The first party was anything but fun. I shopped for hours, worried about what to wear. I kept trying to guess what they would be wearing. What will help me blend in? What will they like? They love to comment on people's style. I finally found the perfect ensemble, one I thought they'd notice and appreciate. Yes, I was disappointed when they loved everyone else's outfits, but never noticed mine. Still, I felt good, so I let it slide.
I smiled and tried to join in their conversations, asking questions and making small talk. They'd answer quickly and turn back to each other, making me feel like an outsider. The minutes ticked by like hours, as I sat politely, watching these people I'd known for years ignore me. It was such a relief to finally leave, not having to rack my brain about what I could do to get them to accept me.
Several weeks later, I attended another party. I was nervous about going, the feelings from the last gathering weighing heavy on my heart. I was greeted with smiles and warm hugs. They asked me to sit at their table, and we talked. When they noticed I was quiet, they'd ask me questions so I could join in. Their comments were warm and accepting.
As they talked, I looked around the table, amazed at the acceptance they'd given me. I barely knew them, yet they made me feel like I'd been a part of their group forever. It felt good. It felt comfortable. We laughed and chatted for hours, none of us wanting to leave. It was wonderful.
I learned something very important that day.
Belonging is much better than fitting in.
For years, I had wanted to fit in with a group of people, trying to be something I wasn't so they'd accept me. I dressed differently, kept my opinions to myself, and sat quietly while they treated me indifferently.
Then I found a group of people where I could be myself and they appreciated it. I belonged, and it felt good.
It made me wonder why I spent so much time trying to fit in with that other group. It wasn't worth the time and worry I gave it, especially when there are people out there who make me love and appreciate who I am.
I'm a happy-go-lucky, hard-working, fixer-upper, encouraging, church-loving girl who loves creating, cooking, and giving. I'm not perfect, but I'm beginning to love the way God made me.
What about you? What's one thing that makes you uniquely you? Have you found a group where you belong?