One of my favorite movies is Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Belle didn't fit the mold of the community that she lived in. Belle was filled with dreams but the village people questioned her, thinking she was beautiful, but peculiar.
She goes home to questions her father to see if he thinks she is odd. He comes out from beneath his invention, with great googly eyed glasses on and questions, "My daughter, odd? Where would you get an idea like that?"
This morning I was reading from the book "Messy Spirituality," by Michael Yaconelli.
He refers to a story actually found in another book by Robert Fulghum called Uh-Oh. I will paraphrase it. It's about an elementary class that is performing the spring play Cinderella. The teacher distributes the parts to the students, making up various extra parts to include all the students. All except a boy named Norman. He still needed a part, so Norman declared he would like to be the pig. His teacher questioned, "Pig? There is no pig in Cinderella." "There is now," declared Norman. And Norman became a barking pig. Yep, barking. He followed Cinderella around throughout the play filled with emotion. Then danced with joy when the prince carried Cinderella off at the end.
Seemingly an insignificant story. How many teachers would be annoyed with a student wanting to do this? Yet at the curtain call, he received a standing ovation for his barking pig. Odd? Yes. But Norman refused to believe he had no place.
Yacolelli goes on to say, this is how Jesus was. He didn't fit into the Pharisee's script. The script they had written for the messiah didn't threaten their religion, break the rules, act so irresponsibly, disregard his reputation, or befriend riffraff. But Jesus reply was "This messiah does." Our churches aren't filled with exclusively beautiful Cinderellas. But dancing barking pigs who follow the real Cinderella wherever he goes. Filled with odd inspiring, an earthly assortment of Jesus' followers. Sameness is a disease.
Sameness is the cemetery where out distinctiveness is buried. In the sea of sameness, no one has an identity. But Christians do have an identity, We're aliens! We are the odd ones, the strange ones, the misfits, the outsiders, the incompatibles. Oddness is a gift from God and sits dormant until God's Spirit gives it life and shape. Oddness is the consequence of following the one who made us unique, different, and in his image!
I don't know if stand alone in feeling odd. Perhaps. But I think that often we feel isolated in our oddities. The world expects churches to and services to be perfect. Yet here where the grayness the world would like to to trap us, is where Jesus paints: bright, beautiful, odd colors.
It is not going to be easy to listen to God's call. Your insecurity, your self-doubt, and your great need for affirmation make you lose trust in your inner voice and run away from yourself. But you know that God speaks to you through your inner voice and that you will find joy and peace only if you follow it.
Henri Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love
His Daughter- odd? You bet I am. But isn't this where Belle's story is found?
From one religious camp we're told that what God wants is obedience, or sacrifice, or adherence to the right doctrines or morality. Those are the answers offered by conservative churches. The more therapeutic churches suggest that no, God is after our contentment, or happiness, or self-actualization, or something else along those lines. He is concerned about all these things, of course, but they are not his primary concern. What he is after is us- our laughter, our dreams, our fears, our heart of hearts.
Brent Curtis and John Eldredge, The Sacred Romance.