The Best Way to Fit In

By Marjorie F. Eddington

Categories: Expressing God, Paul, Peer Pressure, Putting God First

School starting up again can cause a whole slew of emotions. The social aspect alone can be daunting, especially since social media has made it so that we live in a fishbowl: everyone can see everything; people express their opinions quite openly; they share an awful lot (and not everything is accurate or kind).

As a result, there's added pressure to fit in—since the consequences of not fitting in have escalated. People post the minutest details of daily life on Facebook. Twitter raises gossip to a new level. And bullies can be even more damaging because their media-connected audience is so much bigger than the schoolyard.

So how do we navigate the social aspect of school? Maybe we don't. Maybe we don't try to fit in. Maybe we don't try to keep up with everything, send a gazillion texts a day, post our lives (or read about others') on Facebook. Maybe we don't try to be part of the popular clique, or any clique, for that matter.

Maybe, instead, we follow the advice of a man who was a rising star in his community and left it all, only to find himself ostracized and persecuted by the very community he once loved. I'm talking about Saul/Paul, who, as a Pharisee, persecuted the followers of Jesus until he himself was converted. After his conversion, he was not popular. He was no longer following the in-crowd. Rather, he preached, taught, and healed in the name of Jesus, spreading the good news as he traveled. And in so doing, the world changed.

Here's what Paul says about fitting in:

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (The Message, Rom 12:1-2)

Rather than spending time and energy trying to fit in or to keep up with the crowd, focus on fitting in with God. Do what God would have you do. See what God would have you see (His "image and likeness"). Go where God would have you go. Maybe this starts by spending time alone with God, which is a good thing. It gives you space to think.

When you spend time with God, you're able to deal more effectively with any emotions that might come up. You're able to see God's point of view, rather than get lost in everyone else's opinions. You get to appreciate the grandeur of God's creation. As you get to know God, you get to know yourself as God sees you. And God sees you as a beautiful individual, not as one of the crowd.

Fitting in with God may mean that you don't have as many friends as you'd like, but you'll have what you need. You may not be part of a specific clique, but you may know lots of people. You may not be invited to a lot of parties, but you may be able to help others by being kind to them when someone else isn't.

The great thinkers and movers of the world, those individuals who truly make a difference, such as Jesus and Paul, don't worry about fitting in with the lifestyles of those around them. They live to glorify God. And so can you!