As stated before, I absolutely love it here. There is only one thing I could think of that I would like to change – the color of our license plate. Our license plate is red, and while I have nothing against that color, I have seen no other license plates that are red. With all the places we have driven in the 9 weeks we have been here, not one red license plate has appeared. I am beginning to think we are the only one. While I know that is a silly thought, I don’t like the loneliness that the red license plate brings along with it, and I certainly don’t like the stares we get because of it. The license plate labels us as temporary, as it is put on cars that won’t be permanently in the country, and it causes lots of people to wonder who we are and what we are doing here. I don’t like that it makes me feel like an outsider.
If a license plate is a red flag that I am not from around here, speaking English in the grocery store is like holding a huge, neon sign above my head. I am not at all mad at anyone for looking my way when they hear me speaking English. I would certainly look in someone’s direction if I heard them speaking French at the Walmart in Forney, Texas, but it just reminds me that I don’t quite fit in. Even when I try to speak French with the best accent I possibly can, there is a still little something in my word choice or syntax that indicates I am not a native. Sometimes, I wish I could fit in a little better.
A red license plate and speaking English are very material things that cause us to stand out, but to be honest I have always felt a little “different.” I even felt different in Texas surrounded by people who grew up in the same conditions as me, and I know why. The only explanation is God. I have given him my life, and allowed the Holy Spirit to mold me and grow me into looking more like Jesus each and every day. God’s word teaches us that being different is not at all a bad thing. In fact, we are called to be just that.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing, and perfect will. Romans 12:2
I may be a foreigner in France, but as I have talked about on this blog before, nowhere on this Earth is actually my home. I will be a foreigner wherever I go. If we have faith in Jesus, we will stick out, just like he did when he walked the Earth. Sticking out is part of God’s plan! If we seek Him in all that we do, we are going to look different. If we look different, people are going to wonder about us. If they ask me why I am so different, I can joyfully share the love of Jesus with them!!
I love the book/movie Wonder about a boy with Treacher Collins syndrome who goes to public school for the first time. He struggles to fit in because he looks so physically different from everyone else. One of my favorite parts of the movie is when his family is dropping him off for his first day and his sister whispers to him, “If they stare, let them stare. You can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.” I feel like that is what God says to us as believers! He has called us to stand out. Through Auggie standing out in Wonder, his classmates learn to love and accept each other. I know that God uses believers standing out to bring others to him.
So, our red license plate and my American wording doesn’t bother me much anymore. However, I pray that isn’t what causes people to stop and stare. I pray that it is my love for others and my joy in tough circumstances that I have because of the Lord. Only through God am I able to look different from the world. This song by Micah Tyler has become my prayer:
I wanna be different
I wanna be changed
‘Til all of me is gone
And all that remains
Is a fire so bright
The whole world can see
That there’s something different
So come and be different
Dear Lord, thank you for molding and growing me to look more like your son every day. I pray that through your work in me, I may stick out like a bright fire. Please use my countercultural actions to draw others to a saving faith in you. Amen.