Out Of Step

I’m out-of-step again.

I was in marching band in High school and, for a couple years, in college. Yep, I’m that brand of geek-and had I discovered the joys of technology prior to grad school, I may have been a dual-geek-band and techie.

Anyway, I was in marching band and our uniforms had these white flappy things that we wore over our black shoes.

When something white moves you notice it.

When something white moves at the wrong time, you really notice it.

When someone was out of step it was a BIG DEAL. If it was at practice where the director could do something about it, a barrage of humiliating, derogatory comments was the usual result. If it was in a performance, well, he’d have time to really work up a head of steam before letting loose on the bus or in the classroom later.

Out of Step.

You’d think, after enough years that high school hurts should have been left well behind me, that being a person who is not much good at conforming would get used to being out of step. I get a lot of practice at it, after all.

Every time my out-of-steppedness is revealed, those feelings come back and I buy it. Every time; like some kind of supermarket sale-“hey, look at this, humiliation is cheap today, let’s pick some up! We wouldn’t want to run out.”

God says we’re good enough, though. That wherever we are and whatever we’ve done, he can handle it. That our path is alongside him and he’s not planning to change course. If we wander off and get lost, or need to stop for some sightseeing, we can find our way back and he’ll still be there.

And that works, for an individual, but God also created us in relationship. Here’s where it gets sticky. (At least for me it does. Maybe you’re clearer on this than I am.) In a relationship with others, a community, it’s not just my path, at my speed with my detours- it’s our path at our speed with our detours.

What happens when you’re out of step with Us? When the path of the community isn’t  your path. And neither path is wrong and neither is wandering or lost.

BAM! Out of step.

Even though God says he loves us and that we should come the way we are and let the rest go, there’s still this human reaction that says I am not like the rest. I should be like them. I am wrong. I should get in step.

And I’m left wondering why I just don’t “get it” and assuming that eventually I will make a few skippy little moves to conform to the group’s pace and direction.

A few years ago I saw a video that shows a particular kind of worm. This worm gets itself in line with other worms, right up to the tail end of the one in front of it and just follows along. Someone took these worms and lined them up head to tail, then put them on the rim of a cup. They did what they do- went around until the lead worm found the tail of the last worm, and ’round in a circle they went with no direction, no one out of step.  No one raising a little leg to say- “Umm, guys. We’re not really getting anywhere here.”

I guess that’s my job as a chronic out-of-stepper. I can be the one who wants to know what we’re trying to accomplish and if the going around in circles on top of a cup gets us there. I’m not someone to follow-I’m just one really little voice that hopes a few more little voices might also have the courage to speak up to say that it’s time to head in a new direction. Then maybe the real leaders can go ahead and figure out where there is and take us to it.

That doesn’t make things better. It doesn’t make them any easier but it does give my awkwardness a purpose. And I can try to believe that purpose helps the rest of  the Us that is my community. If that’ I can endure being out of step a little longer. If I wait long enough, maybe I’ll end up in step someday but I’m not going to count on it.


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