I have never felt like I fit in anywhere.
I am wildly different from my family members, I felt like an outsider at the private school I joined in the 3rd grade, I was the first and only female player in the baseball league for the better part of 10 years, and the list goes on. This desire to fit in, along with the questions that burst onto the scene in of “Why am I here? What is my purpose in life?” was the beginning of my seemingly endless tailspin.
I so desperately wanted to know what my gifts were. I was finally pursuing a career that I had been dreaming about since the age of 5, so you would think that everything was peachy. It wasn’t. I wasn’t fulfilled in any way. The divine discontent was alive and rampant inside of me. In the times when I could drag myself out of bed, I went to workshops, retreats, did online courses, devoured all kinds of self-help books from the library, and still had no luck. I was no further along in finding myself. I was in a state of despair.
That’s when God stepped in. At my lowest low, I was given the greatest gift of all.
It was very late on a Saturday night, my husband was out of the country for the weekend and unreachable by phone, and I was in an extremely dark place…and on the Internet…not a good combo.
My fingers started typing in the name of a church that I had heard about. I had not stepped foot into a church willingly for the previous 20 years, so the fact that I was even looking for one was surprising enough. There was clearly a higher power at work. When I saw how far this particular church was from our house, I knew I wasn’t going to make the drive.
Somehow that website led me to a video of Reverend Marc LaPonce from speaking. I clicked on the video. His topic was forgiveness. Within 30 seconds, I was sobbing, and knew I needed to find this church. I checked the time. It was just after 2 am. I only needed to hang on for another 7 hours.
That Sunday morning, I got dressed, drove to North Hollywood, and walked through the doors of the church. Again, something just took over. The introvert in me took a back seat to this higher power that led me to a spot 4 rows from the front.
Discovering What It Means To Be Loved Unconditionally
I sat there soaking everything in – the music, the beautiful pictures on the walls, so many people flocking to one older lady in the front. I was moved. A few minutes later, we all stood to sing a song together, and I was a puddle of tears. When the minister, Dr. Mark Vierra, stepped up to speak, he told a joke and people laughed. In church! I clutched my imaginary armrests and looked around. Was this allowed? It appeared so. That’s how I knew I had found my home.
Marianne Muellerleile: Her Heart is Big. Her Compassion Bigger.
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What an incredible journey it has been to be a part of this church. It is here that I discovered what it means to be loved unconditionally and fully accepted for who I am, even when in the midst of turmoil. I know I always have a place and people to turn to who will hold up the light and reach out a most loving arm.
The quest to fit in didn’t end with finding the right church. My heart has grown at least 50 sizes from all the love I have experienced there…
But my search still continued.
I still wanted to know where I fit in to the world, and what my gifts were to give. I felt so much anguish in not knowing.
There’s one song from the musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” that stands out for me. It’s called “Close Every Door to Me”, and it comes after Joseph has been sold by his brothers, and is in prison. He’s in a dark place and doesn’t seem to have anything to live for. He says, “if my life were important, I would ask would I live or die.”
What I love about this story is that Joseph finds his way out of prison by sharing his gift of interpreting dreams. He didn’t need to take an extension course or attend a prison retreat. From the depths of his despair, he still had a gift to give, and he goes on to have an amazing life.
I wonder how often we are in our own mental prison because we’re so focused on the not knowing, or we’re trying desperately to get it right. Every time I say “I don’t know” in relation to what the bigger picture of my life should be, I am blocking out all my resources, and edging God out. I create a wall of frustration. I, too, am closing all the doors. When I change my focus to “I wonder…”, I am inviting in the spirit of creativity. This is where the magic lies. This is the place of openness and receptivity.
Something a friend shared recently really struck a chord with me…
“We are often looking for the grandiose ways we fit in, and we don’t realize that there are so many little hits along the way.”
I thought that if I figured out what my career is supposed to be, or if I read the right books, wore the right clothes, or said the right things, that I would finally fit in. Looking back on this past weekend, I would say that the best parts were sitting with a little 7 year old girl and just listening to the wisdom she had to share, speaking to a dear friend in the parking lot after church, giving high 5’s to my softball teammates every time we took the field, and holding a sweet baby close to my heart. Are any of these things life-altering? Do they check the box of finding my purpose? On the surface, maybe not, but they all gave me a sense of my true place in life, which is to be love. What if that’s a gift I can share any time, anywhere? What if we all have that same gift? As Dr. Mark said in church, “Don’t be stingy with the love!”
“As you begin to think more about how you can love your way through life, rather than about how you have to battle your way through life, love will reveal its secret success powers.”
– Catherine Ponder, “The Prospering Power of Love”.
I definitely want to love my way through life. The less I worry about fitting in, the more I can keep looking for ways to share my love with the world. And in all honesty, I don’t have to look that hard.
BY NATALIE SORIANO
Natalie has a passion for personal growth and development, spirituality, crafts and Pinterest boards. As a certified "What If" UP Ambassador, she is happily facilitating groups, coaching, spreading a message of joy and possibilities, and helping people dream their biggest dreams. To find out more, visit whatifup.com here.
Natalie currently lives in beautiful Valencia, CA with her loving, teddy bear of a husband.
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