Monday, February 20, 2012

A postcard from the Island of Misfit Toys

One of the blogs I read has the following as its tagline: figuring out whether the problem lies with the square peg or the round hole.

That line resonates with me. For so many years, I have felt like that square peg.

I am analytical, educated, and independent; I'm good at math and technology; I'd much rather speak directly than indirectly. And I live in a culture which highly values those characteristics, when the person bearing them possesses a Y chromosome. (Which I do not.)

But it's not just my personality-and-gender combination that makes me feel like a misfit. Politically, I am more liberal than many of my friends, and more conservative than most of my family members. Theologically, I often find myself identifying most with a camp currently called "progressive." (Some pronounce this word so that it rhymes with scare a tick.)

So in certain churches, I find myself squirming in discomfort as I try to figure out the interaction of square peg and round hole: do I knock corners off myself and attempt to squeeze into a mold created and defined by that group?

I've tried that. It doesn't work.

And attempting to redefine the shape of the group in hope of making it fit me proves to be an exercise in futility. A group that insists that all pegs must be round is not likely to change that view for one square peg... or even for ten.

But I don't find that same square peg/round hole discomfort at other churches, nor in my cohort at school. In those groups, I find acceptance of one another, with all of our differences in personality and diversity of belief. With, not despite.

It's incredibly freeing to live among those who do not insist on conformity... to fit in among the other misfits.

I like living on the Island of Misfit Toys. Why would anyone ever leave?



  1. Plus, a pistol that shoots strawberry jam is way more awesome than one that shoots water.

    1. Agreed! And I'm tempted to correct you and tell you it was grape jelly... but that would be insisting on conformity, wouldn't it? :)

  2. Anonymous3:14 PM

    You're one of my favorite people on the planet! And though my edges are perhaps rounder than yours (just a smidge, though, let's be honest :)), I always VALUE the conversation that comes in spending time with you. It stretches me, and makes me think, and encourages me to spend time in the Word and talk to Jesus about things I probably wouldn't ordinarily. And therein lies the beauty of this whole thing.

    See you in a few weeks! :)

    1. Thanks for never trying to sand down my edges. Looking forward to seeing you! :)

  3. Anonymous6:50 PM

    This post makes me smile. I understand what you mean. I've often felt that way, though I'm no good at math. ;) I feel that way less now though, because I don't care as much. And I know a secret I didn't before - most people feel that way and spend a lot of time trying to hide it, to shave off the edges. The less I concern myself with what other people think, the less I care what shape I or others am. It's a lot nicer than my previous activity of always trying to figure out where I fit. Thanks for making me think - as always. :) xo

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth. You are such an encouragement.

    2. My similar feelings (misfit) led me to decide to abandon the counseling-ministry route. Occasionally I miss it an wonder if I did the right thing. Most of the time I quite enjoy my new route of making "studying" my living. But with counseling I felt like I didn't fit in with the psych people, because I believed sin could have a part in behaviour. I didn't fit in with the reformed church folk because they believed only sin could be the cause and the bible was the only cure to every disorder.

      Then in ministry, I didn't fit in the church I ministered to because I was too analytical, not domestic enough, and liked to study too much.

      I find these are things which I thought I abandoned when I left counseling as my career, but find they have crept back in as I try to adjust to life as a married woman, attending my husband's church, figuring out what makes me a wife, how I can contribute at church, and how to fit in here vocationally.

      But I digress, I wonder- do you think that many people feel this way in some measure? Except of course for the sanguine extroverts. :) I sometimes wonder if/how they could ever feel out of place!


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