I’m afraid I may be just ever so slightly given to paranoia. A friend sent me an email this morning asking to speak with me in person, and I immediately knew it was because of the awful thing I’d done. Problem was, I couldn’t decide which awful thing that might be. I made a frenzied mental list of all the ways I’d potentially hurt, offended, or otherwise sinned against my friend, our church, and humanity in general for the past week. I don’t imagine that this type of response to a friendly email is normal, but it’s normal for me.
The thing is, I’m kind of a black sheep. Most of the time I don’t care– you might even say I embrace it– but sometimes, like today, it really gets to me, and that’s where the paranoia comes from: No matter where I go, I don’t quite fit in. I never have.
When I was a little kid, I used wily seven-year-old subversion to steal extra time in the writing corner, crafting story upon fanciful story while the other kids went about their regular classroom activities exactly like they were supposed to.
When I was a teenager, I loved to perform in my high school’s dance group, but when all the other girls changed back into their polo shirts and khaki mini-skirts, I was the freak– literally, if you remember your mid-90′s social terms– in the vintage tank tops and plaid old-man pants.
When I was in college, what felt like the entirety of my co-ed dorm rushed their sororities and fraternities while I smoked a clove cigarette, went to a ska concert with my lesbian pal, and wrote a scathing essay about the purchasing of friendship.
When I was a much too young mother, I tried play centers, MOPS groups, and the PTA and felt older women’s eyes brand my age on me like a scarlet letter.
And now even at a truly Christ-centered church filled with loving, accepting people, I sometimes still feel like the black sheep. I attend without my non-Christian husband– which makes me different from the vast majority in the first place– and I also bring my five children alone, which makes me look like the village whore. When I finally suck it up and go to a women’s Bible study, I am prone to getting feisty and foul-mouthed. And then, I write about it all.
So when a friend wants to meet up and talk, I get worried, because no one likes a black sheep. Except that’s not entirely true.
I went to the Bible this morning, mid freak-out, to see what Jesus had to say about it, and I read the Parable of the Lost Sheep. And when I got to the part where the man finds his one lost sheep out of the 100, I cried. Because Jesus said he laid it across his shoulders and rejoiced. He didn’t kick it and say, “Get back with the herd, you reject!” He picked it up, he carried it– he held it close to his own body– and he celebrated.
So I guess I’ll take being the black sheep, even if it means not fitting in. Because it means I get carried with joy.
Have you ever felt like the black sheep? Where have you found people or places that you fit in?