I walk into the room and the same feeling of dread washes over me. Taking a seat, I try to appear more relaxed and at ease than I feel. I’m telling myself that I’m part of the team so I belong there.
I repeat: I belong. I belong. I belong.
But I don’t. Every fiber of my being knows it.
There’s not an exact difference I can place my finger on but I can feel it.
I plead with myself to relax, settle, and be confident. But nothing changes.
I’m not better or less than the women in the room — I’m just different.
Sure, there are marked differences like the fact that they all have children and I don’t. They were all born and raised within a hundred miles of each other and I wasn’t. They were brought up within this type of thinking and I wasn’t.
Still, I belong.
But I don’t.
I’m afraid that I come across arrogant or demeaning or demanding or contrary or lacking in just about every way that’s important to the other women in the room.
I want to run away, hide, and let the tears flow. But I can’t. I must sit, listen, and pretend like I’m supposed to be there.
Nothing changes as the meeting progresses. In fact, the feeling amplifies as my nervousness forces words out of my mouth that seem to widen the gap.
What did I just say and how did it sound to their ears?
I admire and love the women that surround me. They were present at some of the darkest moments in my life. They may not have heard my cries — we have never had an intimate friendship — but they loved me as best as they could. They demonstrated faithful compassion that I thought was dead.
That faithfulness revived me. It helped me to believe again.
But as I sit among them, I recognize that I’ve never really been one of them.
They’ve accepted my presence and they even love me but I’m not one of them. And I never will be.
This feeling penetrates deep into my being. I feel all that is lacking within me. I want to apologize for not being what they want or need.
Slowly my brain begins to remind me that I’m not there to fulfill what they want or need. I am who I am and, although there’s always room for growth, it’s not their measuring stick that I grow according to.
A day later, I still feel the sting of un-belonging. I’m still aware of my lacking what they seem to require. A longing to find a place among them pulls at me.
Yet, I know who I am and to Whom I belong.
I have been faithful — not perfect but faithful — with the task given me. Those who were placed in my care have been loved and challenged with their own growth.
I was brought to this place for many reasons but it was never for permanency. My home was never meant to be found here. As much as I want to feel at home among these beautiful people, it was never meant to be and I must accept that.
I was cut from different cloth — not better cloth — just different.
Deeply, I wish that they could understand how frequently I praise the Lord of them. I worry about telling them because I’m afraid my words would come out jumbled or arrogant or demeaning as they so often do when I’m anxious. Instead, I’ll accept my un-comfortableness and continue to praise God for them in private. Yes, I’ll still strive to love them to the best of my ability — knowing that they may not really understand me.
But that’s okay. Because we’ve learned to accept one another. Love one another. Share with one another. It’s not always comfortable – but it’s helping all of us grow.
If you’ve made it all the way to this part of the post, thanks! I know this is a very different post for me. It’s actually sat for more than a year in my “Drafts” folder. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share something so raw.
I’m a teacher by nature. I enjoy sharing learning (and sometimes awesome things I do, see, or find). This post doesn’t really have any great insight and there’s nothing I really want to teach. It’s just how I’ve felt for more than time than I care to admit.
So, thanks for reading my feelings. Thanks for sticking with them long enough to read this. If I’m honest, it feels as if there’s a lot of posts out there that talk along the same thread so I appreciate you reading this one.
Do you ever feel this way? What have you found to help the situation? Are there any great books, blogs, or podcasts teaching about how to overcome this feeling (without finding a new place)?