Maggie is not her real name, but I want to protect the guilty in her community, so we will use a pseudonym.
She lives in a very nice culture. People are educated, well mannered, busy with lots of good things, and broadly committed to keeping their world stable.
Maggie on the other hand, is much more interested in transformation.
The culture is willing to consider proposals for a better external world. If the idea is compelling and she is willing to invest the effort, they often will fund buying some stuff so she can make them look better.
Maggie on the other hand, is much more interested in transformation from inside.
She sees the culture as pretty superficial – clothes, food, events, degrees, vacations, cars and other toys.
Her passion is for big ideas that could be horribly messy in their implementation, that are quite untested in real life, but are full of glorious possibilities.
In short, she doesn’t fit.
When she shares who she is, the response ranges from a dismissive pat on the head, telling her she is so cute, to a discrete strengthening of the barriers to be sure that she doesn’t disrupt their neat world.
As a result, she is lonely and she is unfulfilled, while doing her assigned task in the neat, small, pretty world of the culture she is in.
Most people would default to blame at this point.
From Adam and Eve on, it has been the most popular response to a world that is not the way we like it. If blame were fuel, I could power all of New York City with the blaming emails that come my way.
But Maggie is a woman of substance and has a much better approach to life than to blame, wallow in self-pity, and eventually to self-medicate.
She embraced the reality of loneliness for a considerable season.
She went into sleuth mode and began looking for the rest of her tribe, knowing God had smuggled some other big people into that nice, neat, complacent, small culture. She just needed to find them and spray some starch onto their sorry backbones.
Maggie burned through a lot of people, pinging them with her grandiose questions. The ones who fainted or fought, she put in the One-and-Done file and went on to the next one.
Over the course of time, she found a handful of peers who could deal with ambiguity, could think in abstract terms, and who had enough emotional grounding to entertain a vigorous debate, without getting PTSD!
And THEN, she found out that she had to unpack them and grow them before they were any fun at all.
She stared in the face the injustice of having to do someone else’s work, skipped the blame and the excuses, and set to work growing her community since no one else was going to do it for her.
Along the way, some opted for fitting into the culture in their smallness and walked away from her. But some remained engaged with Maggie and progressively learned how to walk in their design, and how to do community with someone who was not the least bit interested in a stable community.
Maggie wants a dynamic community.
And, she is slowly getting the reward of her hard work.
I, for one, think she is beautiful.
She took on a responsibility that was not hers – growing up some adults who got grown down by their family and culture.
She is classy.
She embraced loneliness for a few years because this crop was not going to go from germination to harvest in ten days.
She is made of tough stuff.
She stayed real, while living and working in a culture that produces some excellent human veneer, surviving a lot of disappointments along the way without becoming cynical about people.
And THAT is remarkably elegant.
So here is to Maggie: Classy, tough and elegant.
A bouquet of beauty worth celebrating.
Copyright January 2019 by Arthur Burk
I realized the other day, what L’Oreal and the like have been onto for ages: Every woman wants to be beautiful! The kind of beauty portrayed in Maggie’s life, is the kind of beauty to strive for. This beauty is the pearl the merchant in Matthew 13 finds and drops everything to buy.
I echo with Maggie, I share her emotion, her vision. "She took on a responsibility that was not hers – growing up some adults who got grown down by their family and culture" - This line made a deep imprint in me. Wow, that is immense! Thank you for sharing.
Amen to Maggie's story. I as well as others I know are vigorously pursuing ,as we can all that God has for us in a broken world. Yes to loneliness and pushback; no to self pity. For me ,God has picked a few to walk this journey of pursuing Gods fullness in this life and rewards yet to come. God has shown me His grace along the path, beauty in trial,truth in my pursuit of it . I can never thank Him enough for all He has done. Even though I haven't arrived totally where I want to or need to....I want to keep trusting Him especially on those days where the fog is thick.
Maggie, you ROCK! Go, girl!
I don't even know her, but I am a fan of Maggie!!!! Go girl!! Live big in a world of small people!! You rock! You are making a difference that has eternal significance and value!
This is so touching and encouraging to keep on keeping on! I rejoice with you! I've also found a few jewels of friends after a long time of loneliness. This just confirms again to keep looking for community and to not give up. Thank you for sharing this.
Looking back on my life and people I've been drawn to, the Maggie's were far and away the most alluring. Early on I confused them with rebels and though interested, I never felt the stamina to run with them, making any encounter fleeting. I missed some great opportunities and it all comes down to a common denominator among those if my kind. Woundedness. Today I can still spot Maggie across a crowded room. What's more crowded though, is the space between me and her. In the wake of deliverance, I am of sound mind and judgement, well able to track with, execute and add substance to what she may already be doing. The crowd between us is the life I've built in spite of myself while engaged in my personal wholeness quest. Suddenly delivered, the bells of circumstance ring louder and clearer, an employee, father, husband and church goer. Maggie is undeniably more attractive in her abstract order these days, but just as far off as when my discernment was mere infatuated emotions.
Maggie's story touches a nerve, "not in step and never will be". I admire her ability to find likeminded people to discuss issues with. This is not so easy and peering in from the outside I have to say: My heart is aching with the circumstances of family and friends. Your methods and tools give me a way to be apart of the big picture instead of standing on the outside looking in. Every change from a bad situation to a good one , I am Praising the Lord! and grateful for being able to bless peoples spirits and implement tools you have shared. I set there saying "Did I have a hand in this success by submitting this problem up to the Lord?". Maggie story gives me hope and comfort to know, not quite fitting in is not so unique. I will continue forwards in my current investigation of implementing your illustrations hoping/praying for a better world today and tomorrow.
This is so touching, I was moved to tears!! God used this story to touch me in a deep way. I am so thankful for the words. I feel hope rising in me to not give up. Thank you for sharing!
"Being subversive and building a counter-culture within a culture is hard." Maggie is a kindred spirit. I'm just learning after 50 years that I'm going to have to seriously invest in and build to remain true to my design. Not "fitting in" has been such a staple in my life that I have wanted to just give up and comply. Clearly my spirit wasn't going to let me allow me to get away with that. Thank you for sharing her story. So encouraging...and a tad scary
Such a amazing story. Such a Godsent contrast to the nightmare I just had that woke me and made me look at your email. Thank you. That is me. Sort of. I am living in a hippy like community. Full of bums who have hidden wisdoms. Homeless who are dirty and a little smart too. And then the repetititious doers trying to get menial pay in a economy here in Hawaii that menial pay will never get enough. If you seek that Enough". Enough is never enough in this society anyway. God is plenty though! Thank God!