I’ve never found my tribe. I’m what they call in reality TV shows “a floater.” I’ve spent much of life wrestling with it. Probably a good amount off-putting people as a result of it. Maybe a side effect of why this blog is slow to grow (that and poor writing, poor marketing, and not writing at all) :). I know the tribe to which I wrote my bible study – Christian women who feel defeated instead of victorious. I wrote to her because I am her and it was exactly what God gave me when I needed it most. I learned the sufficiency of the Gospel for everything.
The majority of my life I’ve been on the fence. I grew up in a small town where being smart and in the band was the semi-popular thing to do. I was the smart kid and in the band. I did activities that popular kids did, but I never felt totally aligned with the popular crowd as I was too scared to be bad enough to do the unfortunate things the popular kids were doing. This, of course, worked in my favor. I was too smart and naive to be aligned with the other groups that formed. I tried to be in my own “sweet” club, but I stared at the popular girls, read my Seventeen mags, used Noxzema, and wished to be as perfect and as beautiful and have the clothes of the popular girls, just like your average teen girl.
For the most part during my middle school and even high school experience (where I was the new girl), I was sheltered away, too scared to be anything but safe. I moved from one high school to another after freshman year as a result of some controversy, and my mind will not unlock the truth of those years. In high school, I lost all of my friends after sophomore or junior year. Part of it was my mom’s doing because she thought I was getting in with the wrong crowd, and in a way, I was. But the popular kids noticed and they were the ones who reached out to me and talked to me when I was all alone. I got invited to a party here and there, but I was too shy, too afraid of making mistakes and never went.
At church, I was one of only two kids my age. I was super shy and never fit. At the time, I didn’t care so much. I sat with my parents under the pretense that life was short and I wanted to spend it sitting with family. <– That’s weird, right?
When I went to college, I immediately went to the BCM (Baptist Campus Ministries). I never considered that I could be someone new, someone not shy at all. I was me, and I was shy. Even at the BCM, I was never fully in, too scared to go to fall retreats, too worried about what kind of games I had to play. But something changed when God called me to ministry.
At the time, I thought I was called to become a missionary. I am not a missionary in the sense of the word that I thought I’d be. I still pray to go, but most days I live an ordinary, semi-boring life grasping for straws as a wife and parent to three kids ages 11, 10, and 7. I have lived with my life held loose, not wanting to plant deep roots in a culture when I might be able to leave and go somewhere else. When we moved to a new home over a year ago, I decided to let go of that and be all in here where I am.
I’ve never stopped thinking like a missionary. A missionary has to be adaptable. I do most of the things I do because I am thinking how could I reach someone, how could I spread the light, even when I’ve felt defeated and like the light was out, I’ve known I had something to share in Jesus. But the hardest ones to reach are my own children. I sometimes think writing here and ministry anywhere matters not if my kids don’t understand the Gospel. I don’t think I’ve done a good job giving my kids the Gospel, the fruit is not in the home yet. And in the home, in the secret places is where the fruit matters.
This past year, I started teaching in our youth group. I was not sure about it at first, and then I grew to love the girls. Truthfully, I needed that outlet to just teach as I love the Word. Today, my co-teacher sent me a video about middle school, the popular viral video “Why I am Not Good Enough poem” by a 13 year old girl shared on the Today webpage.
I had watched it before, and she says nothing new, nothing I’d not thought of as we sent our oldest to middle school this year (all my kids are back in public school 🙁 ) Today, however, I thought that middle schoolers and their moms are a definite unreached people group. As one who did want to be a traditional sort of missionary, this does rub me a bit. I didn’t choose this life. I wanted to give up this life for another, and yet God hand placed me here, for such a time as this. That poem went viral because it spoke to the tribe of middle school girls and maybe boys who feel all of those pressures. Yet, every single one of those pressures can be met with the Gospel.
I only know because I have felt so much of the same things, even as a mom. I felt hopeless, defeated, and found the Gospel was sufficient for all my needs. The Gospel is sufficient for all the middle school girl’s needs, but often the middle school girl doesn’t read the Word, doesn’t yet know it deep in the marrow of her bones the truth of the Gospel. She believes it because mom and dad believe or because it is what cultures tells her to do. Most of the time, she doesn’t believe it because she knows she needs it. So today, I’ve been dreaming of taking that Gospel to the middle schoolers as a missionary would.
When it comes to Christianity, we are called to deny, to die, to take up our cross. We do it because we are called to follow Jesus. He denied Himself and became small, so we do it too.
Sometimes death doesn’t look like you thought it would when you signed up to be a Christian. Sometimes self-denial comes in the form of stopping that familial fight one more time or trying to disciple your kids once more for the millionth time or pouring into a ministry where you thought you’d never be. Sometimes it means hanging on when you want to quit or quitting when you don’t want to let go. This kingdom work is upside down, and whatever your right side up is, He will most likely turn it over.
I am not a middle school girl. I still haven’t found my tribe. But I can be the light. Maybe, it makes me adaptable, moldable, ready to go at a moment’s notice wherever He calls me go, even if it is right here at home (or church youth group).
Do you have a tribe? Where has He called you?