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  • Writer's pictureSue Bowles

Odd One Out – I Want to be a Mighty Woman

Ever feel like you’re the odd one out? Looking at things from outside the window, yearning to be on the other side of the glass? Out of place? A cog in the wheel? A misfit?

When I was in college there was a group of 5 of us that ran together and we called ourselves the Misfits. We even had shirts made with Misfits on them. I belonged to the Misfits then and I feel like I’m still a member of the group now.

Over the last couple months I’ve been enamored with the message of grace and hope in the movie Ragamuffin, based on the life of Rich Mullins. I was watching the documentary they made with the research footage and was struck with many who knew him best telling how he felt lonely, isolated, out of place. I related even more to him when I heard that. I was so captivated by the movie in January and February that I talked about it a lot for a couple weeks. And honestly, I think others weren’t sure how to respond. They responded politely but at times I felt like it was just ‘that’s nice for you’ and that was it. I felt out of place sharing my excitement and emotional upheaval with how God was using the movie. (see previous post for more insight into the movie’s effect on me). I felt like a misfit as I tried to share what God was doing even though I openly said I didn’t have my head wrapped around it yet. It wasn’t a neat presentation. Maybe that made others feel uncomfortable. I don’t know. I just know I didn’t feel ‘understood.’ I felt like I was walking my own road.

Being a Misfit is a lonely place to be. It doesn’t matter what it is that makes you the misfit…if you don’t ‘fit’ in you’re a misfit. It might be your personality that is the misfit. Maybe it’s your values. Maybe it’s your dreams. Maybe it’s your talents. Whatever it is that makes others feel a bit distant from you it’s still lonely. There’s a wall there – a barrier – that is somehow seemingly impenetrable. And the isolation only increases. It’s a wicked circle with no exit ramp. Yet to be true to yourself what do you do?

For me it’s a few things making me feel like a Misfit again, and I don’t share this in a prideful or condescending or judgmental way. It’s just how I feel. And maybe my boldness in voicing it makes me a misfit. So be it.

There is a yearning deep in my spirit for REAL fellowship. REAL discipleship. REAL relationship. REAL community.  Not the ‘hi – how ya doin’?’ you get at church on Sunday morning. I want the deep “I want to know how you’re REALLY doing and I won’t take any BS for an answer” fellowship. I had a pastor who only asked ‘how are you?’ when he wanted a REAL answer. He didn’t use that phrase as a long winded way of saying hi. When he asked the question it meant something. And he expected a REAL answer.

What I want – what I desire – is a friend or two with whom I can talk theology and apply it to our lives. I’ve been told I like to talk about ‘matters of consequence.’ I’m a thinker. My most recent question was ‘can you forgive and still be angry?’ I don’t ask salt and pepper questions…I ask meat and potato questions! I want to dig into the Bible and apply it in the hard areas. I want to ask the tough questions of myself and others. I want to struggle with the Word and know it’s OK to not necessarily have an answer, or even have a clean answer. I want to apply it to life – mine first – and take it at its root level, not what it means in modern society. If Christ says ‘make NO provision for the flesh’ then I don’t’ want to leave myself a loophole through which to escape because I don’t want to do the hard work. THAT’S the kind of depth I want.

I want to be in community where we serve each other, look out for each others’ needs before asked, where we are spontaneous, laugh, cry, stay up late drinking coffee, sit in the silence, and just BE. I don’t want to do. I’ve ‘done’ all my life. It’s a trap for me. Even now at church I am involved in a few different ministry areas and I have to be careful to not let that be my identity. Yet I find myself sitting alone at church – in the front row – because that’s where misfits hang out to get every morsel from every word said without the distraction of everyone in front of us. Do you ever think about it? Why are people afraid of the front row? I make a beeline for it every week so I can focus and not let myself get distracted by stuff around me. I don’t hang around long after church because there’s not really anyone with whom to talk or interact past ‘getting to know you….getting to know all about you’ kind of stuff. And most people head out the door right when it’s over anyway. It feels like few really know me and I really know few. It can be lonely. Now I’m confident a good portion of that is a price to pay for being single. I’m used to it. It’s harder for singles to connect to families at times, I think. I don’t interact with families much outside of church and they don’t initiate with me. It’s not like my kids are in class with theirs. Serving for me can be an excuse to hide behind and I have to be careful with that. It’s easy to disappear behind the sound board or dealing with music and instruments.

Small groups are great. I value being in one. They are discussion groups, fellowship groups….a great mid-week connection. In addition to that I desire a personal discipleship and accountability relationship or small group of 3-4 women. I’ve been in them in the past and value that intimacy level – that ‘real-ness’ level that isn’t always available in a discussion group setting. Both have their place and their purposes. I’m desiring both.

It takes work to be vulnerable. I want it. I yearn for it. Yet in some ways I fear it. Rich was fearful of relationships wondering if people would really care if they knew how ‘dark’ his life really was. I have the same fears. Some know my story but they don’t know my STORY”! They might know the current chapter but they don’t know the last 2 that influence the current one. I’ve come a long way from where I used to be but that fear still lingers at times. And at times I let it be a barrier. I have responsibility in this. I own that. It’s not anyone’s responsibility to initiate with me. If you want it you have to make it happen. I know this. I’m caught in the never-ending loop and I want out.

So I’m taking steps to remedy that little issue. And I started today.

I have a very dear friend from our youth ministry days who moved back to town from Florida. We’ve spent some time together since her return but not enough. She goes to a different church in town. She, too, is looking for a couple ‘got your back’ friends. We want the same thing. Taking from an article it’s simply this:

“Really challenged to link arms with the right kind of ‘mighty women’ here in Ohio. Girls I can’t BS. Girls who believe in me. Girls who point me back to Jesus.”

I’m willing to be that for her and I’m going to ask her to be that for me. And here are a couple concrete steps I’m taking to make that happen:’

1)     call, not text or FB message her (already started that today) – there is much to HEAR in a voice that you can’t read in a text. It’s easy to hide behind a machine. It takes effort to have personal contact. REAL relationships are face to face, not facebook to facebook.

2)      make it a priority to find a couple hours a week or every other week to connect – preferably in person – to check in and check up on each other. And the weeks we’re not meeting have a pre-arranged check in phone call.

3)      serve her and her family – as I get to know her I’ll know areas where I can just minister without being asked. We can be community.

4)      Share verses and prayer requests…and commit to being REAL. Memorize the Word together. We were involved in a church organization years ago that emphasized memorization, discipleship and evangelism. THOSE are the things I want. My church is big on ‘service’ and I support that and am involved in that, but I want more evangelism. I want discipleship. And I want to memorize and not feel ‘super holy’ when I share it with someone else. My favorite question to ask is ‘what’s God teaching you?’ I want to have that question asked of me, and I want to ask it of her.

I’m a Ragamuffin. I’m learning to embrace grace and apply it to the dark places in my life. I want to share that with others. Sometimes I wonder if people really want to hear. I have to apply its healing balm to the wounds of my life. Some are still infected and sore. Others are just scars. In the words of Rich Mullins, “In the end it won’t matter if you have a few scars, but it will matter if you didn’t live.” I want to LIVE the life Christ wants me to live….in a community of Ragamuffins.

For more information on the movie go to http://ragamuffinthemovie.com

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