Robert Fulghum wrote a story about a young pastor, finding himself in charge of some very energetic children. He hits upon a game called “Giants, Wizards, and Dwarfs.” “You have to decide now,” the pastor instructed the children, “which you are … a giant, a wizard or a dwarf?” At that, a small girl tugging at his pants leg, asked, “But where do the mermaids stand?”
The pastor tells her there are no mermaids. “Oh yes there are,” she said. “I am a mermaid.”
Now this little girl knew what she was and she was not about to give up on either her identity or the game. She intended to take her place wherever mermaids fit into the scheme of things. Where do mermaids fit into the scheme of things. Where do mermaids stand … all of those who are different, those who do not fit the boxes and the pigeonholes?” “Answer that question,” wrote Fulghum, “and you can build a school, a nation, or a whole world.”
I have been giving that little story some thought. There have been times in my life when I moved from one town to another, one job to another, and one phase of my life to another. As I found myself in a new situation, I took inventory of myself and those around me. I tried to find people who shared my interests and values. Sometimes that was easy and sometimes not so much. As you know from your own experiences, sometimes first impressions turn out to be wrong. There have been times when I thought I fit in with one group of people. But down the road we had not nearly enough in common to maintain friendships. At that point I discovered the gems that became my biggest treasure. They were mermaids and so was I, to use Fulghum’s vernacular.
By now I do have the confidence the little girl had. Years ago, as a result of moving so many times, my initial strategy was to fit in and make friends. Now I now that if I extend kindness and understanding, I will find the friends that God has chosen for me. I have been blessed by incredible people~ and I know that it is terrific to be a mermaid, to be a bit atypical. I stayed home with my son when many of my generation chose to work outside the home. I did not follow the trends ~in lifestyle, clothing, leisure pursuits, even choices of toys and games for our son. From all those standpoints I did not choose to “fit in” with others. I chose to fit in with what I new to be right, just, proper, and according to God’s plan. This at times made me the object of derision with “the popular crowd” — or the recipient of shunning. No matter.
I refused to be pigeon-holed then and I refuse to be pigeon-holed now. That viewpoint is an integral part of me. I have the courage of my convictions–because I was continually blessed to HAVE convictions (I owe ALL of that to my parents, other relatives, and teachers); to ensure that my convictions fit with GOD’S plan (not with as mom put it ‘the fast crowd’ ); and to always realize that staying on that path was much more important than popularity.As a matter of fact, it is one of the biggest joys in my life.
I guess the only thing that surprised me is that other people over the years could see/recognize that in me. Perhaps that is because I have no poker face. Whatever the reason, people with appropriate convictions do end up finding each other. And that is a good thing!
We have free will. We are free to choose our goals in life, and plan a strategy to reach them. In Fulghum’s vernacular, I am a mermaid. And I do not merely stand; I swim, too! God bless your day~and remember: the world needs each of us to be who HE created us to be.
I went to a women’s college at the height of the women’s liberation movement. The message I thought they were giving us at the time was to be career women only, and never consider marriage and staying home with our kids. A number of years later, I fell in love. We decided together that we wanted to have one of us home with our children rather than place them in daycare. I decided to be the one to do that. Years later, I was back at my college for a reunion.
I spoke with one of my beloved professors and said I thought perhaps they were disappointed in me because of the path I had chosen. She got VERY upset with me. She said that the whole point was to educate us and convince us to become women of our convictions. to make our choices based on our understanding of God’s will. To NOT let society or the latest trend define our character. She said that not only were they not disappointed in me, but my choices over the years (both to have a career and to have a solid marriage and raise my child) were proof that I was a woman of my OWN convictions.
And that, I guess is the way I demonstrate my own uniqueness. If you are reading this, you are aware that character, values, integrity, and compassion are important to me. So is laughter. If we cannot laugh at the craziness of life, we are all in trouble.
I hope that you find laughter today. God bless your day~