Left out. Third wheel. Excluded. Forgotten. Fifth wheel. Left behind. Odd one out.
I am certain there has been a time, probably a few times, where you have felt one of these ways. It is not a whole lot of fun being the one left out.
Recently I went to an event along with two friends. Each of my two friends had one of their friends with them, two precious individuals who I had not met yet. That meant that there were five total. Viola, mathematically speaking, I found myself as the odd one out. The one without a pair.
It may be easy to assume that this would be kind of an awkward day for me, but it was such a great group of ladies, I was more of the odd one in than the odd one out. Even during the point in the day where we were asked to get in pairs, instead of standing alone between two groups of partners I was invited into both pairs. The only thing weird about that was having to choose which group to join when I had friends in both groups.
I also am a part of an incredible group of three musketeers, where the three of us are all friends with one another. As the only one married with kids, it could be easy to think of me as the odd one out, but somehow I am included as the odd one in. That is an incredible blessing.
While these are awesome examples of being the odd one who is included, I think we could all agree it is probably much easier to list examples of being the odd one out; the excluded one.
I have a heart for the odd ones out. Perhaps that is because I am frequently a big oddball myself.
Do you know the definition of the word odd? Sure, it does refer to the left over after others are paired or being separate from a set or series. When I looked up the word odd on Webster.com I was more drawn to these definitions:
- 4 a : not regular, expected, or planned <worked at odd jobs> b : encountered or experienced from time to time : occasional
- 6 : differing markedly from the usual or ordinary or accepted : peculiar
Not regular. Not expected. Not planned. Experienced only occasionally. Something different from the usual, ordinary or accepted.
There are moments in my life where I think that about sums up who I am. I feel like I have been the odd one out for a very long time in my life.
Does the picture above make you smile? I get a good chuckle out of looking at this one, every time. That silly little girl is now a big silly wife & mother. The picture below is of a recent shaving cream battle my family had in our yard. More evidence that I am an odd one.
Odd can be awesome, but it can also be pretty awkward.
Here’s the thing. I like individuals. I like those who are willing to be themselves, to risk not fitting in to the norms and expectations.
I confess that I am guilty of attempting to please people by fitting into accepted norms and behaviors. I have had periods in my life where I have unhappily strived to meet unachievable goals and to please unpleaseable people.
I have literally had meetings with now former bosses who told me things like this, “Julie, there are no high fives in finance.” and “Julie, you can not be using words like ‘awesome’ so frequently. We would really prefer terms like ‘solid’ instead.” Proof that I am the odd one out.
Here is the sting that comes with being the odd one out; self doubt creeps in, unbelief overwhelms and sadness looms overhead. Why is it so often that different is quickly equated to bad. I am not talking about breaking regulations and moral laws. I’m simply talking about not fitting into “normal” expectations. I think different can be bold and beautiful and joyful.
You know what I think, I think God loves oddballs. I think He counts every odd one in.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:14 (NIV).
He made us and He loves the work of His hands.
To me it seems in the Scripture stories that I read, that God used a lot of odd ones that the world counted out. The woman who had to come to the well at odd times to avoid being so critically judged gets to have a one on one conversation with a Savior. The tax collector that fit in not with the Romans or with his own kind, is chosen as disciple and has the honor of writing one of the Gospels. John the Baptist…do we need to say more than camel hair clothes and locusts for lunch?
I think that sometimes it is the odd things about us that makes us memorable. The things that make us memorable often create opportunities for us to make a difference in this world.
Jesus certainly came as an odd one; a baby in a manager raised as the son of a carpenter. It was not what people expected. They planned for a rich and powerful king, but they got a personal Savior. Not someone distant and removed, but someone who was close enough to touch. Jesus, being odd himself, came to make sure the odd one was counted in. Widows, orphans, the sick, children, sinners and those with questions. His whole ministry is about counting odd ones in.
So my dear reader, I must ask you now, what is going on in your life that is making you feel like the odd one out? Where does it feel like you are making exhausting efforts simply to please others or live up to a norm? Is there an odd or unique gift that you have that you are not using? What difference can using your gift make in this world?
You know sometimes it is the quirky little things that make people smile and make a difference in their days. One of my favorite proverbs says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22 (NIV). I think in this world of the 24 hour bad news cycle we could all use a bit more cheer.
If being odd brings cheer then count this odd one in.
Thank You so much for being odd. Thank You for being markedly different than the ordinary. Thank You for being extraordinary. You are awesome.
Lord, You so beautifully hand crafted a diversity, things in us and about us that are different from one another. You did this to be a blessing and because with Your love You can bring unity among diversity. That thing that makes me odd may be just what someone else is in need of.
Help us to not feel ashamed, embarrassed or less because we are odd, instead help us to feel included and purposeful because You count us in; into Your story, into Your journey and into Your path for us.
In the name of Jesus, who is always looking for the odd one, Amen.