Dear Twenty-Something Alyssa McLaughlin
My whole life I have been trying to figure out where I fit. Can you relate? From the time we are in middle school, all the way through college and beyond we are trying to figure out how we ‘fit in.’ Sometimes it comes easily, but other times it just feels like we are the square peg trying to fit into the round hole. We tell ourselves we have to look a certain way, dress in the perfect styles, be athletic, be funny, be smart but not too smart, be good but not a goodie-goodie, don’t show your weakness, pretend like you have it all together, be strong and independent, but not too independent because guys may not like that. The list goes on and on. So what do we do? If you are like I was, I put a lot of energy, too much energy, into fitting in to what I thought people wanted of me.
As a twenty-something I found myself wanting to be with the ‘in’ crowd at church. Who would have thought church has an ‘in crowd’?! You know the people, confident, beautiful, funny, and on the path to success. As a twenty-something I can remember feeling the sting of rejection at not being invited to a birthday get together. Was I not good enough?
It was in this moment I asked God to change my perspective. I wanted to see myself as God saw me. Here’s the deal though, he didn’t answer my prayer the way I was hoping he would. He didn’t remind me that I was his daughter, treasured and loved (which I am). Instead, he spoke to my heart and told me to take a look around at all of the other people who just needed a friend. He was calling me to get my eyes off of what my shallow-self wanted, and redirect my attention to the people he had already placed in my path who desperately needed the love of a true friend, because I too needed their friendship. I needed people I could be open an vulnerable with. I needed to let go of the façade of perfection because, let’s be honest, I wasn’t fooling anyone.
As I began to reach out in friendship to those not in the ‘in crowd’ I discovered deep and meaningful connections.
We are all created for this type of connection to Him, as well as to those around us.
Dear twenty-something, ask God to show you what relationships you are supposed to invest in. These people may not be who you expect, they are older, younger, richer, poorer, and may lack your style, (one of my dearest friends will only wear tie dye). Ask Him to show you how to be a friend.
We are told in Hebrews 10:24-25 “…let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another,” I have discovered there are so many people who crave this type of connection. Let us then be the ones that go first by being the type of friend we all need. Real, authentic, vulnerable, trustworthy, encouraging, and stirring one another up to love and good works.
Alyssa McLaughlin lives in Sandpoint, Idaho and is the Adult Ministries Pastor at Cedar Hills Church. She married Casey when she was 19 years old, and is so glad she did. They have 3 kids, spanning high school, middle school, and elementary, Libby, Chase, and Israel “Izzy.” She is currently working towards her Masters in Leadership Studies at Northwest University. She is enjoying learning and growing in the areas God is calling her. She also enjoys traveling, the ocean, the outdoors, exercise, and warm weather.