When it comes to emotional needs, we are all the same. God has wired humanity with the need to belong yet be separate and distinct. This tension causes us to gravitate into group think even when we inwardly disagree. I need friends so I’ll adopt their views and ignore my true opinion. My family culture endorses image over vulnerability so what I present must be more important than “being real”. If we choose to “be true to ourselves” sometimes we ride the pendulum too far and inflate our autonomy through actions that draw attention. We can react in unhealthy ways to any perceived status quo that threatens us. I don’t care what they think, I’m gonna _____.
We experience this tension everywhere–belonging versus being distinct. School. Neighborhood. Church. Political party. Jobs.
Situations arise where where we must counter what seeks to control, manipulate, or stifle God’s design for our lives. (emphasis – God’s design) Other times we must face our own demons of fear or mistrust of “the other”. This “other” represents a threat, but the threat is literally a lie that we have believed. If we recognize the internal dissonance that makes us react instead of respond to “the other”, we can ask ourselves “What are we afraid of?” or “What do we believe they will think and why do we believe this?”
All of us, senior citizen, infant, Latino, white, refugee, citizen, man, woman, poor, wealthy, sick, healthy, long for unconditional acceptance. And we are caught in this tug-of-war between belonging and being distinct, autonomous men or women created in the image of God. Many times within our “groups”, an opposing viewpoint is disregarded. So we comply to avoid the rejection because being without belonging is internal torture. We were not made to be islands. We were created to be a family. We fear rejection. We despise it. We need to have our existence validated. So we are faced with a choice: submit to groupthink or be an anomoly within our social circles.
Can I adhere to a different worldview than my friends or family and my humanity still be honored?
Will I be banned or called names if my viewpoint is counterculture or contrary to today’s trends? Can my ethnicity be celebrated and not feared?
How do we allow our distinct fingerprint and God-given earthly assignment to prosper and still meet our need for unconditional acceptance? Acceptance that is based on being a fellow image-bearer rather than the distinctions that funnel us into manmade categories. What does it take to find our voice or discover our distinct story and not adopt an unhealthy or distorted version of “who” the Creator intended us to be?
It takes resolve and a will to forgive to be who God wants us to be and to not be what others want us to be for their own comfort. Yes, you will be rejected by someone. But you will be accepted by others. Don’t ever apologize for living “the days fashioned” for you in the heart of El Elyon (God Most High) the Creator, before you were conceived.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!