I DON’T FIT IN. Those were the words that inundated me for most of my youth.
I was too “American” to be Puerto Rican and too “Puerto Rican” to be American. It was said I was too small to be strong. I was not pretty enough, too pretty to be smart, not smart enough and well…you get the point.
So I did what many young people do when they can’t figure stuff out. I blamed it all on myself. I rationalized that something must’ve been wrong with me. I decided if I wanted to fit in I would have to reinvent myself. I tried, unsuccessfully, to be the way I thought everyone wanted me to be. That meant I had to act a certain way around a certain group of people and another way around another group of people. After a while it was exhausting, but this went on for years. The people pleasing, the resentment, and the struggle to “dress the part” went on for years. I’m tired just remembering it all.
I wish I could tell you that one day I woke up and decided that I was good enough being myself but I’d be lying. It has been a work in progress. Every day I have to remind myself that I am loved and that I am made in the image of God. I dive deep into the life giving words of scripture and I intentionally reject negative feedback from myself and others. I can happily say that I’m on my way up.
In the book of 1st Samuel Ch. 17 a Philistine mammoth of man named Goliath taunted the army of Israel from the Valley of Elah. 10 He said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” When David heard this and saw how afraid they all were he asked “… Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” When he said this, his brother accused him of being a hot shot saying “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”
Accusatory and condescending words from someone close can make most anyone feel inadequate, embarrassed and discouraged but David didn’t let those words move him. He replied 29 “Now what have I done?” “Can’t I even speak?” 30 He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter… His brother’s accusation didn’t faze him; instead he told King Saul “your servant will go and fight him.” But King Saul (who btw was also cowering from Goliath) replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”
Let’s just STOP right there. The Israelite Army is terrified of Goliath. When David valiantly steps up he’s told that he has an evil heart, that he’s conceited, and that he’s only a young and inexperienced shepherd boy. Are these people serious? At least David had the
balls gall to go up against Goliath unlike them.
Okay moving on, let’s get to the part where David finally convinces King Saul that he is well able to fight Goliath. Saul replies “Go, and the Lord be with you.”
38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them
I love this part. He refused to wear Saul’s armor. He acknowledged that they were not for him and he took them off. But wait it gets better!
40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine. You see the pattern here? It was HIS staff, bag, sling and hand.
In the end David gets the victory over Goliath but not before he is mocked and threatened by Goliath. “Am I a dog that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”
I love the story of David. There is so much inspiration throughout this story but I wanted to focus on how David used what God had given him. David was not afraid of being himself. The opposition that presented itself had no chance in stopping him from a great victory using what he already had. Using what belonged to him.
Each one of us has been created with a unique purpose and talent but sometimes it’s hard to know what those things are because there is so much noise around us and in our own heads that we struggle to know who we really are. It is in God’s word and taking the time to listen to what he says about us rather than what others say about us that we can find the answer to who we are and where we belong. As followers of God the father and our Lord Jesus Christ we are not meant to fit in. We are meant to SHINE.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16