing trees with the guys than sewing or cooking or other things that I thought of as “girly” things.

I’m sure that sometimes my mom despaired of me ever being careful with my clothes. I was constantly getting grass and dirt stains, and tearing my dresses. Part of me rebelled against the what I viewed as a typical girl from the church I grew up in. I viewed girls as weaklings who were only there for others to use. That had been my experience. So I tried everything in my power to rebel against that. But at the same time I wanted to fit in.

I got tired of being known as the tomboy who was rough and tumble. The girl who never cried or had sad emotions. I was told I needed to be more serious. People thought I had no problems because I was happy all the time.

I got my first job when I was thirteen. I delivered papers. I was the only girl in my church that worked at that young. I had dreams and I pursued them with a passion. I became a CNA when I was just 16 and worked thru my senior year of school.

When I was 18, I started looking at colleges in order to pursue my dream of eventually becoming a paramedic. I was told, “Don’t go to college. You’ll lose your faith. They’re too liberal. You’re a girl. You’re to weak to go to college.” So, I decided to go to Bible school. Since, apparently that was acceptable for a Mennonite girl.

At Bible school, I did have a lot of fun. But once again felt very out of place. Girls accused me of being a flirt and being too friendly with the guys. I spent hours agonizing over this and went on long walks with my friend who was being accused of the same things. We’d spend hours walking and talking. We also asked one of our really good guy friends what he thought. It was one of the hardest, most awkward times in my life. I was glad to come home again.

After that I moved to Canada to be a schoolteacher. I loved that job! I loved my students! Once again I didn’t fit. I was a schoolteacher whereas all my housemates were involved in other ways and not with the school at all. I never knew what my role was outside of school. School days were my happiest times. When I left there, I was more upset about leaving my students and my co-teacher than my housemates or anyone else.

I moved to Pennsylvania next. I bounced from house to house, family to family, church to church. But God started working on me, showing me that it was ok to stand out and not fit in. {Plus He was radically changing my heart and setting me free from tons of garbage that had accumulated in my heart.}

Then I started enjoying not fitting in. People would ask me, “What church do you go to?” And I’d answer, “Several different ones. Petra. Life. A house church. Shenandoah. Myerstown Mennonite.” It just depended where I had an invitation. That would frustrate people so much tho because then they had no box to put me in. 🙂

Eventually I moved back to Oregon, where I started college, pursuing my paramedic dream. But even there I didn’t fit in. Only now I was ok with it. A born-again, skirt-wearing, head-covering Christian girl attending an extremely liberal community college? Yeah. I didn’t fit. 🙂

Now I work as an EMT. I go to a small community church. I attend college. I volunteer with Molalla Fire and Mountain Wave Search abd Rescue. I have an amazing Papa God and a crazy amazing life.

Even though I still feel like I don’t fit in, I’m mostly ok with it.God uses my standing out to make people ask questions. It’s all good. {However, I am still human and some days I long to fit in and not be noticed for being different.}

i guess I write this all to challenge you. Be yourself. Don’t be afraid to stand out. It’s really ok.

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