Saturday, 27 February 2016

Being Different

This is a short break from the Lent series I'm writing as I feel it's a message I have to share right now.

It's a message for someone reading this looking for answers, and it's a part of my testimony.

Regular readers know my brother died when I was young. This isn't new revelation.

What you may or may not have found is that I'm different from other people - Christians and non-Christians alike.

I'm not dyslexic as far as reading and writing go, but my brain works differently than "normal" people's brains (whatever "normal" means)

The technical diagnosis from a medical perspective is Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). It means I think in a different way to other people. There are drugs I can take to make me "normal", and I've tried them. They nearly cost me my marriage because I couldn't bear the person I became when I took them. It's not a common reaction, but it does happen.

I don't sleep well because my mind is always active. I'm writing this at 5:30am and I've not slept yet. My mind and body deal with this in various ways. I sleep a couple of hours here and there during the day as my body and mind allow me to.

I'm different.

I get the sense that this is a message to someone out there, so I'll write this now as a letter.

Dear Friend

You've been going through a rough time recently, probably for a while now. I understand you feel alone, like nobody understands. Your friends all live their "normal" lives and you try, but you don't fit in. You're losing some of your hope as a result.

I get it. I'm different. I always have been. My mind works in a way that even my wife can't grasp. I try to "fit in" and be "normal", but it's exhausting. I'm tired all the time and I'm guessing you are too. There's a sense of isolation and you can't find your niche. I've spent 30 years in that space and I realised something recently.

Being different isn't the bad thing the World makes it out to be.

I see patterns where other people miss them. I see connections and links - especially in my Faith relationship - that others miss, and it gives me a deeper relationship as a result.

Jesus was a misfit. He couldn't be pegged into a box by the standards of the World, and that's a good thing. He pulled together concepts from the Old Testament and gave them a new perspective. He spoke into people's lives and changed them for ever. The World couldn't grasp Him, and it can't grasp us because we're like Him. We defy a prearranged category.

So did the disciples and Paul. They embraced their differences and changed the world as a result.

You and I can do the same. It's not easy, in fact it's often terrifying. We defy definition. I'm labelled as mentally ill as a result of it. Maybe you are too.

I don't know your story. I don't know what came across your path that God turned into something spectacular, but I know the World wants you to reject it. It wants you to be pegged into a box.

In the last 20 years I've been called a Pastor, a Teacher, an Evangelist, a Prophet and once even an Apostle. Maybe at some point I've allowed God to use me in those roles because I was open to being used, but I'm not a stereotype for any of them. I'm carnal in so much of my life. I have a temper I struggle to control - especially when I'm driving - and I get accusations of guilt thrown around inside my head constantly.

You probably know what I'm talking about. You doubtless have accusations thrown at you. Too loud or too quiet. Shy or overbearing.

I'm going to say what God has used people in my life to say to you. Get over it.

We have an enemy who seeks to destroy us and the gifts we have. Seeing things outside the generally accepted box is a gift. It's not a popular one with our friends because it makes them look at themselves. Their accusations are a result of us hitting a nerve God has been prodding for a while (usually - sometimes we're just prodding).

Remember Samuel heard God call to him in the night and answered "Speak Lord". We need to do the same. To tune out the boxes the World wants God to fit in and see the magnificence of the big picture.

Your difference, and mine, are a precious gift from God. He's chosen us because we're tough enough to not buckle under the pressure to conform to the patterns of the World, but to allow Him to transform us from the inside to be a gift to the World.

Take heart. There's more of us out there than you think. If you want to, you can write to me and we can share our strangeness together. I'd be honoured  to hear from you and if possible to meet and pray together, either in person or by skype. Write to me and I'll gladly send you my details.

Don't be afraid to be different. Every great man and woman of God has been different.

Remember you're not alone.



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