April 2, 2022
The struggle to fit in seems to be common to the human condition.
No matter our physical, racial, sexual, relational, economic, social, employment, zip code or any other ‘fitting in’ criteria that might be out there, ‘fitting in’ is a struggle for everyone.
The ’fat’ struggle to be skinny.
The ‘skinny’ and ‘puny’ struggle to become ‘well-endowed’ and muscular.
Those who feel either racially inferior or superior often try to establish their value at the expense of all others.
Those who feel their sexual identity is threatened (be they straight or LGBTQIA+) often either wither away in despair at the prospect of never fitting in, or become militant in the extreme trying to force a fit.
Those unsure of their relationships jump through hoops and/or climb over obstacles of perceived (or real) expectation to secure their desired status a the perfect fit.
Those who feel their self-worth is defined by bank accounts, promotions, and yep, even preferred parking in the company lot, sacrifice all else to ‘fit in’ at the top.
This human struggle can overtake life itself; perhaps a reason that the 1974 Harry Chapin song, ‘Cat in the Cradle’ still resonates 48 years later and why some identify with the 1990s movie (and novel), The Devil’s Advocate; both are examples of the price to be paid in the human struggle to fit in and ‘succeed at life.’
The consequence of the struggle is readily apparent: the physical (ulcers, heart attacks, addiction), racial (discrimination and resentment over injustices as well as ‘special status’), sexual (banning of books, marginalization of groups) relational (one relationship just a stepping stone to the next).
The struggle to fit even has consequences for the world writ large: think of the environmental impact and humanitarian cost involved in the manufacture of some of our status symbols that we think will help us fit in.
What if we were to let go of the struggle?
What would that do to our psyche?
What if, by choosing to no longer work to fit in, we feel we no longer have a place to be? A group with which to align? A status to hide behind when we feel unworthy?
Such thoughts (and others I am sure you can identify) can be terrifying. So we continue to participate in the struggle.
Yet, where has the struggle has gotten us?
It seems we are less healthy, less, connected, more violent and marginalized, and have less to show for all our hard work and social climbing that ever before.
All of this came to a head for me during my devotions the other day.
I have an icon that I have used for the last 20+ years to help me center during my morning times.
It is Andrei Rublev’s Icon of the Holy Trinity:
There are many interpretations of this icon.
In my interpretation, the figure in the center is God the Creator (the tree behind the Creator being the Tree of Life in the Garden).
The figure to our right is God the Savior/Redeemer (holding the shepherd’s crook and seated in front of either Mount of Transfiguration/Mount of Olives.
The figure on our left is God the Comforter/Empowerer (the building behind the Spirit being the church).
In this wonderful icon, the Trinity sit at table; all heads bending toward the center, framing the cup.
The communal cup.
The cup waiting to offer the nourishing sacrificial love, forgiveness, inclusion, and empowerment of God to anyone willing to accept the divine truth that everyone – even I, even you – ‘fit’ into that open space at the table.
Regardless of who we think we are, who we think we are supposed to be, who the world tries to insist we be, we fit here at table with God.
The table is open to each and all of us because God knows who we are!
We fit in the very heart and mind of God! We are:
- The created who fit in the only relationship that truly matters – the ultimate trust relationship with God – from which all other relationships are authentically created.
- The beloved and forgiven who are so cherished by God that the Holy One became one of us so that we might become one with Him. So valued by God that the Lord was willing do personally teach us, willingly die for us, and graciously show us His risen Self so that we might believe in God’s great love for us.
- The empowered and renewed whom God infills with the divine spiritual presence so we become empowered to serve as holy instruments and truth tellers of God’s creative, forgiving, empowering love for the world.
This ‘fitting in’ isn’t intended to make us into self-righteous bullies who impose our particular mode of belief on others; such self-righteous thinking is a misfitting perception of who and Whose we are.
Rather, God invites us to embrace the humble realization of who we are apart from the saving grace of God, and who we are because of God’s grace.
This divine truth isn’t intend to suck us into a place of self-flagellating desolation, either, but rather to lift us to a place of hope-filled joy, catalyzing us to understand that if God lets even us fit in to that space of holy love, than everyone fits securely in the heart of God!
God’s heart has a place for everyone who has ever been created. We all are intended to fit! (John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9)
God’s peaceful assurance of divine forgiveness and love is a perfect fit for everyone who has ever breathed a breath. (Matthew 11:28-29)
God’s empowerment and opportunity to life live again to the fullest is for everyone – everywhere – every minute of every day. (John 14:15-21; 2 Corinthians 5:17-18)
So does everyone else.
There is no need to struggle for a place in the world – God has given all of us a place at the table.
A place that is waiting for you – waiting for all.
You have nothing to prove – no hoops to jump through – no obstacles to overcome.
You fit already.
Over time, this ‘fitting in’ will be transformative as you collaborate with the Spirit in order to live into the purpose and plan God had for you before the beginning of the world. (Psalm 139:1-18; Jeremiah 29:11)
Sit at the table.
Relax at the feast.
You are loved. You are forgiven. You are made new.
That is the transformative truth of Lent. That is the joy of Easter.
And to God be the glory. AMEN.