Ever feel out of place? Unsure if you belong in a spot you're approaching? Amy Boucher Pye helps us find our place.
Finding Our Place
By Amy Boucher Pye
I stood at the edge of the door, feeling awkward. "Are you going in?" one of my colleagues asked as she moved past me to enter the drinks-and-nibbles party.
"Um, I guess not," I said sheepishly, turning and giving a little wave.
Although a senior editor at this publishing house in London, I felt out of place. Standing at the office door looking in, I felt like an invisible barrier kept me from entering to mingle with the movers and shakers of this big conglomerate. Instead of pressing forward, figuratively grabbing the hand of Jesus as I walked through the door, I skulked back to my place of safety on the fourth floor.
That party was two decades ago, when I'd not been living in England for long, and my feelings of discontent partly related to my worry that I'd be singled out as different or other. I didn't like to call attention to myself, having felt a bit battered by the British form of humor, which is irony and banter. But a bigger part of my hesitancy was rooted in my long journey to find my confidence in my identity as God's beloved. In the previous years I'd learned to receive God's love, but life in this different country was showing me that I had more journeying to do.
Day by day I gave God my feelings of unease, affirming that he was with me through his indwelling Spirit and asking him to help me to feel content and at peace. By doing this I was practicing God's presence - that is, calling to mind that as his followers, he lives within us through the indwelling of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. Slowly, over the weeks, months, and years, I started to feel more comfortable and at home.
Jesus promised his friends, soon before he died on the cross, that he wouldn't abandon them but would dwell with them. He said, "Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you" (John 14:19-20). He lives in his father, his father lives in him, and he lives in us. What an amazing mystery!
With Jesus living in us, he gives us the confidence to enter those unnerving situations - not only those that might seem minor, such as entering into social gatherings, but also the more significant activities of comforting grieving friends or speaking out against injustice. As we daily affirm his presence within, we grow in the sure knowledge that he is with us.
While fretting at the door to that party, I could have discreetly put my hand to my heart and said, "Lord Jesus, you live within me. Give me the courage to move through my fears and be your light and presence in this place." This simple practice of placing our hand on our heart can help us affirm the truth of God dwelling within us through his Son and Spirit - anytime, anywhere. No one has to know what we're doing as we pause and remind ourselves of this truth. As we breathe in the breath of God, the Holy Spirit, we can then exhale our worries, anxieties, and fears. With Jesus living in us, we can always feel at home.
When did you last feel out of place? How did you react, and how did you remind yourself that God's presence was with you?
Amy Boucher Pye is a writer, speaker, and retreat leader. She's the author of Finding Myself in Britain, which shares more of her life as an American in the UK, and The Living Cross, a devotional look at forgiveness. Her next book will be 7 Ways to Pray (NavPress, Fall 2021). She loves writing devotional thoughts at Our Daily Bread and with other publications. Find her at amyboucherpye.com, where you can sign up for her monthly newsletter with its prayer exercise for a mini-retreat, and at Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Amy is a guest on the God Hears Her podcast with Elisa Morgan and Eryn Eddy.