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I slid into the booth at Kneaders opposite Salena, excited to chat with this woman I recently met but feel like I’ve known for years. Over her fruit tart and my breakfast croissant, she and I meander down a long road of conversation, lingering here and there at points of interest.

She is an Army wife and I am a former Air Force wife. As we travel through our conversation, we stop and ask each other this question: Did you ever live in a place where you struggled to fit in? 

While the locations mentioned differed, we both experienced what it was like to be placed in a community that didn’t fit well. Although folks were kind, they weren’t necessarily receptive to our presence. For a long time, we were on the outside looking in, showing up at the party but not really welcomed through the front door.

For you, maybe it was something else that brings this awareness to you. Maybe you attended that conference chock-full of people who do what you do, except in your mind they all do it better. Maybe you changed churches and it’s taking endless months to feel like you fit in with that community group. Or perhaps you’re the new girl at the new job, and you haven’t figured out how to connect with your co-workers. Whatever it is, it’s like all those around you know the hilarious inside joke, and you’re expelling quite a bit of effort not to look like you don’t.

It’s really no fun at all.

When I’m on the outside looking in, I want to do all kinds of things to fix the problem. I want to wave my arms wildly and get noticed. I want to jostle my way into the front of the crowd. Or I want to go the opposite direction and move completely inward, believing I’m too small to count. Either way, I’m anxious to do something that will bandage up my hurting heart.

But what if there’s a third option that doesn’t go one extreme or the other? What if that option finds us not doing but simply remaining?

Remaining still and receiving what the Lord wants to give us right now.

Remaining calm and refusing to feel anxious about our abilities or worth.

Remaining quiet in our own spirit as we lift up the spirits of others who need encouragement.

Because here’s the truth, dear ones:

You don’t have to try to move inside because you were never out.

You are in.

You are in.

You are in.

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That’s what’s so compelling about the gospel: it’s for all and all are in. Sometimes it’s easier for me to believe Jesus came for all than to believe He came for the singular me. But He did. He came for me, so I am all the way in.

And so are you.

Of course, the Lord desires for you to be in robust, life-giving community, and He wants that community to affirm and love you like Jesus with skin. But He already has you in the palm of His hand, in the heart of His care. If this is true, isn’t it also true He is invested in your best interest and will not leave you out in the dark?

So the next time you and I are tempted to stand tip-toed on the outside straining for a way to get inside, let’s refuse to grasp for desperate answers, elbow our way into a prime location, or sink into “I’m a big dumb loser” despair.

Let’s relax and look into what God is doing for us today.

And let’s remain hopeful that even now, He moves us in the direction of our best.

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This is why the gospel is so compelling: It’s for all and all are in.
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We want to know: Have you ever felt as if you’re on the outside looking in? How are you able to resist anxiety and remain quietly confident of your place in this world?

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  • Anna Smit

    Thank you for your wise words. I needed to be reminded of this. This morning I also read these words in Psalm 105 and they struck a chord:
    “Keep your eyes open for God, watch for his works,
    be alert for signs of His presence.”
    I became a member of a very large church this year and am slowly learning to become more engaged, in the knowledge that I am “in” and as a child of God have value to contribute, rather than remaining on the sidelines believing I am “unworthy” and “too different” to fit in. And if I look at the little steps, I do see progress and God’s Presence in the steps. Thank you for your encouragement.

    • KristenStrong

      Anna, I *adore* this comment. Your words have blessed me with fresh insight and encouragement. Thank you!

      • Anna Smit

        That encourages me to hear that. Love seeing how God builds us up through each other.

    • malonite

      Psalm 105 is what I needed today. Thx

      • Anna Smit

        So glad it blessed you as it did me. So sorry for your loss as well. I wondered if you might find encouragement following a blog of a friend who is also a widow (with four girls). She calls her site Widow’s Manna and her name is Wendy Simpson. She has encouraged me greatly in my own grief (not as a widow, but in losing my Mum to cancer).

    • Penny

      Thank-you Anna for sharing this it’s very helpfu.

      Penny

      • Anna Smit

        So glad it blessed you, Penny.

  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Kristen,
    My first reaction when I feel like I don’t fit in is to get myself in a twit over it. I love how you say “remain”…remain calm…remain still. Sometimes I’m so busy flapping my feathers that I don’t see that God is already at work. My job is to just abide in Him and take note of what He is already at work doing. I love the reminder, that no matter what, I’m already “in”!! Beautiful!
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • KristenStrong

      You and me both, sister! #FeatherFlapping

      May we both simply remain as we trust him with the “do.” Love you, Bev.

  • malonite

    Being a widow is a lot about feeling on the outside looking in. still working on resting in Him.

    • KristenStrong

      I’m so sorry for your loss, Malonite. May His presence be especially near you today, and may you know you’re wildly loved.

      • malonite

        Thank-you. Grief reminds you how God must hate sin to introduce death into the world.

    • Penny

      Thinking of you. I’m so sorry for your loss.

      Penny

      • malonite

        Thank-you, you’re so kind.

    • http://freedtofly.me Trudy Den Hoed

      I’m so sorry for your loss, Malonite. It must be so devastating. Praying God will fill your aching heart with His presence.

      • malonite

        Thank-you. I know God never promised joy without sorrow but losing a spouse feels like losing a part of yourself. The two become one and now I don’t feel whole. I wonder if you can be prepared for such a loss? I strive to find things to be grateful for and avoid a pity party but grief takes up residence within and remains I guess until it has served it’s purpose. I cannot say one unkind thing about the man i lost. He was a gift and I can only hope he knew how much I loved and appreciated him.

  • Grace

    Kristen,
    Thank you so much for the reminder that we are ALREADY in! I grew up in the military, my dad was a Navy chaplain. Now in my mid-life I look back and I realize I’ve spent much of my life feeling like an outsider. Like I’m always the new kid on the block, like I have no roots or place where I feel completely at home. I needed this reminder that I’m accepted, loved, and IN no matter where I am! What a sweet balm to my soul. It’s time to stop striving and start receiving. Thank you!

    • KristenStrong

      And thank you, Grace…for your comment here and for your own sacrifice as a military kid. It’s no small thing. xoxo

  • Beth Williams

    Kristen,
    For years I went to “large” churches. I always felt like I didn’t fit in! I would do some activities, but never felt a connection to the people or had a relationship with God. Since I got married I have gone to a small country church. From day one they made me feel at home!! I have a super relationship with them and a better relationship with God!!!
    Blessings :)

    • KristenStrong

      I’m so glad you found a church home that works for you, Beth. They are the blessed ones because they have YOU. xo

  • Becki Woodsmall

    This really hit me this morning! I’ve just had shoulder surgery that prevents me from doing anything. I have no choice but to sit back and rest in God. It’s easy to feel forgotten as everyone else, including my family go about their daily activities without even a, “Hi, Mom. How are you feeling?”. I don’t understand it at all but do know that God sees and God knows!! Thank you for encouraging me today!

    • KristenStrong

      A warm wave to you, sweet Becki!

      Well, if there’s a positive to having surgery, I believe you found it. I’m praying now that you quickly recover, that the Lord continues to use this time of healing to draw you closer to Him, *and* that those kiddos of yours remember to check in on their good mama more regularly. So much love to you!

      • Becki Woodsmall

        Thank you, sweet girl!! Being a Christian for over 50 years, you’d think I’d have already learned this lesson. One of my daughters did come to visit this afternoon with my four of my grandchildren so that cheered me right up!

        • KristenStrong

          Grinning ear to ear, Becki. xoxo

    • Penny

      Hi Becki,

      How are you? I hope that you recover soon. In the meantime enjoy your time with Him.

      Penny

      • Becki Woodsmall

        Hi, Penny, and thanks for the well wishes!! Rotator cuff surgery is a long recovery and I’m not a good patient, lol! God gives me better than I deserve!

    • Beth Williams

      Becki,
      Prayers for a quick recovery! Prayers that He will bring His healing touch to you!! May God open the eyes of your family to talk with you–a simple Hello, how you feeling?!!
      “Hello Becki How are you feeling today?”
      Blessings :)

  • Megan Curran-Bucher

    Kristen, I appreciate your words of encouragement. My family just joined a new church, and I can’t wait to jump in and get involved…but it takes time to find your place….and that can be disheartening if I listen to the wrong voice. I also experience this feeling as a stay at home mom whose kids are in school all day for the first time. It can be alienating, the loss of day time playgroups and play dates with other moms and their kids. It’s a tough shift, some days, but today- you’re words remind me to listen to the right voice. Thank you. Happy Saturday!!!

    • Penny

      Megan,

      The time you spend home with your children is meaningful time spent. I found it helped to do age appropriate crafts to pass the time. Homemade play dough was always something my son enjoyed.

      Penny

  • Keri Siegel

    Nowhere do I feel like I’m on the outside looking in than when I’m with my natural family. My daughter is the only one there who treats me with love and respect. My mom loves me but doesn’t show it effectively; and the rest of my natural family completely avoids me. So, when I’m with my mom (whether or not my daughter is there) I spend MOST of my time talking about school because it’s the ONE thing she’s told me that she’s proud of me for. Then, when we go our separate ways, I hide in the crowd of my spiritual family who truly loves me and genuinely expressed it. They are interested in ALL aspects of my life because they are interested IN ME. They help me pray through and enable me to be refreshed and renewed after an experience that mixes both pain and pleasure in the same visitation. Be blessed.

  • Amanda Sharritt

    There couldn’t be better timing for this. I too am an Army spouse and have really struggled with this of late. Thanks!

  • Penny

    I noticed that my post has been deleted, I’m not sure why that is? It is the second time it’s happened to me. Help please.

    thank-you,

    Penny

  • Veronica

    Hi Kristen, love your msg this morning. :) It is so true, we are “already in” because of Christ. There have been times that I have felt that I didn’t fit, but then Jesus reminds me who I am in Him and that I fit because of Him. He has already laid out the welcome mat. Have a great weekend Kristen.

    • KristenStrong

      “He has already laid out the welcome mat.”

      I love that.

  • http://freedtofly.me Trudy Den Hoed

    Thank you, Kristen, for this beautiful encouragement – “But He already has you in the palm of His hand, in the heart of His care.”

  • Rebecca Jones

    I was of the mindset that I had said something stupid or would say say something stupid, I guess you’re right, we are in. In Jesus! My mother is also right, that you think people are making fun of you or ignoring you, and they are really just wrapped up in their own situations.

  • Susan G.

    Thank you for these words today Kristen. I too have felt like I was on the outside, not unlike many women I see… We are never too old to feel this way I guess…I’m a grandma and at times have still felt this way. I will remember your words that “I am in”, the next time I begin to feel like I am on the outside. I loved Anna’s reminder of the beautiful words in Psalm 105 too!
    Bless you all!

    • KristenStrong

      I think you can never be too old or too young to feel this way, ya know? It’s a real deal thing that knows no age limits.

      So glad you are in this community here, Susan. YOU are a gift. xo

  • Angie Ryg

    I love all the statements with “remaining” as they are such good reminders to rely and rest on God’s perfect promises and timing. Thank you for this.
    Blessings on your weekend! XOXO

  • Teresa

    I have been a member of a big church for a few years. I work nights 6 nights a week, so when most up and about, I am sleeping. I belonged to a home group, but they meet in the evenings and are a half hour from where I now live. I want to be more active in my church, but right now my schedule holds me back. I want some Christian women to hang out with and share and pray together.
    My dream is to put a picnic table (if my HOA will let me) in my front yard so I can get to know my neighbors better

    • Beth Williams

      Teresa,
      I completely understand! I live 30 minutes or so from my church. That makes it hard to do a lot with them, especially if you work, visit aging parent, run errands, etc. It can be so hard to get involved and really know people working different shifts. Perhaps soon you can work day shift and be able to do more with the church!
      Blessings :)

  • Adeola Odutola

    Thank you for posting this today. I am looking for a new church after having to leave my former church of 13 years and it’s not been easy. I pray the Lord goes before me and settles me in a place of His own choice, for I have had even Christian’s from my own nation threaten me not to come to their own church. God when did people or a particular group have sole monopoly on you, I asked myself.

  • http://www.pensieve.me/ Robin Dance

    You and I have had enough conversations, you know I can relate :). I love the peace that has come with age; the Lord has tenderly taught me to look at what IS vs. what isn’t. What is given in any season is our portion, but I know I’ve been tempted to grab from another’s plate. When you aren’t striving, THEN you can be! Anyway…good important words for now and always, friend :).

  • KristenStrong

    Amy, I just re-read your comment here, and I am so sorry for all you, your husband, and your family has endured. *Thank you* for sharing your story here. I am fervently praying that hope comes your way in small and grand ways alike, that friends and community show up and show you your value and worthy presence in this world. Sending much love to you from my neck of the woods, Amy. May God bless and keep you and yours. xo

    • Amy M. Fry

      Thank you so much, Kristen. When I got your email today, I had to come back to this (in)courage post to see what I’d written. :-) Things ARE a bit better for me these days; thanks, in NO SMALL WAY, to this blog post you wrote, reminding me that I AM His child, and that’s a VERY big deal!
      I’m taking it one day, sometimes one minute, at a time! The Lord sent your words at EXACTLY the right time. But isn’t that just like Him? :-)
      Love in Him,
      Amy