I Don’t Fit In
Now some cried out one thing, some another, for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together. Acts 19:32
I’ve always had an innate desire to fit in. Growing up, like most kids, I felt like everyone else was normal and I wasn’t. When I didn’t fit in – or when I felt like I didn’t – I was terribly uncomfortable. So, I tried to fit in, sometimes being successful and sometimes not. To avoid discomfort, I learned to just go with the flow.
The problem of course, is that childhood behaviors don’t necessarily disappear when we grow up. Juvenile behaviors turn into adult behaviors. By the time we realize that going along the crowd isn’t the way we want to go in life, we’ve conditioned ourselves not to swim upstream. Now, it’s difficult for us then to do the uncomfortable thing even when we know it’s right.
Going with the flow, appears to be what happened to some in today’s passage. In the story, a crowd, hostile to Christianity, dragged some disciples into the local arena. Apparently, many of those who gathered in the arena didn’t even know why they were there. They just went along with the rioting crowd.
Whether we realize it or not, many of us have done something similar. At work, we might go along with inappropriate humor because we don’t want to be the weird one. We might not think this is a big deal, but when we give in with a small thing, just to fit in, we find it easier to do it when those around us engage in more destructive behaviors. For the addict, this go along behavior is disastrous when those around us drink or use.
Fitting in isn’t inherently wrong and social skills aren’t a bad thing. Being weird simply for the sake of weirdness isn’t helpful and being a Christian isn’t an excuse for poor interpersonal skills. Altering our behavior simply to fit in though, may reveal that we have a pathologic need for affirmation. This need to fit in can be as addictive and destructive as any drug.
Being who God made us to be often requires that we swim upstream. If we truly want a life of joy, peace, and recovery, then we may often need to accept the discomfort of not doing what everyone else is doing.
Be who you were meant to be – even if it’s unpopular. Sometimes, it’s OK not to fit in.