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Embracing Weirdness

I actually looked it up in the dictionary. I just had to see if the old joke was true—“Weird (wird) adj. See Matthew Boedy.” Of course that’s not what it said. But it doesn’t change anything. I am weird. I never used to, but I’m beginning to like it that way.

You’d think that once we’re brought into the family of God, we’d leave our weirdness behind as part of that old self. But no. We still sometimes see ourselves as no one else does—stupid, inept, odd, weird. Idiosyncrasies might be one way to describe our weirdness. It’s different for everybody.

It’s different, and that’s the point. Being weird is different for everyone for a purpose—not so you can be excluded from the group, but so that you are part of it.

For those who have not discovered the spiritual gift of being weird, add it to the list. It’s part love, part joy, part gentleness and part of all the others. It’s a wholeness.

The fruit of the spirit—love, joy, peace, gentleness and so on—are not inherently Christian. They are moral both for the believer and the agnostic. They are ideals in our world. But outside of God, they are empty; with God they are filling. Similarly, the gift of being weird can be seen in all people, but it can only be embraced to give abundant life in those who know God.

Being weird does not so much entail embracing and giving to God the things that deaden us and frighten us—our ever-present sins, our anger, our resentment. Embracing our weirdness is more about being more of us—making more cheesy jokes, referencing another obscure movie, laughing one more time at ourselves and others.

It’s about acceptance, but not just accepting who we are. It’s about accepting what we will be. We’ll always be weird. We’ll always be us. We can be changed by God—softer hearts, stronger faiths, more love, a better man or better woman. But in the end, God made each of us weird to ourselves.

We are divided people—divided loyalties, divided priorities and divided selves. We often have many personas, faces people see at different times. We are never whole in the psychological sense. We hold on with all the strength we have to the truth that the only wholeness we can know for sure in this world is spiritual wholeness—that our sin no longer cuts at us, that it no longer can kill us.

Embracing our weirdness, while allowing God to embrace the parts He is working to change, means moving beyond the pain of self-hatred. It means accepting who we are for the single purpose of glorifying the one who made us this way. It means knowing that we all are abnormal because of sin, but also abnormal because that is how God made us. We must separate the sin living in us from the us in us. If we lose that battle, we lose not just who we are but who God wants to be for us.

One writer said the challenge is not so much to define the brokenness that has become so widespread (acknowledging the sin God needs to change) as it is to recall what wholeness is about (embracing our weirdness).

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Being weird, then, is part of the redemptive story—God changing our hearts, giving us new lives and in redemption using what we labeled as traits that exclude for His all-inclusive glory. He uses us. Us in our weirdness. He marries us not according to our foibles or lack thereof—but for what He sees in our weirdness. He brings us friends who are both our long-lost siblings and uncommonly weird in and of themselves.

We must embrace the things that others might not see right away. In the end, those who stay with us for the long haul will start loving our weirdness because it is stable. Someone once advised: Let people feel the weight of who you are and let them deal with it. If we embrace ourselves as who we are—dorky, nerdy, simple, vulnerable—it won’t be defeating. It will be real and inherently strengthening. It will be stable.

Isn’t that what we all are looking for—something stable? We have this faith, this trust, this salvation, but doubts creep. We ride on the roller coaster—up and down, up and down, sometimes upside down. Stability is enjoying the ride, not because we know what is up ahead. But in the moment we are in, we—ourselves, our inadequacies, our fear of being nobody—in that moment, we learn to be weird. We throw up our hands in freedom, learn to scream because it’s the only way for the joy to get out.

[Matthew Boedy is a writer and Young Life leader in Aiken, S.C. He loves seeing weirdness in others and in himself.]

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