Friday, April 9, 2010

Are You A Misfit Too?

Dear Fellow Misfits,
I am a Misfit. And I'm a Christian. So does that automatically make me a Misfit Christian? Probably. I'm a published romance novelist, but I'm also a Christian. Yeah, I'd say I'm a Misfit. After getting to know blogger and author Jason Boyett, ( - check out the review I wrote for his new book in my first blog on this site. Just look on to the left of this text and click on "March") I realized that there are more people out there like me than I thought. So I thought I'd write a blog for all of us, people who are Misfits--loners, self-proclaimed nerds, quirky dance-to-the-beat of-a-different drummers, and independents --in Lives, and in our Christianity.    
Because we don't fit into the normal kind of Christian mold. We are square pegs in a round hole. It's a given. We have lots of non-Christian friends. We have Jewish friends. We read about other religions and we still believe our own. We wonder if things are exactly as we imagine them to be. And because we're Misfits who are actually pretty lonely sometimes, who wish they could just belong somewhere-- when we become Christians, we expect to walk into any church and automatically find our niche there in a way we've never been able to in Life.   
But that isn't what usually happens. Because Misfits looks at things differently. We tend to ask more questions. We seem to want to introduce elements that push envelopes and threaten traditions. And sometimes that is so welcome in churches, but more often, it so isn't. Sometimes it's hard to find your place when you're a Misfit. Sometimes it's hard to understand why churches do things the way they do.   
I'm not saying Misfits are better than other Christians. I'm saying we are different. Believe me, that's not better, just ... different. Does giving it a label make me feel better? Well, sort of. I mean, maybe I can't fit in anywhere else, but now that I know what I am, and have carved out this little spot in the InterWebs, I know I can fit in here, right? And I know there are more people like me out there. Maybe you need a place to come and feel like you're part of a group of people who feel sort of like you. So here it is -- a place.     
Maybe you'll read this and think what is her deal? Maybe you'll read it and think, "Yeah, I get it." Nonbelievers are welcome here too. Part of being a Misfit Christian usually includes being able to listen to the opinions of others, no matter what they believe, without feeling like you're being disloyal to Christ or your church.    
Here's my own personal rundown of traits of Misfits and Misfit Christians:     
  • A Misfit who becomes a Christian, will probably be a Misfit Christian (MC)
  • Creative people are often Misfits, i.e., Misfits are often creative people
  • MCs try to rock the church boat and often get hurt doing it.
  • MCs have more doubts because they tend to analyze things more.
  • MCs often have social phobias and major baggage and tend to get hurt easily. (Maybe some of you don't have social phobias and baggage, but, well, really?)
  • MCs come from a background of not fitting in, but when they first join a church, they think they will automatically fit in because, hey, they’re now part of a big, loving spiritual group.
  • MCs don’t do Christianspeak very well.
  • MCs tend to become bitter and cynical after awhile, if they can’t find their place in a church.
  • MCs eventually try to fit into a church, somewhere, somehow, mimicking whatever attributes will help them "find their place".
  • MCs tend to drop out of church, after trying very hard to fit in, but eventually realizing they just can't keep up the pretense.
  • MCs tend to keep an open mind.
In every blog I hope to talk about things that tend to bother Misfits like me. So here is the first thing that, well, bothers me. 

Churches can be like corporations sometimes, with their own language and rules and cliques. Of course every church is different, but in evangelical churches, some things are pretty much across the board. For instance, the way Christians think they should talk to one another. My experience has been that many people who consider themselves mature Christians, "real" Christians, spiritual leaders, talk a certain way. I call it Christianspeak. If you ask another Christian to do something for you and he says, “Will you release me from that?” You know you’re in the presence of a hardcore linguist. Or if he or she tends to talk in King James' English. I usually recommend that these friends take up working in Shakespeare in the Park, because that talent should not go to waste. 

I never could do Christianspeak well. When I hear the word, "Brethren", I can’t help it, I automatically think of the word "Sistern", which is a deep hole in the ground, though spelled differently. Some of Christianspeak comes from the Bible, and we have it in our heads that this makes it okay. But Jesus met people where they lived and he still does. And in my opinion, so should we. 

Can you imagine if Jesus had spoken to the people at the Sermon on the Mount in today’s slang? I can just hear it – “Yo, yo, my man, I’m telling ya, the meek, like they’re totally gonna inherit the earth! Holla!” They would have thought he was nuts and/or walked away from him. And that's probably why people nowadays walk away from us when we're trying to tell them about Jesus by speaking in an ancient vernacular. They think we're nuts or pretentious or just annoying. 

So here's my question of the week for you: What do you think of Christianspeak? Is it necessary? Does it bother you? Why or why not? 

I realize, after reading this over, that this is a pretty convoluted beginning to the blog, but bear with me, please. I'm a Misfit. Sometimes it takes me awhile to get things right, if ever.

Because I'm a Misfit, I won't be posting an email address here. I believe in the whole "what you say in secret will be shouted from the housetops" deal. (Totally taken out of context!) If you have a comment for me, please leave it on this blog and I will respond to it here. My only request is that any comments left for me or for others be given with courtesy and respect. And because you're all Misfits, I know you'll do that. 

I won't always be physically staring at this blog on my computer screen, but I will check in. So when I'm not here, please, talk amongst yourselves.  
 Peace, Tess


  1. What do I think of Christianspeak...well, I guess I don't really care one way or the other. I do know that if you try to speak to a person who's never been in the church or is a new convert who doesn't know the lingo, it can be so confusing for them that they just shut it all out. I think, like everything else in the world our Creator made for us, it does have a place. But I also think we should be careful where we use it. It only bothers me when people overuse it or use it to put themselves above others. That most definitely is not what our Savior would want us to do. The language of the King James version of the Bible is very eloquent and I believe it's beautiful. But a teenager who's interested in mathematics or mechanical things, may not be so into literature or history. However, I don't think we should use slang. I think clear speech is best, though I'm not really good at that either. Oops! I might be an MC! :) I really liked reading this. I got a letter from my Grandmother today that brought me down a bit. She's worried that I might be 'falling away'. But she doesn't realize the info in the first few sentences of paragraph 2. I don't mean to write a book but I was told all my life in almost every church I attended that I should have Christian friends and only date Christian guys and this made it very difficult for me. There aren't many Christians in my area that are also interested in /all/ kinds of music, fantasy art, anime and sci-fi fantasy books. Yep, I believe I am a misfit. I'm pretty sure I married one, too. :D

  2. Dear Muddled,
    Hey, I feel like Dear Abby! Wee! Seriously, thanks for your comment. I appreciate it very much! Yeah, I think that's what I was trying to say--if our language is confusing or pious or drives people away from Jesus, well, that's not good. And in the blog I was talking about getting all King Jamesy, but there's also the danger of taking phrases that have been developed mostly through clever evangelists and using them as if Jesus said them.

    I mean, if you think about it, telling someone he/she needs to "Make Jesus your personal savior" or "Ask Jesus into your heart" could be very weird to someone who has never been in church, and it could be just plain misleading. (more on that another time). And those phrases are actually not found in the Bible. People made them up in an effort to put salvation in a context that is simple to understand. Nothing wrong with that, right? Um, maybe. But now these phrases have become such cliches that no one really hears them, or understands what they mean. People tune it out.

    I'm really sorry about the letter from your Grandmother. Maybe you can put her mind at ease by reminding her that Jesus said he'd never leave us or forsake us. I don't think 'falling away' is an option for someone who really believes that Jesus is the Christ. Not because we don't doubt, or mess up, or sin, but because I think he doesn't lie. He said he'd never leave us or forsake us, and that's that! :)

    Thanks again, Muddled Mawkishness! And oh -- yeah, you're an MC. I hope you think that's a good thing, cuz I certainly do. Because that means you'll be back--I hope! Welcome aboard!

  3. Tess,

    You hit the nail on the head when you said "these phrases have become such cliches that no one really hears them, or understands what they mean."

    The problem with so-called Christian-speak is exactly that--the meaning gets lost in catchphrases.

    I also agree that it can be alienating (or just a bit nauseating) to people who are new to the church (or just grossed-out by the corporate flavor of many churches). It's like a secret language of piety. I think it probably makes Jesus roll his eyes a little. But that's just me.

    Honestly, I don't think it's necessary, and in fact, I think it's important to resist that sort of thing because ultimately it's lazy. It relies too heavily upon other people's phraseology (which implies a universally agreed-upon meaning); we forget to express our own ideas in original terms.

    Plus, it's just uninspired.

  4. Yeah, 'Zactly, Millyonair! I actually catch myself doing it and I have to make a physical effort to stop and rephrase what I'm about to say. I'm beginning to think that all Christians should stop and think before they ever say anything about God. ha. And yeah, I can also picture Jesus rolling his eyes, shaking his head, slapping one hand against his forehead, sighing, and more, over the things we do, thinking we are leading people to him. ;) Thanks for the comment!!

  5. You nailed it, Tess! I found myself nodding to almost everything on the list while reading your characteristics of a misfit. I was raised in a very religious environment until I was 12 and my grandmother died and pretty much every stopped going to church. I was the only one in my family who attended and while I was brought up Pentecostal, I went to Brethren, Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, and Independents just looking for my niche. The Christianspeak always made me feel....uncomfortable. It kind of pulled me out of the zone to made me think that maybe this Christianity thing was just too outdated to be applied to my own very modern life.

    The traditions and Christianspeak didn't always carry over from denomination to denomination, so I often made "mistakes" that gave people the wrong idea about me. It took me a while to realize that Pentecostals are about the only ones who dance and speak in tongues. And the first time someone washed my feet I had no idea what was going on.

    About the time i graduated high school I was sick of looking for my niche and finding hypocrites and only "Sunday Christians." So, I label myself as eclectic when it comes to religion now. I have explored Judaism, Wicca, Pagan, you name it. So now I'm a blend of religions where I do believe in the powers that be and just try to be the best person I can.

  6. Hmmm…I suppose you could say that I’m a Christian Misfit…I ask the difficult questions, and heaven knows, I’ve driven more than one preacher to distraction with my off beat point of view. But, even though I don’t exactly “fit in” in some ways, I really don’t think I would want to label myself as a misfit.

    And really, if there are so many of us that we can label ourselves, and define our characteristics, are we really misfits? Seems to me that a lot of people have questions, they just don’t always have the courage to ask them out loud. I’ve always thought that most people, on the inside, feel like they don’t really fit in. Don’t we all tend to “fake it” sometimes, acting like we are grown ups, when we really feel like awkward twelve year olds?

    I used to wish I could have the child like faith that my brother had. I am still horrified by parts of the Old Testament, and I totally understand why some non-believers are turned off by the violence there. And even though I’ve been a Christian for 40 years or so, I still find myself questioning the miracles, looking for other explanations. I mean, I believe them, but still…

    Years ago, when I was young, and my brother was still just a kid in high school, he worried that I would never truly believe, because I tend to be logical, analytical…even skeptical. And yeah, argumentative. And I was afraid he was right. Our pastor at the time directed me to a verse that I have prayed regularly ever since…Mark 9:24 “…Lord, I believe. Help thou mine unbelief.” (I love the poetry of King James, although I might not recommend it to a new believer) And just as Jesus answered that man’s prayer, He answered mine as well. My faith in my Heavenly Father, in Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, and in the Bible is strong. My faith in my ability to understand the Bible, in man’s ability to interpret the Bible, in church doctrine…those are the things I still question.

    But these days I don’t think I need to understand everything to experience “the peace that passeth understanding.” After all, God has seen me through 55 years of ups and downs. He has truly been my rock and my shield, my comfort, my shelter and my strength. This is what I know from experience, not from what someone told me.

    So, anyhow, I am very glad that you started this blog. It looks it will be a great place to ask the questions out loud. Sorry this is so long. Thank you for letting me ramble.

    Oh, by the way…LOL “Sistern”. …I always think of that, too! ‘Tho I love to read KJV, I have a hard time listening to anyone pray that way…who are they trying to impress, anyway?

  7. Hey Peeps! I've been so busy the last day or so I haven't had time to check in! I am so tickled to hear from you Nikki, and Kay! It makes me really happy to feel that I wasn't totally off my nut starting this blog. That other people feel this way too. I'm about to rush off out of town, but will write more later. Again, thanks everyone for reading and for commenting!


  8. Nikki -- Well, I think you've found your niche here! I have recently found a church I like. I have not yet begun the journey of trying to "fit in". Right now I'm enjoying just hearing the teachings of a nice young man from Germany!

    Kay -- You made me think! Misfit Christians or Christian Misfits? Hmmmmmmm.... :) My favorite thinga bout MCs (or CMs) is that they aren't afraid to ask questions. Our faith must be able to stand up to questions, right? And I really believe that it does.