So I’m half way through my semester, and one of the main things I can tell you that I can take away from my Brief Therapy class is “the exception”. When nothing else is working in your life, think back to a time when something was working, preferably something that was working that is similar to whatever “everything” isn’t working right now, or a time when the “everything” was working. Generally something was different. That one different thing was what was helping it work. That different is called the exception. Once you figure out what the exception was – do more of it. It’ll help fix whatever “everything” is going wrong.
One of the ways I remind myself to slow down is to always carry a camera with me. It’s a reminder for me to take time to listen to God, or to be aware of God’s love for me. I have found, in taking pictures, that often my favorites are ones with “exceptions”; ones with the one scarlet leaf or even a cluster of crimson flakes clinging to a towering pillar of golden coins. Pictures with a single white rose amidst a garden of red, or the sunflower that has its held titled just so, allowing the sun to illuminate it, while the rest are pointed in just enough of a different angle so as to not be lit-up.
The exceptions. They’re the ones that make us stop and take notice. They’re the ones that help make things better.
The exception – this is what Christians are called too.
The thing is, it’s hard to be an exception. There is something inside humanity that seems to desire to fit in. And yet, while we want to fit in, we want to stand out. We seem to innately understand that the unique ones are the ones that are noticed, and we want to be noticed and not blend in with the crowd. We want to be recognized for who we are, for the person God crafted us to be, and we recognize that God only crafts unique individuals. We want our individuality to be known, and we want to be loved despite (or even better – because of) it.
And yet – being the exception is scary and potentially painful, and so we also have the instinct to simply be blend in with the crowd. I think we want to fit in because we’re insecure and need the safety of a group.
We’re confused, basically. We want to be wall flowers and the life of the party all at the same time.
Beauty is always unique. The minute it becomes commonplace, it is no longer as easily recognized as beautiful. It no longer makes us stop and stare. We no longer appreciate it.
But being willing to be the one that stands out, the one that everyone stops to notice, is hard. In our currently messed-up world, it means being willing to be ridiculed or worse, celebrated. It is painful.
And yet, this is exactly how God created us – each with our own unique thing that can make others stop and take notice. And as Christians, our lives are supposed to be the exception to the world around us.
There is pain, sure, in being the exception, but there is beauty too. And this is what Christians are called to – being the exception. Being the ones who can fully embrace the being God originally created them to be. Being the ones who accept better than anything else. Being the ones who can see pain and need and joy better than anyone else. Being the ones who can see the exception in others and celebrating it. Being the ones who can enter into others’ pain better than anyone else. Being the ones who love all types – the easy and the hard, the confusing and the understandable, the painful and the happy – better than anyone else.
Be the exception.