The other day I did what any self-respecting pastor would do in similar circumstances. I eavesdropped on a conversation between several younger men and women at Starbucks. Their conversations wasn't juicy love language, family secrets, or the latest buzz on the church grapevine. They were exchanging frustration over their fit in life right now. And, by fit, I'm not talking about bulging clothes, expanding waistlines, or the diet they meant to start on January 1. With all the name calling, lines being drawn, sides being taken, and positions being challenged, theirs was a pretty common thread where cultures are colliding at every life intersection. There wasn't any snowflake sentiment, mind you. It was just a group of young adults trying to find their place in a confused world.
Several themes were noted in their list of discomforts---
Women's rights were affirmed in no uncertain terms. But, to the person, all six of them shared pro-life convictions. The three young women felt alienated by the establishment in both camps. They didn't fit anywhere.
None of them voted for President Trump. Yet, again unanimously, they felt led to pray for him and support his leadership of our government. Many of their friends didn't understand this. Another fit problem with their cohort.
They were all Christians and shared compassion for the refugees seeking residence in the United States. But, they shared a sense of caution regarding the admission of terrorists into our country and indicated support of the President's recent executive actions regarding immigration, Again, whose side are they one?
As mentioned, they were not Trump backers in the 2106 election. But, they applaud his take-charge style and especially appreciate his use of social media and the quickness of his Tweets. Another misfit?
They were critical of partisanship and the separation of both political parties from the mainstream of the American population. They all claimed to be independents because they really didn't fall in line with either of the major party platforms.
They all expressed distrust of the media. Not some media, but all media. They all believed that the news is distorted by every special interest in the country and therefore is suspect of creating fake news, alternative news, and down right fabrication of news. They expressed concern about how they could verify what is being reported in media and where truth could be determined. More fit issues?
Toward the end of their forty minutes I stuck my head in, thanked them for the insight and wisdom and ducked out. I'm sure they were glad for a word from the nosy old geezer at the next table.
Of course, this fit thing moves way beyond six young millennials or Gen Xer's. Many of us are resisting the labels that culture would place on us. There's been a good bit of dictionary reclassification during this past election cycle anyway. The terms that characterized us in years past just don't work like they used to. One of the young men I listened to that morning was trying, without much success, to define "conservative". But, all of those identifiers have been adjusted, re-shaped, bracketed, or marked with asterisks because they've been shifted to include this politician, that constitutional stance, or some other group that confounds everyone.
Fitting into cultural norms, though, shouldn't be on a mature person's to-do lit anyway. There's this thing about being myself and true to my beliefs that should carry me through just about any societal shifts. In fact, my Christian faith lines up with what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans---
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and
perfect. Romans 12:2, ESV
Being slotted into the world system shouldn't be my first inclination. Regarding the issue of fit, someone wrote, and I really like this, "Why worry about fitting into a world where you should be standing out". Well, yes, blending isn't really the central life purpose for believers. Being salt and light is. Where I fit may not be the most critical issue I'll face this week. Being distinctly his may be.
Something else the Apostle Paul wrote registered with me this morning. In the fifth chapter of his Second Epistle to the Corinthians he was writing about the difficulty of life in "this tent" and the joys that await believers when they "are at home with the Lord". There's a tension in living this life, knowing the fear of the Lord but living in this "tent". He wrote this---
But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is also known to your conscience.
2 Corinthians 5:11, ESV
it's a joy and relief to know that we don't have to fit into a world system. God knows our heart. And, even more, we should pray that our consciences and actions are guided by that heart compass so that we're living the transformed life, and not merely one conformed to what the world expects.
On second thought, it may be best to talk about shoes.