Best all around.
It was my senior year of high school, and I thought I deserved that superlative because I knew some of everybody, even the outcasts. But of course, Superlatives is a popularity contest, so you don’t win it for knowing the people who aren’t popular. In the present, I still find myself befriending the people no one hangs around. It seems like there’s this magnet inside of me that draws the outcasts to me. These friendships, by the way, have become some of the most rewarding friendships of my life. We’ve endured through each other’s hard times and celebrated each other during our accomplishments. But there was a time when I couldn’t see the good in all of that. There was a time when I thought I deserved a certain type of friend. I remember feeling slighted because I thought I was “good enough” to have “cool” friends. This was before I began to reap the benefits of those relationships. At that time, I was still sowing and all I knew was that I wanted something easier. It took me some time to realize that what was happening with me and through me had little to do with my personality, but it had everything to do with my identity and purpose.
Jesus was known to hang out with the untouchables of his day and the Pharisees called him on it, quite frequently.
In Matthew 9:10-17, Jesus was having dinner with some tax collectors [the equivalent of our present day bill collectors, whose calls we ignore and block] and sinners. The Pharisees asked the disciples why Jesus was eating with the sinners and tax collectors. And before the disciples could say anything, Jesus answered, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. I desire compassion and not sacrifice. I’ve come for the sinners, not the righteous.”
This passage gave insight to my experience with friendships. I realized that, popular people don’t typically need more friends. And “well-tribed” people don’t need more people to join their tribe, because they’re already surrounded. Who then needs the tribe? The loners and the outcasts. I know, “There’s a reason no one talks to them.” and “They seem weird.” so you wonder what you two would have in common. These are the thoughts we usually have about befriending outcasts or more generally, someone who isn’t “our type”. We often cling to people and things we can relate to, but on the flip side we find ourselves with a narrow worldview, unable to accept lifestyles or choices that don’t mirror our own. But one thing I’ve learned from experience is that befriending someone different than you gives you the opportunity to grow in patience, love and acceptance.
As humans trying to be Christians, we have the tendency to mark off things for our own pleasure and enjoyment, instead of seeing every part of our life as God’s property. For me, I didn’t want friendships to be my form of “ministry” or something that would require more pruning and growth. “At least let me choose my friends, God!” It seemed I didn’t have control of much of anything. God wants that part of my life as well, for His glory. Instead of holding on to who I wanted to be, I had to surrender to the design God fashioned in me. God gave me the ability to see the diamonds in the rough; the precious jewels that had yet to be discovered. These are my type of friends.
The only reason, I felt isolated was because I stepped into the world of a person who had been isolated. As my life aligned with theirs, I felt what it was like to not be invited, checked on or understood. But I was only isolated as long as I felt like I belonged elsewhere. You can either take what’s handed to you or you can work to create what you want. It’s like the difference between starting a business and becoming an owner of an already successful chain restaurant. If you join something that’s already successful, you have a ready made reputation and guaranteed clientele. But when you start a business, you have to identify your market, build your clientele, and you gain a reputation by the opinion of those who experience your product.
I said that to say that there’s nothing wrong with building friendships from the ground up. It’s not always easy but it’s definitely worth it. One thing I know for sure, is that we all have that something, that makes us different and separates us from the majority. Don’t be afraid to lean into that; It’s who you are. And you have the ability to surround yourself with others who understand and appreciate what you have to offer, by just being YOU!
I’d love you to share your journey of identity. Let’s have a Konversation.
Loving the outcasts for the Kingdom…