What God Is Teaching Me: I’m Not Going to Fit In

This is kind of a painful truth. Everyone has a desire to fit in some place. I’ve struggled with fitting in since I was in elementary school. I went to a school that was basically 99% white and there were about 4 Black students in a school of 400. I definitely faced a lot of racism. I remember one kid telling me to take off my “black skin” and put on my “white skin” because I’d be much cleaner. Delightful, I know. I spent my entire elementary school career thinking that I didn’t fit in because I’m Black.

Then I went to a middle school that had a MUCH more diverse crowd…I didn’t fit in there either. I told myself it was because I was in GT and a theatre kid…we all know how those theatre kids are! The same happened in high school. I could always get along in small groups with people, and I had a lot of friends…but I still feel like I didn’t fit.

College was a mess. There were so many things that people were doing that I couldn’t relate to. Drinking first of all – having an alcoholic father can make one skittish around people who drink excessively. In this culture, a college student who doesn’t drink is like a politician who doesn’t lie.

I find it interesting that two things have happened post college. The first is that I really care much less about fitting in with what’s perceived to the popular crowd in groups that I move within. The other thing is that I’ve found a place where I fit in. God has blessed me with sisters and brothers in Christ with whom I can relate. There’s nothing like sitting around with my two best friends over a meal and talking about how God is working in our lives. And this is not fluffy life-is-wonderful-because-I’m-a-Christian. It’s talking about the struggles that we go through.

Walking with the Lord is heartbreaking at times because it means putting aside what EVERYONE else tells you that you need, deserve, should desire, should covet, should steal, should win, should earn, should whatever. Things that you can see, and taste, and consume, and feel. Turning away from THAT and turning towards the Lord, you who can’t see with your eyes, is not an easy task. Finding someone who understands that is also not an easy task. The bonding that happens  with that person when you do, however, makes my heart soar.

When we focus on fitting in with God, He takes care of the rest. When we forsake the world and the flesh and fill ourselves with Him, we find that we never are never empty.

“Trust the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight”

Proverbs 3:5-6

Book Vs. Movie: Up In the Air

New Series! Over the next several months I’m going to read a book, and then see the associated movie, and compare.

UP IN THE AIR

Brace for landing

Brace for landing

THE BOOK

Overrated ::clap clap clapclapclap::

First of all, let’s be clear. The book is nothing like the movie. Characters that are small in the novel are key in the film. Characters that do not exist in the novel, are main characters in the film. This bothers me…but I digress. Let’s talk about the book first…

How to say this. I like to actually care about the protagonist. Nothing makes me happier, as a reader, then to watch a protagonist make progress throughout a novel. To go through struggles and come out a different person – they don’t have to be a better person, just different. The main character in the novel, Ryan Bingham, does not change. He starts off a sad, disillusioned man, and that’s exactly the same person you see on the last page. Does some other character benefit from this stagnation? No, no, NO!

Ryan Bingham is a man who helps people who’ve been fired (most of which are people he’s fired as a “firing contractor” for companies), to transition to the next step of their career. He doesn’t really care about these people, in fact, I think his disconnectedness from the newly unemployed during what has be one of the most difficult moments of their life is one of the reason’s why I dislike him so much. But he’s not just disconnected from those people, he’s disconnected from life. He travels all over the country firing and and then helping people. He doesn’t bother to make any kind of substantial connection to them.

Oh no, his connection is to travel which he gives reverence. He calls the world of the plane, security check point, club room, public airport bathrooms,  Air World. I personally think it’s a way that he is able to live without really living. As someone who travels very often, I know that I could not make it my world. It’s too transient. You’re not able to connect into anything – which is why the character thrives here.

Ryan has a completely dysfunctional family which consists of two sisters – one who’s a control freak, and the other who’s commitment freak getting ready to get married for the third time. Bingham holds a fair amount of disdain for them, and strategically avoids interacting with them, and when he does, he’s less then helpful. Soo….he doesn’t connect to the people he fires, his family, his ex-wife, the women he sleeps with, he doesn’t connect to ANYONE! What’s the point?! His major goal in life is to get 1 million frequent flyer miles! So he can travel the world forever, right? No!!! Just so he can have them!!! I expected growth, and was sorely disappointed. How am I supposed to relate to such a character? Though you’ll often find me with my noise in a book, I depend on connections in my life.

THE FILM

The film has a similar feel, however, at least I could muster some pity for George Clooney’s Bingham. He seems to be making an effort to connect. He has a relationship with a woman named Alex, who is essential a one night stand in the novel. He takes Alex home to his sister’s wedding where, though there’s a visible distance between him and his family, he still steps up when it’s needed. He has a protege that travels around firing people who him who he mentors and clearly cares about. Though he starts off the film where he ends it, at least we get to see him go on a journey that most of us can at least relate to in at least some small way. The goal in the film is 10 million miles, and while it’s more miles  it doesn’t seem to have the same driving force in this Ryan Bingham’s life. The scriptwriter completely butchers the novel to make an entertaining film, and the effort is well worth it.

J.P.’s Suggestion: Watch the movie, skip the book.