The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
I find it funny sometimes, what the Lord uses to speak to me from a Sunday morning service. I think we're blessed at the Tree with equally fantastic teaching and worship, and I hear from the Lord on both accounts. A while ago, Pastor Michael sang a song for one of Pastor Matthew's messages, and a line in it smacked me right in the heart. He sang, "Your love is not ashamed to be seen with me." Growing up, it was made clear to me by members of my family that I wasn't really like them and didn't quite fit it. When I found Jesus at 10 years old, it just exasperated the division between my family and me. We didn't really see eye to eye on anything, and I was, on all accounts, the black sheep. Add to that immigrating to America, and my sense of being the outsider solidified.
As you grow, you realize all people are quirky in their own ways. In fact, I've learned to really enjoy how different people can be. But when you're young, being told you're different doesn't sit well. Being told you don't fit into the one place you should...leaves you doubting yourself. Unfortunately, as a result I've never quite made it past struggling with feeling like I don't quite fit in anywhere. At 37, I still find myself at times second guessing my conversations and regretting my quirkiness. But God knows what He's doing (understatement of the day) and He can bring beauty from everything. You see, in hindsight, it was actually a good thing that I didn't quite fit in when I was young. He saved me from a lot by making me different. I remember the day in junior high that I decided I didn't want others to feel like an outsider. So even to this day, I try to be friendly and inclusive, even when it's not natural for me. I try to understand where people are coming from. If we're willing, God will use our trials and experiences to shape us and help others...the ultimate way to stick it to the enemy. And though I may still struggle, Jesus is faithful to combat those lies with the truth. He is faithful to sing love over my life, like the lines Michael sang. No matter how we doubt ourselves, He speaks life over us. Zephaniah 3:17 tells us that God rejoices over us with gladness and quiets us (and our nagging fears) with His love. He sings over us with a loud voice... just the way we are. (Side note: If God has the power to bring things into existence by speaking, can you even imagine the power and beauty of God singing! And He does that over you.)
If you're struggling today, let me tell you where your quirkiness and your idiosyncrasies fit...with Him. And in Him, we have the power to flip the negative things that have been spoken over us and use them to encourage others and speak life. He made you with purpose and design, and His love is not ashamed to be seen with you.