All my life, I’ve been the one who didn’t quite fit. No matter where I’ve landed in my own spiritual journey, I’ve managed to be the one who is different — quirky, opinionated, on the edge.
I was the kid who had the most memory work badges and sang alto in the kids’ choir at our first church. But I was also the kid who hid out in the caretaker’s apartment, playing with his baby and talking to his wife instead of socializing around the punch bowl with the rest of the 5th graders.
We moved to a new town and a new church when I was 12. The youth group was huge and I went to every thing that was offered. I landed in the hard-working-leadership-tier, but never in the popular-kids-who-also-have-skills elite. And that was okay by me. I was tall and rangy and not terribly graceful. I was also physically fearful and lurking underneath my loud voice, an insecure, uncertain teenager.
I married young. It was a great decision for us, one that took us halfway around the world to live and work for two years. And I was really a misfit there. A southern California conservative looks nothing like a Pennsylvania holiness conservative and I found that out the hard way. Yet, somehow, we survived and even thrived in that beautiful place.
We had our kids early, and our grandkids even earlier. So for the last 40 years, we’ve been ahead of the curve by a long shot. And guess where that puts us now? Smack dab in the middle of just about everything. We find ourselves sandwiched between ailing parents, home-buying adult children, college-aged and pre-school grandkids.
We’ve found ourselves sandwiched between generations theologically, too — not as conservative as our roots, not as liberal (if I can carefully use such hackneyed terms) as so many Christ-followers who are coming up behind us. We love that we can say an enthusiastic ‘yes’ to many of the ‘newer’ ideas about church governance and gender equality, but we are not ready to throw out the church as the best way to be the Body of Christ.
For most of my adolescent and adult life, I found friends who were older than I was. Now, in my dotage, I have more friends who are younger. Go figure.
I’m a weird duck: I love Jesus, but I’m tired of Jesus-talk. I enjoy reading across a wide range of theological opinions and ideas. I’m a former over-achiever learning to appreciate silence and solitude. I’m an ‘old pro’ riddled with self-doubt (and sometimes, God-doubt). I love the church and I’m exhausted by the harshness I see exhibited in far too many corners of it. I am a contradiction in terms, a don’t-fit-the-mold non-conformist, always searching for truth and authenticity but put-off by TMI in a whole lotta places.
I don’t fit, and at this stage of my life, it’s highly unlikely that I ever will.
But you know what?
I am fine with that. I am more than fine; I am grateful. Because I like asking hard questions and I’m learning that I can live without the answers. I love a good wrestle and I know that God does, too. I am being formed into the likeness of Jesus, bit by bit, piece by piece — and those pieces don’t have to fit anywhere else, ever. I fit exactly where I need to fit . . . securely rooted in the heart of the Savior. And I like it here.
Married to her college sweetheart for nearly 50 years, Diana answers to Mom from their three adult kids and spouses and to Nana from their 8 grandkids, ranging in age from 4 to 23. For 17 years, after a mid-life call to ministry, she answered to Pastor Diana in two churches where she served as Associate Pastor. Since retiring at the end of 2010, she spends her time working as a spiritual director and writes on her blog, Just Wondering. For as long as she can remember, Jesus has been central to her story and the church an extension of her family.
Click here to purchase Spiritual Misfit: A Memoir of Uneasy Faith.