Humans are inherently pack animals. I think it’s bred into our souls to walk together. Hillary Clinton says it takes a village to raise a child, and even Jesus chose twelve disciples. We all huddle together as families and units, and choose folks that think and eat and pray like we do. When we stray too far from the herd, we are weak and vulnerable. Wolves surround us and start closing in. It’s safer to stay hunkered down in the middle.
And yet safe is boring. So I start breaking free.
Growing up, I drifted around amongst the ranks. I struggled to succeed in music. I barely made the tennis team. I waved at the cheerleaders on the sidelines. I was a debater, a participant in all forms of dorky clubs, and a lover of English. In college, I was a Resident Assistant in the dorms and hung out with the music nerds. I couldn’t figure out where I belonged as I darted between the herds. I wanted to find my own people.
Finally, I met a man who would become my husband. He, like me, was a wanderer. A strange fellow without a home. Together, we formed our own pack, and I finally knew the feeling of being a part of something. And over the years, through blessings and trials of all kinds, I saw that I was a part of something bigger. I realized that God was there during all my darting and drifting.
I wasn’t alone after all.
As I grow into parenthood, I see so much segregation. There are the church groups, and the private school moms, and the writers. There are the artists and the musicians and the book club folks. I still find myself sprinting between them and hope it’s not too obvious I’m not a regular. There are times I put on a frilly top with leggings and bangle bracelets and stay in one group for a while, only to feel the longing to leave and join the ranks of another. So I put on my running shoes and sprint quickly through the desolate fields between them. I don’t want to be eaten by wolves. I don’t want to be caught in the middle. I want to be squarely in the pack. For safety.
I wrote a quote to put in my daughter’s room, because I think a mother’s words are powerful. It reads:
Be brave. It’s more important that you try new things and fail than to sit comfortably in an easy place succeeding. Don’t feel that your failures will ever disappoint me, for in those failures you learn character, and strength, and perspective.
Think higher. Dream bigger. God expects you to use your talents to their very fullest.
You are never alone.
Maybe not fitting in is a good thing. Perhaps in the times we are afraid and vulnerable, running in the wide open fields of doubt, we find our true footing. We can rest in the comfort that God is our Shepherd. We can look at the wolves and think you can’t touch me. After all, others are running too. Left and right they dart amongst safe places. We grab hands with these believers and form our own rag-tag herd. We laugh. We pray. And we fail. But we keep on running.
For we are loved, and we are not alone, that’s what really matters.
By Amanda B. Hill, hill + pen
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Glad to be a part of your rag-tag herd, friend.
That was perfectly for me in so many ways! Thank you!!!! Can I share that quote?? Especially with my daughter who leaves for Honduras in two days!!! She’s thinking higher and dreaming bigger <3
Shelly Miller says
In your words – Perhaps in the times we are afraid and vulnerable, running in the wide open fields of doubt, we find our true footing – I think you’re on to something here. I know this has been the case in my life. So great to see you here Amanda. I feel privileged to know you.
I learned not too long ago something about the rod and the staff that shepherds used back in psalm-writing days. One (the Bo Peep one with the crook neck) is to gather a sheep back to the herd when she wanders off. The other is the big stick the shepherd uses to threaten the wolves and keep them at bay. Seems relevant here.
Are we all always secretly looking for our one true tribe?
Sheila Seiler Lagrand says
I needed this now. Thank you.
So I know your post is about finding those people in your life to cling to, but what moved me the most was the quote that you shared with your daughter; this part in particular:
“Think higher. Dream bigger. God expects you to use your talents to their very fullest.”
This is something I’ve been wrestling with since the birth of my son (almost 2 years now). Before he was born, I was an avid blogger. I enjoyed sharing what was going on in my life, what creative things I was doing, building relationships and being inspired by other bloggers. I kept this up a bit after he was born, but the busyness of mommyhood, working full-time as a graphic designer, being a ministry wife and just life changed my priorities around. None of those things are bad and I’m thankful for each blessing that is in my life, but I so badly want to get back into blogging. I’ve had this yearning in my heart for oh so long. And just when I think I’m going to “get back into it”, I freeze. I start comparing myself to other mommy’s who find the time to blog and think there’s no way I can pick this back up. I come up with excuses like, “I just stared at a computer at work for 8 hours–I don’t want to stare at one anymore;” What I have to blog isn’t worth reading; It takes too long to go through the photos I want to post;” the list can go on and on until I’ve convinced myself it’s not worth it, so then I plop myself on the couch and scan Instagram or Twitter. Blah.
I’m not writing this as a “please pity me and tell me what to do” comment. I’m writing it as a revelation that I just need to get off my tush and do what your quote says to do. I can’t keep burying my talents in the ground out of fear and expect something to come from it.
So thank you. Thank you for sharing your heart and allowing God to work through you. It was very encouraging in a very unexpected way.
Now maybe I’ll take this comment, expound upon it and write a blog post!
Amanda HIll (hillpen) says
You are awesome, Sarah. Guilt is a joy stealer. Just start today as a new opportunity to fuel your passion.
us girls have to stick together.
I never felt I fit in anywhere. I was always the odd one. I’m also very much an introvert and don’t open up to people so easily. I am hoping to find others like myself one day and trusting God will hook me up. In the meantime, I just continue on, day by day. I do write and my blog is not quite like everyone else’s. (http://warrriorforchrist.wordpress.com/2012/10/03/kingdom-of-god-part-iii/)
But your post gave me a great deal of comfort and I feel less odd than I did before. Thanks for writing!! 😀
Thank you so much for the inspiration and uplifting.
Dana Butler says
This is encouraging and I identify with what you’re saying… I have a thousand friends and a handful of really close ones but still never know for sure where I fit in. But I’ve grown to be okay with it… loneliness is an invitation from the Lord to let Him meet that deepest need for belonging. Learning and growing in this…. thanks for sharing your journey here, Amanda!
Thanks for admitting to being a part of the ‘don’t fit in’ herd…and for pointing out the advantages of that.
I don’t fit in…but I am engaged in numerous oportunities to be part of different groups. And I love the blessings of diversity I experience in a Bible class with couples who have children my age…and with young Mom’s half my age whose children enjoy commpanionship with my youngest ones…and with music people…and with crafters…and with believers who are SO different from me that our only common bonnd is our Savior.
And yet, I still LONG for a place to fit. A place that feels more home-like; less temporary. A herd that speaks my language fluently and allows me a place of comfort and ease. A team to minister with. A safe family in Christ.
I have struggled all my life with feeling that I belonged. After many many years, I am finally beginning to be okay with who I am, and where God has placed me. As he grows me, more often it is out of my “comfort zone”. I have been pushed to be a “herd jumper”.
Thank you so much for this article.
“For we are loved, and we are not alone, that’s what really matters.”
I got goose bumps when I read your post, especially this last line. You got right into my heart. Thank you for sharing your experience and God’s love.
I hope you don’t mind I share the quote you put in your daughter’s room. My son needs to hear this, every day. (So do I!)
Blessings and love!
Wow, thank you so much for this wonderful post….it says exactly what I’ve been feeling lately! It can be so much easier to stay in safe comfort zones than to find our own paths for the sake of the Kingdom! Thank you for the encouragement to never be afraid to try and fail…how that’s better than not trying at all! Just what I needed to hear right now–thank you! Blessings!
Diana Trautwein says
Herd animals – I like that one. Yes, we do run through some desolate places and then…we find our tribe – again. Some herds we go all through life with; others are for a season. But thank God for them – cuz that’s where we find courage, laughter and a safe place to share tears and hard stories. Glad you’re in one of my tribes, Amanda. Thanks for this.
Amanda thank you so much for this post. You’re so right about trying to find the place where we fit. When you spoke about meeting your husband I can relate, that’s what it was like for me also when I met my husband. I grew up in a big family not serving the Lord and I never knew where I belonged or that I even had worth until I met Jesus. I love the quote that you put on your daughters wall because it’s everything I want for my daughter. I spent most of my young life trying to fit in and being afraid of trying. Thank you so much for sharing! God Bless!!
Kim O. says
Thank you. I just shared that quote with my three daughters. Beautiful.
This was exactly what I needed to read today. Thank you! I’m a herd jumper, too. Thanks for the reminder that we can be our own rag-tag herd and the wolves can’t touch us! I love the quote for your daughter’s room… beautiful.
Katie B says
Thank you! I have so often thought I was alone in all this. When I was growing up I did every sport and activity and have continued to be interested in and involved in a lot of different things. I would often ask God why I wasn’t really good at just one thing or had just one sense of style that was totally me. I would look at other people and struggle with jealousy and felt like they had it figured out. It was until I met my now husband that I have been able to appreciate it. I often catch him bragging about how well-rounded his wife is, something I always thought of as a weakness or less than, God used my husband to point it out as a gift .
(And it was with the encouragement of my mother that I was able to involved in so many different areas of sports, artss, music, theater & clubs. Moms are the best.) 🙂
Michelle DeRusha says
You know what? I’m glad you’re different – that you say what you think and make crazy jokes and fool around and have all of us clutching our guts and rolling on the floor. You’re different…and you rock it.
This couldn’t have been more timely! I purposely wandered from my herd this past week. While I still love them dearly, it was time for me to move on to my next stage in life. Currently I’m in the trees, grazing and keeping an eye out for predators and for my next herd. I may return to my original herd someday, but for now it was time to move on. It’s not easy to leave but it felt necessary….maybe someday I can find a permanent place but for now I wander alone with only my family and God by my side.
Beth Williams says
I had a hard time fitting into one particular group growing up. Oh, I loved music and would join the church choir & do musicals & cantatas. Other than that I didn’t fit in anywhere. I was shy, not outgoing. did not join clubs, etc.
I have often found it hard to fit in and make friends. It wasn’t until recently that I “grew out of” my shyness and started opening up to people. I did a little herd jumping–until I got married and found a unique, most wonderful group of people. The folks at Blue Springs Christian Church are awesome, friendly and very Christlike in their love of people@
Thank you for a great post–especially the poem!
Amy Hunt says
He uses All. For. Purpose., and He grows our faith with each Risk we take. We really can choose courage and trust.
Your worship here is beautiful, Amanda. Rich blessings in the board room and beyond.
i have seriously been on this site all day, then went to check what you’ve been up to, and i get redirected back here! so glad to see you here!
i never thought you didn’t fit in in college! you were tons of fun to me!
and, that quote you wrote for your girl? amazing! i started bawling when i read it, because i’m constantly paralyzed by fear of failure, and pretty much stay in the middle to avoid the wolves. i feel like i’m stubbing my toe on a minute-by-minute basis trying to find His plan for me, and being impatient because i think it’s taking longer than it should. thanks for telling me that the learning’s in the failures, because those? i have many.
Renae Goysich says
I loved this. I read it to my husband who has been something of a loner all his life, and often feels like he is indeed alone. It made him smile. And he has such a wonderful smile. 😉 so thank you for this. It was just perfect.