I’ve always been a people-pleaser.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve worried about what people thought of me. I’m the girl who always follows the rules (for the most part), goes along with what everyone else is doing, and avoids conflict at all costs just so I won’t be the different one.
I didn’t think that was so bad. After all, wasn’t it good to try to get along with others? But I knew it was becoming a problem when I started going along with sinful actions simply because I wanted to fit in. Somewhere along the way, my desire to be likable had gotten out of hand and I’d started to place man’s approval above God’s. But I felt helpless to overcome it.
Until one day in my early teens, I read a book called The Call and was introduced to the idea of “the One vs. the many.”
The Audience of the One vs. the Audience of Many
In his book, Os Guinness talks about how we have a choice between two audiences – the One (God) or the many (the world). The many, he says, are fickle and easily swayed. One moment they’re praising you, the next mocking you. If you try to base your self-esteem on their constantly changing opinion, you’ll be in for a long rollercoaster ride.
But the One, he says, is constant and unchanging. He knows you completely – down to the darkest secrets in the most hidden recesses of your heart. And yet He still opens His arms and welcomes you in. You don’t have to worry about Him changing His mind because He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8).
Who is better to serve? The one that is unpredictable and unforgiving? Or the One that is constant and true? The second one, of course, you say. And you would be right. It seems so obvious that the One is a far better audience when we compare them like that. Thankfully though, God is patient with us, and He used this book to open my eyes to the truth that I had been serving the wrong master.
We Are Called to Differentness
As TCKs, our lives are often on full display in front of others. We’re the foreigners in a new country, gawked at because of the color of our skin or the sound of our accent. We’re the new missionary kids in a church while on furlough, plied for stories about our strange, exotic lives. We’re the family members who live thousands of miles across the ocean and are only seen every few years.
More often than not, we’re a spectacle. We stand out. Because we’re different. And while we might enjoy the spotlight sometimes, I think that at the end of the day, all of us long to belong. To fit into whatever culture and environment we happen to be in at the moment. Because it’s exhausting to be an exhibit on display all the time.
Dear TCK, I get it. I truly do. But no matter how hard we try, we can’t get away from our differentness. The nature of our lives as TCKs and Christians is that God has called us to stand out. He has called us to be a light on a hill. He has called us to go against the tide of the culture. He has called us to serve the audience of One.
That’s a hard pill to swallow, especially if you’ve mastered the art of blending in. But take it from someone who’s experienced it firsthand: it is far worth it to choose God’s way above man’s. And today I want to share three reasons why.
1. Differentness empowers us to know and speak the truth.
In a world of “my truths” and “your truths,” we can’t expect much objectivity from the audience of many. The human heart is bent on sin and constantly attempting to adjust reality to fit its desires. This leaves us very confused if we try to follow the truth of the crowd.
In contrast, the truth of the One is clear, unequivocal, and unchanging, set out for us in His Word. We have only to read and study it with the help of the Holy Spirit to know it. “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple,” Psalm 119:130 (ESV) says.
Once we choose to serve the audience of One, the Holy Spirit transforms us into bold agents of truth, speaking the Word and embracing differentness. We can rest content in the fact that while the truth of the many is always changing, the truth of the One will ultimately prevail because it is the truth.
2. Diferentness shelters us from the hatred of the many.
The audience of the many is critical and unforgiving. Make one mistake and you’re mocked, hated, and rejected.
When we’re secure in the audience of One, we don’t have to worry about that. We don’t have to live in constant fear of angering the many. We don’t have to be crushed by their rejection. Instead, we find peace in God’s acceptance of us because that’s all that matters. Our differentness becomes insignificant in the face of God’s acceptance.
Once we give up our desire to please man, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7 ESV).
3. Diferentness enables us to love others with abandon.
If we’re always seeking to get in with the popular crowd, we won’t have time to love the unpopular. Even worse, we might justify treating them poorly because that’s what everyone else is doing.
But when we choose to serve the One above the many, we are able to love others the way Christ does. The kind of love that extends to the lowest of the low, the ones everyone else shuns, the ones who can’t give anything in return. Then, and only then, are we able to truly follow Christ’s command to be a light on a hill.
Next time you feel out of place, dear TCK, don’t bemoan your differentness. Instead, embrace it. Use the platform God has given you to shine His light in dark places. And be bold in your mission of proclaiming the immeasurable worth of the One we serve.
Guinness, Os. 2003. The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life. Thomas Nelson.
TCKs for Christ: Writer & Social Media Manager
is an MK from South Africa and has called Africa her home for the past 15 years. As a writer, she seeks to use her gifts to encourage other TCKs that they are not alone. Besides writing, she enjoys reading voraciously, playing piano and violin, and helping with her family’s ministry. You can connect with her at Whimsical Wanderings or on Instagram, @KristianneHassman_Author.
2 thoughts on “The Key to Embracing Your Differentness”
Thank you for sharing this! A good reminder for me. Thank you!
God bless you richly! Keep writing for Him!
I’m so glad this was a blessing to you, Agape. Thank you for commenting!