Of Blue Tongues and Blending In

Blue Tongue“What did you eat for breakfast?”  My friend Gina looked quizzically at my mouth.

We had arrived at church a little early, a rare occurrence, clean and combed and dressed in our best for our first Ukarumpa Sunday service.  The day before I had bought a bag of mints in town, which was my first mistake.  It should have been a clue that the ingredients were listed in Indonesian, and two of the few English words on the package were “Cool Blue”.  Not wanting coffee breath to be my first impression on all our new neighbors and coworkers, I had popped one in my mouth as we left the house.

The results were not very cool, but very definitely blue.  Very, very blue.

My tongue was a brilliant shade of turquoise.

This, of course, was the Sunday they ask all the recent training graduates to stand in front and introduce themselves, first in the Tok Pisin service and then in the English one.  I tried my best to be discreet, keeping my teeth clenched while I smiled and laughed (which didn’t look at all odd, I’m sure), and I thought I was doing pretty well until person after person started commenting on my new day-glo accessory.

So much for not sticking out.

I remember arriving in the Philippines for the first time when I was in second grade.  Oh, how I wanted to fit in. . . But I was pudgy and clumsy, and I couldn’t keep up with the gaggle of missionary kids who had lived there all their lives.  It hurt my little heart like the dickens.

This place reminds me a lot of the mission center that became my childhood home, and in some ways I feel a bit like that new little girl again, uncertain and nervous as I try to step into the flow of life around me.  There are days I feel like a walking social faux pas.

I’m having to relearn how to do nearly everything.  How to dress and talk, how to shop and plan meals, how to make friends (especially tricky when you factor in the couple dozen cultures living together here), and even what’s okay to post on Facebook.  A lot of the time I feel off pace and out of place.  And I suspect I’m not the only woman here who feels this way.

Over the past few years I’ve had enough conversations with women from all walks of life to know that feeling like a misfit is a common theme.  I think we’re all a little “off” in some way or another.

I have a theory about why this is.  I think it’s because were not mass-produced.  We’re not churned out like cheap motel prints, hung here and there just to break up the white space; we are masterpieces.  We are created with focus, purpose, intentionality.  The Artist pours Himself into us with passion and care, and He rejoices over every little piece and sparkling facet of who we are becoming in Him.

Of course we’re not meant to blend in!

I have heart sisters who are gentle life-giving greens and blues, some who are rich soul-anchoring purples and reds, and some who bring light like sunshiny yellow.  Some of the women I love are abstract explosions of laughing vibrance, full of passion and creativity.  And not a single one of them is like any of the others.  I haven’t yet met a woman who isn’t fascinatingly, gorgeously unique.

We are His art, beautiful individually, but when we’re together – watch out, buddy!  We are a rippling, pulsing rainbow of worship, all our delicious quirkiness swirling in celebration of the God who celebrates his children.

By the way Ukarumpa gals, if you feel like adding a little more color to your world, I still have the rest of those mints!

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”  Psalm 139:14


  1. Julie Starcher
    Apr 25, 2015

    Just beautiful, Beth!!!! Thank you for being vulnerable and expressing the uniqueness that is you! 🙂

    Apr 25, 2015

    Oh, Beth, Always so perceptive and so uplifting. I must share this with my dear young FB sisters!

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