Friday, October 21, 2011

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

I used to watch the show "cheers." That is when it was airing regularly. The show was pretty good-it made me laugh and I love to laugh, but I have to say the thing that got me hooked to the show was the opening song.

"Where everybody knows your name...
and they're always glad you came..
you wanna go where people know
people are all the same
you wanna go where everybody knows your name."

I loved that song. I also loved when "Norm" came into the bar everyone shouted, "Norm!"

When I was in my young twenties I was visiting  Boston and doing what tourists do-sight-seeing. One place I just had to go into was "Cheers" --the real bar. I seriously couldn't wait to walk through the door-I'm not sure what I expected, but it was absolutely nothing like the show. Everyone there was in their own cliques talking - and there was no "Norm!"

But how I used to long for that -to belong to a group- really -to just belong. I remember so many times I wanted to jump into the show and be a part of it- the jokes, the camaraderie, the family. 

In my own family I didn't feel like family. I remember sitting down to dinner. I must have been younger than four years old- I was sitting on a high stool-(I guess that was my chair)-too big for a high chair, too small for a "big" chair...(sounds like the story of the Goldilocks)  Anyways, I remember looking up and staring at alllll the faces around the table. There were soooo many people. I felt shy and scared. Let me paint the picture for you... we were a family of nine, around a smallish table, in a smallish kitchen, in a smallish house. We were also Italian which makes for a loud, boisterous group of people. It was intimidating to say the least. I remember not recognizing all the people at the table-it's odd to be living in a house with your own family and feel like a stranger.

In the city of N.Y. I didn't really feel like I fit in either. For example: alot of my friends and family were a tough crowd-a mean sarcastic group of people- rough all over. (Much like the typical New Yorker is depicted) but I was quiet and liked the funny side of sarcasm. At work, the girls were not married and went out to a bar every Friday after work. But I had a husband to go home to and quite honestly, I had never been in a bar before- I was afraid of going- I would have been the only one ordering a coke and golly, if a guy walked up to me I would have freaked! Also at work, I was the only Christian and it seemed like everyone knew it. Yes, that was a good thing, but so many times I felt like I was under a microscope. It's hard to be placed in a position of  "role model" when you yourself  a) didn't ask for it and b) aren't perfect. I don't know how much I 'fit-in' at work on this level either.

The constant struggle of trying to fit in when I could clearly see that it just wasn't going to happen was frustrating and lonely. I turned to the scriptures. The scripture that I would hold on to was in 2 Corinthians 5:17. "Therefore since we are a new creation. The old has gone. The new has come."  tremendous!  I remember how liberated I felt. I was new- I was a part of the family of God. The "old" was gone- the "old" of trying to fit in and be accepted was gone- I fit into Christ because He made me and made me a part of His family. I was content.

When my hubby and I finally left N.Y. I remember thinking, upon arriving in VA.- "I'm home! this is where I belong- this is where I should have been born. I used to say, "I may be a Northerner, but I got here as fast as I could." but in VA, well, I don't think I really fit in here either.

I remember I wasn't living here long when I had to go to T.J.Maxx to return something. I had my receipt, but it was alittle complicated-I wanted to return two items-one to give back, but the other item to exchange for a smaller size. After I explained to the cashier the two different returns, I handed her my receipt and my driver license. She looked at the receipt and was taking her time to do the return.
I said, "I'm sorry for the confusion."
Her reply--"No, you're not."
I was shocked, I said, "no, I really am."
Again she said,"No you're not."
I asked, 'Why are you saying that?"
She said, "You're from N.Y.-you're not sorry."

I tried to convince her that I was sorry, but she would not hear of it. I was a New Yorker and I was not sorry. I walked out really hurt. I thought wow, I'll never fit in. It was then that I realized that I had much deeper hurts than I ever realized.

In N.Y. I was considered sweet, non aggressive, shy, and some thought me funny-I didn't fit in.
in VA I think I'm looked at as aggressive, loud, a few think I'm funny, not too sure if they think I'm sweet. I don't fit in.

So back to the Scriptures I went. Ephesians 1:13-14 is one that did it. "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-to the praise of his glory." ...being "sealed." I finally found where I fit in- in God.

Through the years I have struggled with this time and time again (even last week!)- I don't seem to fit in- and maybe, just maybe, that's how God wants it- you see every time I have tried to find acceptance it was in others- relying on people to make me feel accepted, loved. even my location was a false hope of fitting in and finding safety. But God wants to fill that insecurity in me. He wants me to be filled with Him- the truth of what He sees in me.

So I've learned that no matter who I am with or where I am- I am accepted because I am a new creation and accepted by God. It sounds so simple- but truly, to put our hope in being wholly accepted by any one person or even in a place is a farce. In this world the rejection is constant- but in God we are accepted, forgiven, healed, approved of and sealed.

"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1)

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