I think that culturally, but definitely generationally, there is a lot of pressure to fit ‘the mould’.
I’ve grown up in a world where, if it’s broken throw it away, if it’s damaged throw it away, if it’s too hard don’t do it, and if it doesn’t tick all the ‘right’ boxes then it isn’t good enough, etc. We seem to have adopted this into both our view of ourselves and our relationships too. Not just with our spouses, but also our children, our relatives, our friends, our co-workers and (if you go) the people at church, including leaders.
This approach to relationships is unfortunately so common that it adds to a fear of rejection and the emotion of shame. This in turn adds to the pressure to fit ‘the mould’.
The truth of the matter is that God doesn’t intend for us to fit a mould. In fact, God didn’t create a single mould. Psalm 139 says that we are uniquely made. He made a mould for each of us and then threw the mould away!
For some inexplicable reason, I have grown up believing that because I’m not a ‘sheep’ then I’m not good enough. I don’t make the cut. I don’t fit in. I can’t be useful or obedient because I’m not a sheep.
I don’t wholly ‘blame’ my church background, but ‘the church’ does have a part to play in the adoption, by many, of this (or similar) mindset. One of the reasons for this, I think, is that scripture, can be used to back up almost anything. Over the years I have found that to be confusing, uncomfortable and unhelpful.
Jesus, along with a few others, are showing me, little by little, that I don’t have to fit the mould and be a sheep. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, but He can also be a Good Herdsmen or Good Gamekeeper in much the same way.
I can be who I really am.
I am a pheasant.
He likes me for who I am. He likes you for who you are. In fact, He loves us for who we are. Despite not fully being able to get my head around it yet, He loves us with an unconditional (agape) love and with unconditional acceptance.
So, how can knowing this truth help us in our relationships? Well, firstly, by accepting that we are created uniquely. Then take steps to accept that our uniqueness is likeable, lovable and acceptable. Once we have taken steps to accept this truth for ourselves we will be more able to genuinely extend this (agape) love and acceptance to others.This will be life-giving to them and a blessing to us and we will start to bear much fruit in our relationships and lives.
Like with any other change or growth, it comes with pain which one often feels is too uncomfortable to face and go through. It can even lead us to try to avoid the pain. But, please, (talking to myself most of all here!) try not to let the pain or uncomfortableness deter you. I’m sure that the gain is likely to far outweigh the pain. [The process of growth and change, will take time and involve making mistakes and getting it wrong in order to learn, grow and develop].
Blessings as you discover more of His love and acceptance for you and as you grow in acceptance for who you really are.