My guest this week is Michelle DeRusha. I had the pleasure of meeting Michelle last year at the Jumping Tandem Retreat, and hearing her speak. She shares her journey in faith with honesty and in a way others can relate to...and I appreciate that. You can read her story on her blog and in her first book Spiritual Misfit: A Memoir of Uneasy Faith, which will be released in April of this year. Please join me in welcoming Michelle here and show her some comment love. ~Laura
We stood side-by-side in front of the case, the lunch crowd pressing loud and boisterous behind us. My friend bent down, hands on her knees, to admire the delicate chocolate confections arranged in perfect rows behind the glass. Her hair fell in gentle waves over her shoulders. I watched the man with the white apron tied around his waist watch my friend. Her eyes, blue like the Caribbean, settled on a dark chocolate truffle. His eyes settled on her.
“You like? You want to try, for free?” the man with the apron asked, sliding a truffle from the tray. He looked like an expectant puppy as he handed my friend the chocolate, waiting for her approval, her delight. My friend’s eyes darted toward mine before she took a dainty bite. The man with the white apron didn’t offer a free chocolate to me.
That was the way it always was with Rebecca. With her porcelain skin, startling eyes and petite physique, she attracted attention. I was the plain-Jane friend, and I envied her. The way people looked only at her when we crossed the street; the way her cardigan draped so perfectly over her slight frame; the way she got free dessert, just by showing up. I envied her at work, too – her status as a senior editor at the magazine; her article on pre-Raphaelite artists featured as the cover story. I wanted what Rebecca had: the piercing eyes, the cashmere cardigans, the cover-story status.
Nearly twenty years have passed since I worked at that New York magazine, but not all that much has changed. I’ve lost touch with Rebecca, but others have slid into her spot. I may not pine for free truffles or the admiring gaze of bakers wearing white aprons, but I still covet plum assignments, status and praise. I still yearn to be acknowledged and known.
Not too long ago a guest post I submitted was rejected by an online magazine. This is standard, I realize, for the writing profession. Not every article, book and blog post will be accepted. But still, it hurts. Rejection always makes me doubt myself and my abilities. It always makes me feel less-than. And it always fuels the hot flames of comparison.
Turned out, though, the rejection itself wasn’t the real problem. The real issue, I realized, was that I wanted to belong. I wanted to part of the “in crowd,” the group of contributors who regularly wrote for the online magazine.
Twenty years ago I wanted what Rebecca had; now I wanted what these writers had: status, recognition, a place in the “in crowd.”
Recently I sat in the audience at a conference and listened as my friend Deidra reminded us of an important truth, a truth that so often gets crowded out in my own mind by comparison, envy and coveting.
“No one is going to live the life God has ordained for you,” Deidra said. “When God creates us and redeems us, he gives us a unique purpose for the here and now.”
I forget that so often and so easily. I forget that God has given me a holy, unique purpose –a life unlike any other single person’s life on earth. Rebecca has her own unique purpose, as do the members of every in-crowd, as do you and I.
I’d been so busy looking outward, I’d forgotten that I have God-given value and worth. I’d forgotten that I have something to contribute, too, whether I am part of the “in crowd” or not. I’d forgotten that God has ordained a purpose and a life that is just exactly right and perfect for me.
A Massachusetts native, Michelle DeRusha moved to Nebraska in 2001, where she discovered the Great Plains, grasshoppers the size of Cornish hens...and God. Michelle writes about finding and keeping faith in the everyday at michellederusha.com, as well as for the Lincoln Journal Star, Prodigal Magazine and The High Calling.
She's mom to two bug-loving boys, Noah and Rowan, and is married to Brad, an English professor who reads Moby Dick for fun. Her first book, Spiritual Misfit: A Memoir of Uneasy Faith, will be published in April 2014.