Brokenness, Identity

Accepted: When We Want to Fit In

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

I learned to embrace the lies at an early age. I don’t know if it came from being a tender-hearted girl, or if I was just a sucker to want to fit in, oh . . . .from kindergarten on.

From being pushed around in second grade, and bullied throughout elementary school, I was certain there had to be some way I could fit in. I just needed to discover that secret key to unlock popularity. Or at least acceptance.

Believe me, I tried. It didn’t help the day I wore a pair of plaid pants Mom bought from a used clothing store . . . and a boy in my fifth grade class wore the exact same pair. 

Or when I had the “privilege” of getting the assignments to the cool girl who was home with chicken pox. She gave me a necklace with my name on it. Misspelled. But it was from her! Surely, that meant I was on my way to fitting in. 

It didn’t help that I had a singing voice and she didn’t. Or that I had some athletic ability . . . when I wasn’t too worried about messing up.

Which happened far too often.

That craving to fit in drove my every decision as a young person. 

I attended a different junior high than those girls. But our elementary school held a fair every year. In eighth grade, I decided to go. I found my classmates, who had all grown prettier, and seemed as confident as ever. I hung around with the group of girls. 

I followed. Laughed at the right times. Walked alongside, not sharing too much . . . afraid I’d say something stupid. It seemed like they were finally accepting me.

We headed to the bathroom. They all exited before me. When I caught up to the group, the cool girl said, “Let’s ditch Clanahan—” and then she turned. Saw me. 

And an unbearable silence blanketed that little clique of girls. 

Shame seared through me. It didn’t matter that I’d tried so hard. That I had worked to be just like them. 

It. Didn’t. Matter. 

I would never fit in. 

When the grown up version of mean-girls made me feel less-than at my job, it just confirmed the message those mini-version-mean-girls conveyed. 

I was truly less-than.

In my heart, what I craved most was to be seen, acknowledged as having value for who I was as a person.

Those moments scrape away the essence of who God created us to be, and leave bloodied sores. 

They eventually scab over. 

Turn to scars, wrinkling the soft tissue of our hearts, pulling it tight. 

And those scars form who we think we are. 

Many of us carry these wounds into adulthood, wearing them like an invisible cape. Of course we’re not meant for intimacy with people. We swirl that cape around ourselves in protection. We’re not good enough to be part of deep-friend relationships. 

God wants to brush His healing hand over those scars in our hearts. He wants to redefine how we see ourselves. He yearns for us to see the beauty He wove into the fabric of who we are. 

He created us to live in the confidence that we are loved. By the God of the Universe. 

Sometimes, we must acknowledge we’re broken before we can be mended. When an arm breaks, it takes time for the cast to do the work of resetting the bone. 

So too with our self-concept. We see broken. Less-than. UGLY. 

God sees wholeness borne through scars. More-than. Beautiful. 

Healing happens over time. And it requires us to choose to trust God with our brokenness. As we allow Him to stitch together those gaping wounds with the thread of His love . . . the pain lessens.  

When we trust Him with those wounds, the shame of the lies begins to lose its grip. 

Sometimes we have to reframe our thoughts about God. 

Where the mean people try to make us feel less-than, God says we are seen. 

When people attempt to cut us down, or ignore us, God says we are significant. Loved with an everlasting love. 

When we choose to view ourselves through God’s eyes as beloved, treasured? That’s when we begin to see the essence of Himself that He placed within us. 

We don’t have to live with the distorted image the “mean-girls” inflicted upon us. We are daughters and sons of the Most High God. The loving Father. 

We are not less-than. We are enough because we belong to Him.

What about you? What truths has God threaded into your heart about who you are in Him? How you deal with the unkind people in your life?

Here’s a song that has spoken to my heart:

Click to Tweet: Sometimes we have to reframe our thoughts about God.

I’m linking up with #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, and Holley Gerth

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34 thoughts on “Accepted: When We Want to Fit In”

  1. jeanne, this is a brilliant essay – one of your very best, so honestly open-hearted and steadfastly Scriptural. I’m impressed beyond words.

    I’ve spent most of my life being an object of fear and dread, so fitting in wasn’t exactly a problem. Staying on my good side was a survival skill.

    It was not a bad way to develop, because it gave a kind of self-confidence that allowed me to go my own way (for good or sometimes for ill).

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    1. Andrew, having self-confidence—especially in the world you grew up in—was a necessity and a gift, I’m thinking. It was not something I had as a girl. It’s interesting how God works situations in our lives to help us grow into the people He knows we need to be to accomplish the plans He has for our lives.

      Yes, we mess up, but He has a way of redeeming our bad choices, doesn’t He? I’m praying for you, my friend.

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    1. Patty, You are right. We do heal a little more each day if we stay close to Jesus. It’s a continual choosing to believe what He speaks over us rather than what our past tries to tell us. Thank you so much for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing your own story as a reminder that we don’t have to let the script from yesterday replay in our hearts and minds–even though it’s there and it wants to control us. It’s a big assignment to live in Faith that rewrites our scripts and gives us permission to take risks, but when we do it (by grace), we get to live freedom before our kids and for the benefit of other women who are trying to do the same.

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    1. Michele, I like how you worded your thoughts…not letting yesterday’s script replay in our hearts and minds. I’m thankful Faith helps our scripts take on new thoughts and words and truths. Thank you for your insights here!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I can identify so much with this experience as a young girl and how I accepted those lies as truth. I’m grateful God is renewing my thinking and revealing truth where lies have left scars on my heart too. Thank you for sharing your story.

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    1. Elaine, I’m sorry you walked through this kind of stuff too. I’m with you. So very thankful God renews our thinking each day. I’m glad God helps us to embrace His truth so the lies lose their grip on our hearts and thoughts. Thank you so much for stopping by.

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  4. Excellent post, Jeanne. I have constantly struggled against the bullies in my past. I tried fighting back once I got bigger and stronger, but what made me stronger wasn’t lifting weights. It was being confident in who God is. I try to keephis goodness in mind, remembering that vengeance is his. Justice is his. But forgiveness is mine to give. Is it seamless and easy? Not a bit. I just keep slogging forward. Thanks for the post!

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    1. Chip, you’re right. When we remember where our confidence needs to be, those bullies’ words lose their power. When we remember Whose we are, that’s when we can walk forward in confidence, isn’t it? I love where you focus your thoughts: on God’s goodness and that He deals with those who hurt His kids. And yes, unless we choose to forgive those who hurt us, we live in bondage to bitterness. I’m so glad you stopped by!

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  5. You’ve touched on so many tender points here, Jeanne. I wish I could go back in time and share your words with teenage Lois. Since I can’t, I try to make sure my girls know what God has taught me over the years–that we are beautiful and we are enough, just as He has made us, because He is our Father. “You Say” is one of my favorite songs right now too …

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    1. Lois, if it makes you feel better, I wish I could go back and make teenage Jeanne understand these truths too. Your daughters are blessed to have a mama who wants them to see where their true identity lies. I’m so glad we share this song as one that is a favorite. Thank you for stopping by! Hugs, friend.

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  6. Thanks for sharing, Jeanne! I definitely relate to your struggle to be accepted. It makes such a difference when we can learn to see ourselves as God does and believe what he says about us rather than what other people say. I love the song too- I hadn’t heard it before but I will definitely be going back and listening again. It’s a great reminder of truth!

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    1. Lesley, I’m sorry you struggled with acceptance issues too. Yes, when we can see ourselves as God sees us, there’s so much freedom isn’t there? I’m glad you enjoyed this song. And I’m you shared here, friend!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Jeanna, I’m with you . . . so thankful God accepts us for who we are. God has placed friends in my life, but there are still times when I feel like the outsider. As I’ve grown older, I’ve become more comfortable because I know I’ll always fit in with God. I so appreciate you stopping by!

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  7. Jeanne,
    I still remember, rather vividly, going shopping with a group of girls at the mall and being afraid of saying what I thought was a cool or pretty top or dress for fear of them making fun of my taste in clothing. Like you, I kept my opinions to myself lest they be judged. I believe in some ways we HAVE to become broken before we can see ourselves as beautiful. I had to become broken by an anxiety disorder and an abusive marriage before I was ready to embrace how God sees me and leave behind the values of this world. It’s been a lifelong journey and old scars get scraped, but I am so thankful for the beauty God used to heal my brokenness. Absolutely beautiful post!!
    Blessings sweet friend,
    Bev xo

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    1. Bev, your words spoke to my heart. I’ve pondered them all day. The fact that we have to become broken before we can see ourselves as beautiful. I realized, before I was broken, I kept thinking it was up to me to be beautiful. Like I had to do all the work. But, as I’ve worked through the brokenness, I’ve begun to understand that God is the One who makes me beautiful. God is the One who’s accepted me, without conditions. It’s as I’ve learned to walk in this truth that I’ve begun to see myself as beautiful because He does. thank you for sharing a bit of your story and your wisdom, my friend!

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  8. Dear Jeanne, I think you wrote my story! For most of my life, it’s hurt to not fit in. Praise God He has continued to assure me that as Christians we’ll never fit into this world, but we will always fit into His. Thanks and blessings, dear Sister in Christ, for your gentle reminder that we are loved and accepted.

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    1. Alice, I’m sorry you’ve walked this road too. I’m with you, praising God that He always accepts us, and that it’s okay (good, even!) to not fit in with the world. So thankful for your friendship!

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  9. Oh, the human condition! None are spared of these identity attacks and lies. Even as much as I tried to protect my kids and surround them with the knowledge and truth of their identity in Christ, there was no way to shield them fully. Faith and hope in the truth that God will take those scars and make something beautiful in the healing is such a comfort. Beautiful post!! You should share on Fresh Market Friday LInkup!

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    1. You’re right, Crystal. No one is spared the attacks on our identity and exposure to the lies. I’ve tried to protect my boys, and I’ve prayed for them for years in the area of identity and them finding their identity in who Jesus says they are, not what the world says about them. But still, this world is pervasive. I am thinking each person must come to terms with who Jesus says they are and learn to embrace it. I still pray for my boys, but this one has been beyond my control, and I’ve had to (gasp!) trust God with them as they figure out who they are. Thank you so much for stopping by! I’ll try to remember to share on Friday. 😉

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  10. Hi Jeanne – I read this post yesterday and was completely surprised how much it affected me – perhaps touched a tender “scab” that is still healing. I’m not sure – but you have given me much not only to consider but also to use for encouragement and comfort. Thank you for sharing some of the tender, of sensitive, parts of your story.

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    1. Awww, Jennifer. I’m so glad you read and that the words ministered to you. It’s taken me decades to work through and find healing for some of those wounds inflicted before I became a teen. I’m thankful God is faithful and that He works with us where we are. AND that He continues to draw us closer to Himself as He works the sometimes painful healing on our wounds. I’m saying a prayer for you today.

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  11. Just beautiful, Jeanne, and I can so identity. I am grateful that with age, the Lord also brought healing. May we know the truth – God sees us as more than – for the remainder of our days. I loved the song when I first heard it too.

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    1. Thank you, Joanne. Like you, I’m grateful that age has given me the capacity to see and embrace the truth. As I really worked through some of this a few years ago, God showed me the necessity of forgiveness as a part of that healing. I’m so glad that God sees us as more than….. Thank you for sharing your thoughts here!

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  12. Jeanne, this is so beautifully put! I too was ditched by the cool girls. And it’s true that scars remain, “wrinkling the soft tissue of our hearts, pulling it tight.” You’ve brought back tough memories, but they lost their sting long ago. Imagine if we could put all the hurts the Lord has healed end to end. Oh, the power of his grace and love!

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  13. I so identify with this, Jeanne. This line especially speaks to me and gives me encouragement – “He wants to redefine how we see ourselves. He yearns for us to see the beauty He wove into the fabric of who we are.” Such a continual life lesson to find our identity in Jesus alone, isn’t it?
    I recently heard this song, and it deeply touched my heart, too. Love and hugs to you!

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  14. This is so good and Lauren Daigle’s song is my new favorite. Your words echo some of the things I felt and experienced when I was younger. Why does this even need to be something young kids experience? However, these words point me right back to truth and God.

    We are not less-than. We are enough because we belong to Him. Amen!!! Your words today helped me to dig deep and brought me right back to what I have been learning about myself with my identity.

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    1. Mary, I am thankful God brings healing to us when these identity wounds have become deeply embedded in our hearts. I’m so thankful He shows us who we are in His eyes. I’m so glad God used these words to move you closer to Him. So thankful for you, friend!

      Liked by 1 person

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