Friday, November 4, 2011

Square Peg in a Round Hole

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Like any teenagers, my sons have struggled to feel a sense of belonging. As Son #1 navigated high school, my friends and I encouraged him about the common denominator of his age. We've fought different battles with Son #2. In reality, his struggles have the same root. Kids are all trying to figure out where they fit and why they don't fit where they want to fit. Such has been the human condition since the days of Cain and Abel.

From the captain of the football team to the lowliest nerdy or goth outcast in the school, no one feels as if they have it all together nor that they are unconditionally accepted. Some kids wear more convincing masks, but down deep inside, no one is completely at peace and secure. Not even the homecoming queen dating the captain of the football team or the National Merit Finalist.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
When he struggled the most, I worried that Son #1 might consider a permanent solution to his temporary state of affairs. Every time the news reported a teen suicide, I shuddered inside wondering if we might, on some horrible, unimaginable day, find ourselves in that same sad boat. Now, I wonder the same thing about Son #2 on his worst days. It's a fraidy cat world, I tell you.

I email friends at the drop of a hat to ask them to cover my boys with a protective cloud of prayer. Not only do they pray, often they send personal notes to tell the boys that these awkward years will pass and that life gets easier as you get older. Those same friends have trembled with me as Son #1 roared off across the Pacific and into his future. They will rejoice when he returns home for a few short weeks before heading back across the sea. How lucky am I to call them my friends?

Courtesy and In Loving Memory of Christina Jones Hooker
That's the good news. Here's the trickier truth: rarely, in our heart of hearts, do we outgrow the nagging, ill at ease sense that we don't quite fit in. Some days are better than others. Life just clicks along and allows us a brief respite in which we feel loved by someone every step of the day. Those days are few and far between for most of us. Some of us are more paralyzed by the struggle than others.

It's a foregone conclusion, given my life history, that I'd feel like a square peg trying to fit in a round hole. I used to think it was just me. I used to think I was the only one who felt as tho' I was always one step out of sync with everyone around me racing to catch up as I fumbled to get into the right cadence. I'd be a reality show if Holly-wood was interested in telling the world about real people living a real life. I can see the sponsors flocking to that show, can't you? Roll my eyes.

Courtesy Tracy McFerrin Greene
The more I write, the more I learn that I'm a poster child for the disaffected fraidy cats of the world. Truth be told, I'd rather be a Victoria's Secret or Sports Illustrated kind of pin up girl than the poster child for all the lonely  and disaffected fraidy cats. (Sorry Mamma. At least you aren't here to faint.)

Remember this truth on your bad days. No one has figured out the cadence. Everyone is trying to figure out how to shave off rough edges to facilitate slipping into those sleek round holes society assures us are the ones that lead to happiness. Everyone has a fraidy cat hidden deep inside that says you are not good enough and do not belong.

Courtesy Aly Hughes
Wanna know a dirty little secret? I woke up in one of those funks the last 3 days. Wondering what mental illness has seized me that I would get uppity enough to start a blog and hope that people would 'like', 'share', or 'follow' me on Facebook. The conviction again seized me that God has no use for me and that my efforts are wasteful and, in the end, will come to naught. For me or him. I must have forgotten who I was – the girl clamoring to be God's head cheerleader who couldn't even get a job as manager of the team.

Reluctantly, I dragged myself to an event so that Son #2 could have what all traditionally schooled families question us about: socialization. The last thing I wanted to do was socialize. That feeling ramped up when I realized Son #2 was faltering because of some confusing peer interaction. Why had I even bothered? I should have stayed in my shell and avoided the world I would never fit into anyway.

Courtesy Jessica Paine
I did what I tried to teach Son #1 to do. I put on a mask. It's the one I call, “Hey! There you are! You are just the one I've been looking for!” It helps me cover the truth when I think the truth is too toxic for you to handle.

I made my way around the venue from person to person and conversation to conversation. No one knew how hard I was working. I was relieved because it was finally time to head home when a lovely lady I've met only once walked up. She reminded me of our original meeting and then began to tell me how this blog resonates with her. The fraidy cat in me listened with amazement and realized again, we are all just a bunch of stray fraidy cats looking for a place to call home. Welcome home. I'm glad you came. Love you long and strong. See you again tomorrow?

For Tammy in Greer.....because she had no idea! ;-)
Isaiah 49:15-16 (Amplified Bible)
Courtesy B. Creasy
[And the Lord answered] Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yes, they may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have indelibly imprinted (tattooed a picture of) you on the palm of each of My hands; [O Zion] your walls are continually before Me.


  1. Reminds me of how we "call" people to youth ministry.

  2. Sad, but true, how often that happens, I fear.

  3. Had no idea, sitting next to you at Blue Ridge, how much we are alike. Homeschooled my kids, too, and only came out of isolation to give them opportunities to be normal. Loved this!

  4. I have my days of gripping insecurity. Usually they haunt me after a mountain top like BRMCWC! I am a social butterfly who never meets a stranger until I wake up with the voice in my ear that says I'll never fit in, be accepted, etc.

  5. Ignore that voice, my dear friend! When I hear those whispers, I drink some chocolate Silk and say, "Shut up, shut up, shut up" with every sip. In fact, I did that very thing yesterday.

    You, my dear, are an amazing writer. A fabulous friend. I love your feats of bravery. I am so honored to call you my friend.

    I can't wait to read what comes out of your spirit next. :D

    1. Oh, Connie! I have been a wreck today. It would have taken a tanker truck of hot chocolate to cure what ails me! You have NO idea how much you have encouraged me in the midst of my fraidy--you'll never be a writer--cat angst! The Lord has been so gracious to surround me with friends like you who believe in me when I don't!

  6. Carol Anne, keep writing because if just one piece of writing encourages, helps, moves someone then it's all worth it. Give yourself some credit and know that you are an amazing person. Keep blogging in the knowledge that every time you write something it may be that one piece that keeps someone going for the day. Love ya special lady :)

    1. Thank you for that timely reminder. Thank you. Sometimes it is a comment like yours that keeps ME going on that particular day! Blogging is a solitary effort, and so often I have no idea if something resonates even tho' it may be resonating with many. Yours is the 2nd such reminder I've gotten today re the things happening around me of which I am unaware. Guess I better sit up and take notice if I've heard it x2, huh? ;-) love you too!

  7. Society is the stubborn, inflexible, so-sure-it's-right toddler trying to pound every "peg" into the same hole, whether it fits or not. I've just figured out, pretty recently, that everyone feels like they don't belong, Carol Anne. Because we aren't pegs at all, but utterly unique individuals, lovingly crafted by our Creator. He didn't make us to fit. He made us to be who we are. The tough part is learning to block out all the negative messages and to accept our individual uniqueness. I'm still learning to do that and we say, yeah, being a teenager in this world simply stinks.