Friendship circles can get really complicated and there are times that we may find that we don’t feel like we belong in our existing circle of friends anymore. We try really hard to fit in, but we just don’t feel like we are part of them.
This situation usually happens after a period of growth: perhaps you learnt a new skill, or had an “ah-ha” moment that leads you to take a new direction in your life. It is often experienced by new believers who have recently invited Jesus into their life, or recommitted their life walk to Jesus. Developing new interests and new thinking can also change us so much, that we don’t feel we fit in anymore.
I went through a time like this, where I felt like a fish out of water. The sense of not belonging anywhere, can have us feeling uncomfortable, examining ourselves for fault and feeling rejected. A friend shared a story with me that helped me understand how I felt and what to do. This is for you.
One day, out on the beach, there were a number of crabs living in a bucket. They are happy in the bucket: they climbed over each other and pinched each other, they had fun and there was a sense of camaraderie in that bucket. But there was one crab that had this overwhelming desire to get out of the bucket. He could see the yellow sun, he could smell the salty sea, hear the waves, and he felt the wind over the rim of the bucket. No matter how much he tried to ignore that feeling: the desire to get out of the bucket just grew inside of him.
“It looks great out there,” he thought, “I want to go out there and experience the sea and all it has to offer.”
But the other crabs in the bucket, don’t like the way that he is thinking, they see how it is making him change. They don’t like that he has changed so much, he is not like them anymore – he is different.
Every time the crab climbs up on the side of the bucket, to get out, they pull him down, clasping him with their claws, they moan at him and tell him to stop. “The sea gulls,” they say, “the sea gulls! Can’t you see them watching, look at them swooping down? If you climb out, they will eat you! Stay here, stay in the bucket.”
But the crab cannot ignore the desire to go out. Even if it is scary, deep inside he knows that when he leaves this bucket to go out and experience the sea, experience that life, he is not going to want to come back. He has no intention of coming back. He knows that he will never see his crab friends again, but he also knows that he is going to make new friends.
So one day, he does manage to climb out of the bucket. He goes out and experiences the beach, the waves, the sea. It is wonderful and more than he ever expected, he makes new and exciting friends and his life is so much richer than it ever was in the bucket. He is glad he took a chance and climbed out the bucket, he knows he will never be able to go back to the bucket, or be with the crabs that stay in the bucket.
What is going on here?
- Crab has outgrown the other crabs, his outlook and experience of life has changed. Perhaps it is only for a season, perhaps it is forever. But he no longer fits in the bucket, the bucket is limited, he has grown.
- But for those who are watching his growth it may be hard: they may be jealous, there may be a feeling of loss that they will never experience that for themselves. Maybe their responsibilities or in-abilities limit them from climbing out of the bucket. They will be confused about his need to climb out the bucket; they have meetings together to figure out how to keep him in the bucket.
- Watching the crab grow and the possibility that he will eventually succeed in climbing out the bucket fills those in the bucket with worrying emotions that they have never dealt with before. Which of your friends are inside the bucket, pulling at you with their claws, warning you about the sea gulls? Pulling you back so that you don’t get out of the bucket, knocking your feet from under you. You need to understand where they are, they cannot smell the sea, feel the wind, see the sun. They do not understand what drives you. They only know and have the bucket. It is familiar, comfortable.
Even if the crab has out-grown the other crabs in the bucket, those crabs have contributed to the person he has become, they have a shared history that can never be changed. They are worthy of respect and honor for the role they have played in his life.
- Even though things in the bucket have been difficult for the crab, he still has to move on, regardless. He cannot let them stop him growing, the new life calls him. He may encourage them to get out of the bucket themselves, but the new life beckons and cannot be ignored. If he chooses not to get out, he chooses less than the life he desires.
- In that new life, there will be different crabs: who know what the life you are choosing is all about. They have lived it, they know its secrets. There are other animals too, and experiences, all of them part of the new life, all new partners to move through life with.
- The bucket times are special, and precious – but crab is finished the life he lived there. It is time to stop crying about what happened in the bucket and move on to embrace the new life.
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