How to Embrace Your Differences to Belong

Out of Place – Melissa’s Story

A stare comes from the person across from me with raised eyebrows and squinted eyes as they try to smile. A feeling of awkwardness comes over me. “Oh, I was too much!” I think to myself. “Why am I so excited talking about buying vegetables for a new recipe I am planning to cook? I am so weird.”

“Is something wrong?” my husband asks.
“No. Nothing is wrong. I am excited, but listening to all the details,” I reply.
He is updating me on the progress of our home renovation plans.
I think to myself, “Do I look upset? Why couldn’t I have been bubblier while he was talking.”

I am either too much or not enough. I will never belong. I will never be accepted.

I have always had a feeling of not belonging. A disconnect has stood in the way of content and connection in my relationships for as long as I can remember. Even when I am surrounded by people, I often feel lonely. 

I don’t want to feel lonely. I don’t want to be alone. I want to feel like I belong.

I spent many years attempting to transform into what I think others want me to be. I would like what they liked. I would talk about subjects that were “safe.” No strong opinions from me for fear of being rejected.

Keeping this up was exhausting emotionally and mentally. 

So, I began keeping people at a distance, afraid of their judgements and disapproval. I avoided close relationships because people are uncontrollable and unpredictable, however this did not improve my loneliness or feelings of not belonging.

Friends are difficult to make and keep when you refuse to be authentic or vulnerable.

I was lonely.

I didn’t belong.

My loneliness was a result of how I chose to live my life. The longer the loneliness lingered the more the feeling of not belonging multiplied. I found myself asking “Why is it so easy for everyone else to have friendships? Why does everyone else belong somewhere?” 

Have you ever felt like you are the only one who doesn’t fit in?

how to embrace your differences to belong

Created for relationship

What I have found is we all feel like we don’t belong at one time or another. This is a distraction, a ploy, used by the enemy to keep us from living into our fullest lives. The longer we are distracted by this “not belonging” the deeper those feelings take root. The more we will miss out on the life and the people that are around us. At which, our lives can only be a portion of what they are capable of being. 

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” John 10:10 (NIV)

Holding back in relationships because I think I am too much or not enough holds me back from my full life because I am created for relationship. I spent many years missing out on the laughs and the tears. I missed out on prayers and miracles. I missed out on the gift and talents of others and they missed out on mine. 

“Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all.” Romans 12:15-16 NLT

In order to continue to grow in character I need relationships with other people who will support and challenge me.

“He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing, and full of love.” Ephesians 4:16 NLT

It took many years, but I realize now that I belong because I don’t belong. I was created differently! And so were you! As the verse says, each part does its own special work. That is where I belong. Doing my “special work” no matter how quirky, or weird, or dull it may seem at the time. 

There are still days when I feel like I am getting a “sideways look” from everyone. My initial response is to hide because I don’t belong. I have learned to capture those thoughts and align them with truth: if I am being genuine and authentic, I am doing my part in the body of Christ. 

Just as I need others to be who God created them to be, they need me to do the same. Relationships are good for us. Friendships and community offer us a place to share our gifts and talents in serving others. And offer us a place to know and be known as a person who belongs to God.

If you’ve ever felt like you don’t belong, this series is for you! Every Monday, we’ll hear from someone who has also struggled to belong. Be sure to subscribe below to get The Scoop so you never miss a post! As a thank you, you’ll receive access to belonging-themed scripture cards and adult coloring pages in the free for you library!

Thanks! I can't wait to connect with you!

Meet Melissa Miller

Melissa is a wife to Josh and mom of 3 little girls. She is an RN by education and license. Her passion is helping others see the freedom possible when they are intentional in their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Making intentional decisions consistently to live a life of wellness creates a life of freedom. We are not all guaranteed health, but we can have wellness. She would love to connect with you on her website, on Instagram, and on Facebook.

Feature photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

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Sarah K. Butterfield is an author, speaker, and ministry leader who has a heart for empowering women to grow in their faith and be intentional with their time. She and her husband and two boys live in San Diego, where she writes about pursuing a deeper relationship with God in the midst of motherhood.

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