I've been finding it hard to carry on conversations with people lately. Inevitably, the question comes up, "so, what's new with you guys." Generally, my answer ends up being, "well, you know, our life really isn't that exciting/interesting/action-packed. Life's pretty boring, actually." Then comes the awkward silence as Ms. Boring tries to come up with anything at all to conversate about. I'm telling these people the truth, really. My life is not exciting right now, at least not compared to everyone else around me. They are juggling a home life with full time jobs, I'm catching up on the second season of Glee on Netflix. They are pursuing various endeavors, I'm starting to potty train Lexi (which I'm sure no one really wants to hear the details of). Unfortunately, by downplaying my life in my interactions with others, I'm really downplaying the potential for amazing friendships and relationships. I'm shutting down conversations with other people before they even start, based on my own comparisons. I'm very guilty of making sure that I don't fit, that I am too different from everyone else to ever build a truly meaningful friendship.
In church, and in our Bible study during the week, we're studying Ephesians. Right now, we're in the end of chapter 2, where Paul paints this wonderful picture for his readers: a picture of unity. He essentially says, "You were once separated from everyone, both God and other people. You were alone, desperate for love and life. Then, through the absolute amazingness of God, you were reconciled to Him, and because of this reconciliation, the wall between you and the rest of humanity was torn down. (read Ephesians 2:11-22)" So, here's the important question for myself: why do I keep trying to re-build that wall? I am surrounded by a group of wonderful people, who are loving, and giving, and intensely passionate about God. I want my relationships with the people of my church to be real, uninhibited, joyful friendships. There's an art print/quote I've seen floating around the internets that reads, "Don't let comparison steal your joy." How incredible it could be if that were true in my life, and in yours!
The most amazing part of this whole thought is this: we don't all have to be the same. A great example was brought up on Sunday, regarding building a wall. Generally, when I think of building a wall, or a building, this picture comes to mind:
This is a brick wall. All the stones are uniform in composition, color, and shape. Every brick fits nicely and smoothly next to the other one. This is not how the church works, even though it seems like a lot of effort is made to make things appear this way.
This is how the church really looks:
Every stone is different. Some are big, and some are small. Some have their shape from being broken, others from being hewn with tools. The great thing is, they might not fit nicely together, but in some unexplainable way, God makes them fit. The building He makes is strong and sturdy, built with stones that are immensely different, yet joined together into one holy structure. (I'm pretty sure I'm one of the little ones in the bottom middle, just sort of stuck there to seal up the spaces!)
If you are someone reading that could never see themselves fitting in a church, whether from past bad experiences, or fear of being judged, I want to apologize to you for everything you've been through. The personalities of those that follow Christ are supposed to be those of love. I'm still a work in progress, but my deepest prayer is that every thought, action, and breath be borne out of the love of God. This love, this life full of Him is never meant to exclude. You don't have to be on the outside, looking in. You have an incredible opportunity to be a part of something bigger than can be completely understood, and you have the opportunity to be a part of that surrounded by other people who have been loved by God in spite of their brokenness. You have an amazing opportunity to have a life filled with Love, unending, unquenchable, irresistible, life-changing, always surprising, never disappointing Love.