I don’t remember what sparked the argument. But we stood outside the cloakroom inside the second-floor classroom in the old brick school that’s long since crumbled. The classroom where the fire escape tunnel slide exited. The tunnel we loved to play in after school while we waited for the two buses to return for their second loads.
“Well, I have a different Bible,” I declared.
My friend laughed at me. “There’s only one Bible.”
She might as well have ended it with, “You dummy.”
I don’t remember if she did, but her tone implied the same thing.
And she would have been right. I was a dummy when it came to things like God and the Bible.
But I really, really wanted to be a church girl.
Instead, most Sunday mornings I stretched out on my tummy with the funnies while other girls slipped into frilly dresses and Mary Janes.
I did get to go to church a handful of times when I spent the night with a friend. I’d see other people writing in their Bibles, so when I’d get home, I’d look for and underline some sound-good verses in my grandmother’s KJV. But just in the New Testament.
At some point, though, I called my parents heathens, and thus ended any church girl aspirations.
My mom told me if I followed the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule, I’d be “just fine.”
But I failed badly at those.
So I knew I wouldn’t be just fine.
I went to church alone a few times while I was in nursing school. One day after the service, with sweaty palms and heart thumping, I asked the pastor if we could talk after everyone left. We sat down in the back pew.
“I want to be baptized,” I told him.
He sprinkled me a few weeks later—between services. I wasn’t really sure what it all meant yet, but I wanted to do all the right things.
Because I wanted to be just fine.
When my husband and I settled into our first church, I decided the best way to fit in was to say yes to every call for service.
I’d be just fine by doing.
Even if it meant leading the junior high youth group and teaching Sunday School to eighth grade students who knew more about the Bible than I did.
Then a friend invited me to hear Kay Arthur teach, and I signed up for Precept classes. I learned how to dig into the Word and let the Word dig into me. I was in my 30’s, finally living my longing—and even leading groups on how to study the Bible.
For lots of years I was like a many-tabbed jigsaw piece trying to find the perfect pockets. Sometimes the fit was a little loose, sometimes pretty tight. And aren’t we all like that? Just trying to find our place in this big puzzle of life?
These days, I can usually flip to any book of the Bible with ease.
Over the years, I’ve collected a lot of different Bible versions that tell the same story with their own flavor of sweetness. I’ve marked them up with different colors.
Even the Old Testament.
I’ve learned it can take a lifetime to find the perfect fit—that I can’t force myself into the wrong slots—but it’s okay to try different ones out.
I’ve learned I can be just fine without doing, and it’s okay to just be sometimes.
I may still feel like a dummy in many ways, but I’m just fine, thank you, even as a misfit.
Because I know I’m beloved, and God’s fitting me out now for my place in eternity.
Sandra Heska King (AKA SHK) lives in Michigan and writes from a 150-plus-year-old family farmhouse set on 60-something acres surrounded by corn or soybeans or sometimes wheat. She’s a camera-toting, recovering doer who’s learning that just being still is just fine.
Click here to purchase Spiritual Misfit: A Memoir of Uneasy Faith.