The shape I’m in is the shape I am

Published 6:00 pm Friday, May 7, 2021

I appreciate it when people are honest with me.

I don’t always like what they say, but I do appreciate honesty.

“You are an odd person, but that’s not a bad thing,” someone said to me this week.

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I laughed and agreed with him.

I want to fit in — but not so much that I’m ignored or forgotten. I want to stand out — but not so much it gets me in trouble.

I pull inspiration and encouragement (and sometimes discouragement) from odd places. Once, in a seminary classroom as we discussed prayer and hope, I said I was moved by a song I had heard on the radio as I drove to class that night.

The singer expressed his regret over bad choices and his hope to be reconciled and forgiven. I could hear the longing in his voice and it made me think he was talking about more than just love between a man and a woman. Maybe, just maybe, his desire was deeper and spiritual. Maybe it was a desire to be ultimately forgiven and accepted by God.

The singer was John “Ozzy” Osbourne. You could have heard a pin drop. People commented to me that I was odd and unconventional and didn’t act like a pastor by listening to such music.

I thanked them.

“You don’t look like a pastor,” was a comment I got countless times over the more than a decade I served as one. It was sometimes meant derisively, sometimes approvingly, sometimes just an appraisal.

It never bothered me.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life and I hope I’ve learned from at least some of them.

Johnny Cash once said, “You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.”

You learn and go on. That realization — as slow as it has been in developing — has shaped me into whatever shape it is I’m in today.

It’s an odd shape, true, but it’s mine.

Brett Campbell can be reached at