The three girls stole glances at the boys’ table and then giggled nervously in their little huddle. The blond with the Lisa Frank lunchbox whispered something that made another girl’s face turn red.
I sighed as the drama unfolded before me, looking down at my ham sandwich wrapped in plastic wrap and then to the empty seats surrounding me.
I didn’t belong.
I was only six, but already I was a misfit.
The Making of a Young Misfit
The year after the lunch table incident, my family moved to Romania as missionaries. There I was “the American girl” who couldn’t possibly relate to them because of my “privileged upbringing.”
When we returned to the US on furlough, I was “the strange girl” who talked funny, wore out-of-fashion clothes, and didn’t have any friends.
Throughout my teenage years, I pretended to embrace my identity of misfit because I didn’t want people to pity me. All along, I trembled inside every time I walked into a crowded room, scouting an empty corner to remove myself from the party before someone else would. Sometimes, I still do.
But Jesus came for the misfits.
The Shepherd and the Misfit Sheep
In the gospel of Matthew, we find the beautiful story of a shepherd who leaves 99 sheep behind to go looking for the one sheep who was lost.
We can read that story and judge the sheep for wandering away from the fold. We can shake our heads at her foolishness. Didn’t she know it was dangerous to leave the safety in numbers?
But maybe she didn’t mean to get in trouble. Maybe she grew weary of trying to fit in. Maybe she tried to wiggle her way into the cliques of the 99, only to be rebuffed. Maybe she wandered because she didn’t belong.
Like you and me.
And even though the 99 might not have noticed her absence, the shepherd immediately took note.
He didn’t wait until the other 99 were safe in the pen. No. He left the 99 on the hills and went looking for the one that wandered off.
He knew her. He cherished her. He risked leaving the others untended because he loved her.
And when he found her, he lovingly called her to himself and gathered her in his arms. She belonged with him.
And then this glorious statement: “He is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off” (Matthew 18:13).
Finding My Place in the Shepherd’s Arms
Sometimes I still struggle with feeling like I don’t belong. I still feel trepidation when I look for a seat at a potluck.
But that’s alright. In those moments of insecurity, I’m slowly learning to listen to his gentle voice instead of the cacophony of (mostly imagined) voices telling me I don’t belong.
Friends, Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you. You are not a castoff. You fit right into His arms. And he will gladly go to great lengths to bring you back into the fold.
You are, after all, his beloved misfit.
Asheritah is a Romanian-American blogger who’s married to her middle school sweetheart and has a blast raising their daughter. In between loads of laundry, full-time HR work, and daily chaos, Asheritah blogs at onethingalone.com where she inspires women to sit at the feet of Jesus so they can dwell with God deeply, love others recklessly, and live their lives fully. You can connect with her on her blog, Facebook or Twitter.
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Friends, I’m also guest-posting over at my dear friend Emily Wierenga’s place today – and she’s giving away a copy of Spiritual Misfit! Stop by and say hi!