Shall what is formed say to the One who formed it:
‘Why did you make me like this?’
One one of my normal running routes, I kept noticing this one red berry among a bush full of black-colored berries. After repeated visits over several weeks, I realised that this Little Red showed no signs of shifting to a black hue. I wondered if he was an Early Bloomer or Late Bloomer. I wondered if he played the comparison game, wondering if something was wrong with him. I wondered if he felt weird in comparison to his surrounding kindred.
Little Red was undeniably “weird.” I liked that about him. That’s what made me notice him. When I am running, walking, or hiking outdoors, I always notice the weird. I think you probably do too. It is the weird that stand out to our senses, and their irregular form is what makes them memorable. There is a beauty in the way deformed trees grow at right angles to their straight-formed brethren. Their is an inspired awe at trees that are much larger or much smaller than their neighbors. Their irregularity is their beauty. Their “weird” is what makes us stop to consider them, get to know them better. I think if we dig a bit deeper, their irregular form is what we relate to most on a personal level.
For the past decade, I have felt increasingly weird. I felt juxtaposed among my friends and peers. Not in a way that I didn’t feel included and accepted by them, but in a way that made me wonder if something was wrong with me. The key threads in the plot line of my life did not resemble the key threads and theirs. Not that all of theirs were uniformly the same, but they held certain similarities that mine did not. In many cases their plot lines had gone down paths I couldn’t follow them. Where did that leave me?
I wondered if my brand of “weird” meant that something was fundamentally “wrong” with me. I spent a lot of time thinking over how I might “fix” myself so that my plot line might mirror those I loved and wanted to follow. Beyond plot lines I was bothered by how much of my personality seemed to be at right angles to those I loved and admired. For example, I’ve always been such an introvert. I have to rally myself up for a social engagement. I am completely content spending, what many would see, as an unhealthy amount of time alone. I would much rather communicate by writing than in any other format. I like going to bed early and get up early. I get really, distractedly excited about trees and birds. I like the smell of old books (and yes, I actually smell them). I’d wear sweat pants 24/7 if that were socially acceptable. These are all symptoms of a sickness, right?
I constantly apologized for my weird – to myself and to others. I was so sorry for how I was formed, tried to muffle my idiosyncrasies, tried to fit myself into a different, “normal”, mold. No one was asking me to change. Much like Little Red, my kindred berries in their lovely black hues seemed just fine with me among them, not in the least bit embarrassed about all the ways I didn’t blend in. But I didn’t feel that it was “ok” to be different in the particular regards I was different.
The past few years has provided me with a new perspective on “weird” though. The meeting of Little Red and the recent reading of the verse above speaks to it. I started to realise that I was most blessed by encounters and conversations with people who embraced their weird. They didn’t apologize for it, and certainly didn’t hide it. I felt so uplifted and blessed by their example. It not only made me more interested in knowing them better, it made me feel more interested in letting myself be…well…myself.
So, I’d like to reclaim the word “weird.” I’d like to reclaim it for myself (and for anyone else who feels “strange,” “odd,” or “different”) because, when I no longer think of this word is in a negative or self-deprecating. Now, I apply it to myself because it is true (it is fact), but it is something I recognise as part of the way God made me.
…we are the work of Your hands. (Isaiah 64:8)
…for we are His workmanship. (Ephesians 2:10)
God really knew what He was doing when He made all this weird in nature. How lukewarm life would be otherwise. Without “deformities” in nature, there would be no toothy peaks, no sinuous rivers, no chaotic scatterings of wildflowers on alpine hillsides. Without variation and oddity, landscape wouldn’t captivate us as it does, wouldn’t speak to us as deeply as it does. It wouldn’t surprise us. It wouldn’t envelope us in awe.
I think the same is very true of the oddity we have in ourselves, and the oddity we observe in others. To see someone else’s “weird” on display is to find courage to display our own. I always feel, but such examples, that I should learn to be so bold. There is also so much rest to be found in ceasing to feel badly about who we are and how we are made differently. I think I just got exhausted by being sorry for being strange, so I give up. After all, who am I to ask the Creator of all “why have you made me like this?” He made me like this, and I am certain he has reason.
One day not too long ago, Little Red was gone. Maybe he got swept off in a bird’s beak to another location, to have a little Red adventure, with plans to later return. Maybe he blossomed into black at last, just massively later than most, after enjoying a longer season of Red. If he did the latter, I like to think he’s still red at his core, underneath his black coat. I like to think he’s still weird.
I almost deleted this post, because I thought it might be “weird” to post it…and then figured the irony meant I should just put it out there. I guess I am sharing this as a means of encouraging you, if you have likewise felt apologetic for being “weird” or have felt off-pace and out-of-step with others around you – don’t dilute, censor, or “change” who you are if the motivation for “change” is to simply stop from being “strange”. Don’t think that your plotline is flawed for the differences. We are made as we are made as we are made for a reason, we are unique workmanship- workmanship. Savour that image in your mind’s eye for a moment. We were crafted as we are by a Creator who cares for us, and gives purpose to everything. I believe the more honest we are about what makes us each individually “weird”, the more we embrace and even celebrate that singular workmanship that is ourselves, the more we might help others do the same.
That’s my hope here any case. That is what Little Red helped me see.