I was never very popular growing up. I know it’s hard to believe after seeing that fantastic 1989 hair and silver metal belt in the picture above, but I can assure you it was totally “in” back then and not at all responsible for my lack of popularity. Not that I was the total nerd of the class, but let’s just say I wasn’t sought out as the prized friend everyone wanted either.
I can remember 5th grade and wanting so badly to play with “those” girls. You know, the ones who told everyone who could like who—the ones who held the power to decide if you were in or if you were out.
I remember by high school they pretty much all knew I went to church and that I wouldn’t party or drink or be allowed to stay out late. So even though I played 3 different sports, was in honors classes, was active in the music and theatre departments, and acquaintances with most everyone, I wasn’t popular.
I had a reputation, I loved Jesus and they all knew it. I had my two or three close church friends and that was it. I wasn’t popular with girls let alone boys, and looking back I suppose it’s possible that it was not because of my faith. Maybe it was more about my studious-type-A personality? Maybe I was too serious or too driven or just plain not fun enough? I really don’t know. But whichever the case, I didn’t do much socially with my highschool friends.
And I think no matter how much time passes, I still tend to think of myself as that girl who was never really “in” … the one they were friendly to, but who was mostly “out”.
And the crazy thing is, two years ago, as the unpopular, non-ASB, non-homecoming-queen-court, non-most-likely-to-succeed girl, I spearheaded the planning of our 20-year high school reunion. It was such a huge undertaking, and it ended up being a big success.
We had many alumni from our class attend, and it was really great to see everyone again. And even though 20 years had passed … even though we were older and had families and careers, inside my head I found myself remembering those I’m-not-so-popular feelings. And although being unpopular is not persecution, it can be difficult to endure.
Honestly, my unpopular woes could never be classified by the words revile and persecuted. My lack-of-a-social-life-high-school-years could never compare to what some suffer for the name of Christ around the world. I mean there are places in the world TODAY, where you can be put in prison, raped, tortured, or even killed for being a follower of Christ. Clearly I’ve never experienced risk like that, and probably neither have you.
But while I’ve been free from such extreme persecution, I have had my own I’m-safe-from-persecution-in-America experiences … times when I would have been more accepted or popular had I “gone with the flow” or not singled myself out as the exception because of my faith. And I think there are times where lines must be drawn and we have to decide to hold to our faith and not cave to feel accepted.
And I think it’s so important to teach this to our children…
For them to know that it may be hard,
For them to know ahead of time that we’re all tempted to bend and sacrifice our convictions to be accepted,
And for them to know it’s normal to want to fit in, but learn how Jesus has called us to be set apart.
Jesus says to rejoice and be glad when we feel like we don’t fit in because of Him–when others tell lies about us, say mean things, or leave us out. And the thing is, we shouldn’t be surprised and we shouldn’t feel alone. This rejection is not uncommon to followers of Christ, and our identity, value, and worth is to be found in Him alone, originating from who He says we are.
Even when we don’t seem to fit in, even if we’re mistreated or excluded because of our trust in Him … He says we are blessed even then.
So when you’re in your moments of feeling slighted or excluded, unpopular or rejected, know this truth, and let it soak in deep:
In Him we always have hope, and in Him we are already blessed!
How have you felt left out because of your faith?
How did you overcome it?
If you’re memorizing with us, how’s it going?
This week on to Matthew 5:13-14 (ESV)…
Other posts in this series: