Letters to Luthien

Letters to My Future Bride

I’m Not Normal

“It may sound absurd, but don’t be naive
Even heroes have the right to bleed
I may be disturbed, but won’t you concede
Even heroes have the right to dream
And it’s not easy to be me.”
– Five for Fighting, “Superman

Dear Darling,

I’m not like the rest.

Oh I know, everyone says that. They all proclaim how unique and original they are.

They have no idea.

I’m not like them. I’m not normal. I don’t think like the normal person. I don’t feel like them. I don’t act like them. I don’t see the world the way they do. I’m not looking for what the normal person looks for. I’ve never been normal and never gotten along with what the world calls normal.

I never will.

Parts of me are divided. I have a stake in the property of many different worlds, none of which understand the other. As such, I have to conceal those parts of my life from the other, simply to blend in and appear normal.

At times when I was younger I tried to welcome the odd ones and make them feel normal. Somewhere along the way, I figured out I was the odd one. I learned the world and I operate off entirely different paradigms; we don’t understand one another.

That’s not always a bad thing. I don’t want everyone to be like me. I like being original. But as a Christian it goes beyond just taste or preference. Sometimes it’s right or wrong. But sometimes it’s hard to know what is just personal preference (the standards you’ve grown up with, coupled with the “Christian gray areas”) and what is sin. There are some things, even the finer points of faith, that I believe need to be represented. Discipline. Chastity. Wisdom. Sacrifice. Service. The goal is to be at the place where if everyone had the character of Christ that dwells in me, however imperfectly, it would be better. But God created variety, and uniformity “even” of myself would be intolerable.

They tell you as an adult not to judge people for what they’ve chosen. What this actually means is, make people feel bad for being good, and don’t make people feel bad for being bad. I made a decision not to drink or swear or watch horrible movies. This means not joining people when they do these things for fun, because I can’t go along with it in clear conscience. But people are mad at me because I don’t. They ostracize me, because they feel guilty for the things they do. I remind them they don’t have to, much like a woman who has worked hard to become fit and healthy is disliked and frozen out by women who desire her success but not enough to duplicate her effort. Sometimes, I take a stand and people feel condemned. Sometimes, through silence or abstention, they feel condemned anyway. And so, feeling judged or condemned — even silently — they judge and condemn. They sentence me for a crime I didn’t commit.

“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own,” Jesus explained. “As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,” Romans urges. “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”

1 Corinthians says not to associate with the sexually immoral, but says avoiding all in the world who habitually sin would require leaving the world. Yet, it says, do not even eat with those who claim Christ yet are habitual sinners. We are to keep ourselves unstained from the world.

How do you do it? How can you remain unstained by the world, frowning at sin and smiling at the sinner, appealing or coaxing them into the kingdom? They know you don’t approve of sin. But did I draw these battle lines? Did I force the issue, or force the division? Not at all.

Yet I’m excluded. I’m shamed and condemned not for choosing wrong, but right. Very literally, I’m in the world but not of it. I’m weird.

Sometimes I don’t want to be. I’d like to know what it is to blend in; to be accepted, or to have these common experiences with which to identify. To go through these common experiences of high school and prom, a first kiss at 16 and first bittersweet heartbreak at 17. But coupled with that seems to be this foolish, stupid behavior brought about by playing social games and trying to impress peers. I was young, yes, and plenty stupid. But I didn’t have peer groups to entice me into trouble. I was never “foot-loose and fancy-free.” My greatest vice may only have been laziness and a lack of vision or ambition. (I’m more than making up for it now, I assure you.) I was never reckless, never heedless of the consequences.

Everyone else is. They live in the moment. They don’t plan their lives, they let life plan them. Instead of imagining saving up all their love for one person, they sprinkle it around and play at it. Rather than daring to hope for something great, they settle. They don’t establish a foundation for a wife and children before they have them. They overspend their resources, and then complain at being poor.

So it’s hard to find people who “get” me. There’s always some hidden side of me that, if known, gives people to know I’m different. I can talk about work and school and family and friends, but I am furtive to bring up the opportunities God has given me in my “double life” pursuits. Maybe, Darling, if I did find these people, I’d be writing fewer letters.

But maybe that’s just as well. Maybe I only want a few people who get it…who get me. Darling, maybe you’ll be the only one who does. I can tell you one thing. The day you “get” me is the day you get me.

There is an ironclad fragility to being different…to being alone. Outside, you are unbreakable. Inside, frail and brittle.

People are intrigued by me.  They don’t understand me, and yet they want to. They say I’m special, and different. They don’t understand, to be different is to be alone.

Maybe all I’m looking for is something as strong as I am. It seems like everything and everybody caves to stress if pushed enough. I guess anyone would. But I haven’t caved to sexual temptation, or many of the other vices to whose grip people so voluntarily surrender themselves. I want someone with the same strength under pressure. People tell me I’m strong and have a strong personality. I want someone who can match that…who can match me. At least a little. I want to be impressed and amazed, and that just doesn’t come easily for me anymore. I know we’ll have different strengths, and that’s just as well to overlap our weaknesses. But I want those different strengths to be of equal tenacity.

Ultimately, I’ve got to be me. The me continually rejuvenated and reformed by my Savior. The me following the path appointed by His calling, the me constantly striving to be better than my former self, and inspire others to do the same…but me. I must guard and monitor myself to be kind and loving, but I can’t keep obsessing over who thinks what about me. One moment people are doing things that seem improperly familiar to my way of interaction, and they’ll tell me I’m too stiff. The next moment, I’ll do something less formal and more familiar and someone is uncomfortable by improper familiarity. It keeps me guessing, in a constant state of foolhardy social anxiety. I don’t care anymore.

It’s important to be me.

It’s important to remind myself — and you — I’m not normal.

Love ever,
Beren

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January 24, 2013 Posted by | About Me, Loneliness | 1 Comment