Along with a horde of fans, I devoured the culmination of the Netflix hit series Stranger Things this week. Years of anticipation ended in a couple of days. I slouched back in a daze at the end of my binge and struggled to find a new fix. My fingers soon ached from flipping through movies and shows which failed to “click” with me. Why did this Netflix oddity hit the mark while thousands of offerings with more polished characters and stories fell short?
Stranger Things had its flaws, both in writing and execution. As a writer, I usually find it difficult to enjoy books or films which have rushed to production with a great deal left unedited. Yet I, like millions of other viewers, adored the show. I believe this cult classic resonated with many of us, not in spite of its aberrations, but because of them.
We love the weirdness and goofs, especially regarding the characters. They represent our own sense of feeling outcast and flawed. When the children mirroring our inner selves connect as a fellowship, we feel included as one of them. The close-knit group of misfits satisfies our deep need for belonging. The losers bond together, even including the fallen popular folks who didn’t experience the perfection they wore on the outside. As if the writers sensed the profound need of our loser-souls for purpose, those rag-tag buddies embrace a mission larger than themselves.
No matter how many times we’ve reminded ourselves of the shame-lies about our potential, a tiny hope smolders deep in our spirits. We long to believe the hopelessly flawed, like nerds and has-beens, can save the world. Because if these imperfect goofs can overcome evil, the weak embers within us might have a chance to glow.
Perhaps the writers had no intention of striking such a profound chord. They likely meant to entertain us, drawing the audience back to a time gone by while serving up speculative fun. I’m well aware of fiction’s primary objective to enthrall.
Whatever the objective, we responded with far more enthusiasm than mere entertainment could warrant. Intended or not, elements in this show hit things true and deep in a strange and beautiful way. Not just for geeks, but for all of us.
We’re all strange. Weird. Unusual.
In one way or another, you and I differ from the masses. Most of us have cowered in shame when labeled weird. This show encourages us to embrace our strangeness. As we should. As we were designed to embrace our uniqueness. Our Creator is unlike any other. Each person of God is unique. Sculpted in His image, we’re just as wonderfully weird as God.
“I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.
Your works are wonderful,
and I know this very well” (Psalm 139:14, HCSB).
In our strangeness, we each carry unique potential to impact the world. Our embers long to glow with purpose because we are meant for divine influence. Fitting in with the status quo, trying to measure up to the “just-like-everyone-else” or “better-than-the-loser-I-feared-I-was” standard, or any other means of burying our weirdness will extinguish our best assets. No one wants to see Dustin without his nerdy, yet mad engineering skills. No one would steal Mike’s awkward and innocent adoration for Eleven. Nor would we dare insist a ginger-haired orphan should lose her spunk. These features make them beautiful. We connect with the oddness of their lovable qualities, hoping our weird is lovable, too.
And it is.
Our strangeness might be the thing which proves most powerful and radiant, most impactful and relevant about us. What we see as weird in ourselves might be our superpower to move things in the world, to motivate and heal and find people who need our help. Sort of like Eleven.
The hope-embers within us whisper the truth. We are meant to overcome evil and serve a great purpose. Each of us strange folk are created to become heroes of a divine story.
We nerd-champions need to team up if we hope to live out our destinies, though. Outcasts and imposters alike, our only hope to fulfill our potential rests in banding together. Losers, wanna-be’s, and has-beens must gather into a fellowship of strange heroes. The fate of our world actually depends upon it.
There is real evil lurking in the shadows, preying upon the oblivious neighbors around us. If we do not fulfill our potential, the darkness enjoys victory over more than our fallen state. Because of our uniqueness, certain people will connect with our brand of strange. Those folks depend upon us to use our God-given gifts and unusual stories. There are certain people who might never relate to the polished and perfect-looking. We alone have the power to offer them hope, truth, and compassion.
Let’s embrace our weirdness. Unite as strange heroes, warding off the darkness together. Our lives can be the stories which resonate with soul-deep needs. More than pop-cultural phenomena, we might just be viewed as lasting beacons of hope for generations yet to come.
How might you celebrate your unique and wonderful potential this week? Do you have a band of misfit friends with whom you plan to impact the world? I’d love to know how you relate to the themes or characters of Stranger Things. Please share your thoughts and feedback with us in this community. I look forward to hearing from each of you.
P.S. In case you haven’t heard, I have a book launch coming up this month! My band of misfits and I are super excited. We’re having a party on Monday, July 15th and would love to have you join us for adventures and giveaways. Get all the details about the launch party plus special peeks inside the book on my Beautiful Warrior Facebook page. You can also RSVP directly on the Facebook event page for the launch party. If you’d like to pre-order Beautiful Warrior, it’s available for purchase now on Amazon, the New Hope Publishers site, or Barnes and Noble. I’m always delighted when readers ask their local libraries to order copies, too!