Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Living Like An Alien


WARNING: Deep thoughts ahead...

Confession: I am giving up on this world.

Now, before you report me to Green Peace, let me explain.

For my entire life, I have always struggled to find my niche. As a child, I was on the taller end of the spectrum, even taller than my brother at one point. I also developed my love for all things made of cake around the same age. And when you combine those two together, you end up with a girl whose petite counterparts thought she was ginormous. No girl, no matter how old she is, wants to be ginormous.

I was never the "it" girl in high school. I was more of the "I am going to do musical theater and study really hard and run for student government" girl. And while these things were fun, my daily routine of making sure my hair was 'just so' and trying to pick out the perfect flannel shirt (Hey, this was the '90's people!) was grueling. And if I were to be perfectly honest, I bet I could count on one hand the number of times I truly felt beautiful/included/worthy during those four long years.

And let's not even talk about prom.

I realize this is typical sentiment of many high school graduates. If you are among those who felt this same way, let's rejoice that we survived! And if you are among those who loved every second of high school, well, then, I don't really know what to say to you. You are a mystery to me.

For some reason I thought it would get better once I left the confines of teenage-dom and conquered the world as a twenty-something. I was ├╝ber wrong. The pressure to be the ideal single girl-on-the-town was even more daunting. I wasn't hipster enough during graduate school. I didn't know the best clubs in town. I had never heard of H&M. I didn't like to hike/ice climb/put your body in extreme climates for the thrill of it. I didn't ski/snowboard/snowshoe. And the thought of hanging out in Boulder terrified me.

It's not as though I didn't try because I did. I tried swing dancing, candle making, white water rafting and eyebrow waxing. I told myself I loved going to nightclubs, loved trying new singles groups and loved going to parties just to say I had been there. And in all honesty, I hated them. I hated them because no matter how hard I tried, no matter how often I told people I was having fun, it just didn't feel right, it didn't feel like me.

I had always heard that once you hit thirty, most of your insecurities about who you are disappear. This is a lie. Turning thirty just makes you even more aware of your insecurities because now you are old and still trying to fit in. Awesome. And now, instead of trying to figure out the latest social trends, you are suddenly very aware of how much money you make (or don't make), if you have a 401K, if it is the right time to buy a house, if you should have 2.4 children of 3.7 children.  Or, if you are single, should you online date or just join a convent.

And all the while, all you really want, is someone to know you, to love you, to comfort you, to take your burdens and carry them a while. To be at peace. (Hmmm...sounds like Jesus?)

Contort. Stuff. Twist. Struggle. Struggle. Struggle.

I don't know about you, but I am exhausted.

Someone I highly respect and love recently asked me, "Sarah, why are you trying so hard to fit into a world for which you were never created?"

This question hit me like a ton of bricks. Why am I trying so hard? Why do I care so much? Why does it matter if I impress everyone? If this life is just temporary, why am I living it like I want it to last forever? Perhaps it is because this world is all I know. Or perhaps it is what is right in front of me. But time and time again, God has said that we are aliens in this land and what awaits for us is so much better. Perfect, actually.

My mind cannot even fathom perfection.

In 1 Peter 1-2, those who follow Jesus are referred to as "exiles" "foreigners" and "aliens." God says that we will not fit into this world, rather we are here only to bring Him glory and to love those around us. No wonder I often feel like I just landed in a foreign land, it's because we are in a foreign land! And just like any international trip, it is important to understand the culture and the language, you do want to find ways to communicate and impact people. But that doesn't mean you want to give up your citizenship to do so.

So this tension that I feel, this wrestling, struggling, stressing to fit in? It is to be expected. But I have also been given permission to let it go. I have been given permission to stop trying so hard and just be Sarah.

WHAT A HUGE RELIEF!

There is freedom in this, wonderful, delicious freedom. I am amazed that our God could love us this much! So next time you see me, just keep in mind that I am doing my best not to fit in. It's just the way I roll now.


15 comments:

  1. Sarah...thank you so much for sharing and being vulnerable. Love you friend for exactly who you are!

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  2. Wow you are fantastic and so authentic. Thanks for putting into words what we all truly feel deep down but try to suppress. No matter what place in life we are at or what impressive label we do or don't have, this world is not our home. So let's not strive for comfortable perfection here on earth. Love you sister.

    Rach

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    1. I love you too. And I love what you wrote: "let's not strive for comfortable perfection here on earth." So true! :)

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  3. I'm so surprised by this--how you felt in high school, any body or appearance issues you have--because the first time I read your blog (and all 800 times after) I've thought, 'she is stunningly beautiful'. So, you do your thing and continue to not fit in. Because, hey, like you said, we were made to be aliens in this world of craziness. But please do remember that you are 30 and gorgeous. Blatantly, perfectly gorgeous.

    LOVE this blog. :)

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    1. Dear Alyssa,
      Your words made me cry! Thank you for your encouragement and kindness. I am honored you follow this blog.

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  4. love you sarah!! you rock. thanks for the encouragement!!

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  5. You are my soul sistah! I'm thankful for you no matter what.

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  6. Sarah! I'm truly shocked. Ever since I first met you I thought, "wow, she's too cool for me to be friends with." I would have envied you in high school (and I was the petit blond to be loathed - it was lonely there, too).

    It's true that this world is not our home, but you do an amazing job of living in it. I'm glad you know the true meaning of this life and work daily to point people there.

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  7. Bless you for being vulnerable and getting out there what we all feel and struggle with. There is no such thing as the "it" girl since that is a manmade term anyway and yet we all try so hard to achieve... You know we all love us some Sarah - just exacty as you are - funny, beautiful, caring, generous, smart!! You are indeed blessed, my friend, and we are blessed by you. Never doubt that!
    Mel

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  8. Sarah,
    I'm a pastor preaching on 1 Peter 1:1-2 this week. I was looking for an illustration to demonstrate the awkwardness of being an alien - being a citizen of heaven yet living with the tensions of the here and now. I googled "Living like an Alien" and came across your blog. Thanks for sharing your story! I hope you don't mind me using it this week. You articulate yourself so well and honor Jesus!
    greg

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    1. Greg,
      I am honored to be included in your sermon. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement! And I am praying more people find the same kind of freedom.

      Sarah

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    2. AnonymousMay 03, 2012

      Greg, if you see this, you should post a link to your sermon, if it's available on-line. I know I'd love to hear it.

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  9. AnonymousMay 03, 2012

    Sarah, I think most if not all of us feel the same way as you did and do, but don't or can't admit to it, if we are even aware of it (which is a big "if"). I certainly felt that same way in high school and still do - just different. But I'm realizing that God made me for who I am and for me to try to be anything different, to try to fit a mold I was not created for, is somehow short-changing and fighting against God and his purpose.

    I am so thankful this world is not our home. Thanks for the reminder and giving us all perspective. This life is but a tiny dot on the long timeline of eternity. Soon we will be spending time in the place and with the One for whom we were made.

    The WP

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