Have you ever had an experience that was so profound, it was difficult to put words to it? What about when you try to explain that experience to someone – and just when you think you got the words right, the light goes out of their eyes only to be replaced with confusion?  This post has been sitting here unwritten for nearly 5 years because of this very feeling.  Following my previous advice, I am going to write the post – hoping and praying that it is well received.

In 2018, my family and I were together in church.  For a brief moment, a tremendous dissonance overcame me.  I felt completely out of place.  I felt like I didn’t belong.  I felt like I stuck amidst the space between everyone else. 

An interstitial.  A defect in the substrate of society.  A defect that creates stress between the pure elements.

Then I remembered a picture that I drew in one of my college classes.  I’ve probably disposed of that notebook, but I recall the picture looking like a hand drawn version of this:

Simple drawing of crystal with an interstitial defect

The yellow dots represent the regular, pure structure.  The blue dot represents an impurity in the regular structure – an interstitial.  Since the blue dot is a different size, it disturbs the structure all around it.  Everything else is shifted from its status quo because the interstitial causes a little bit of irregularity. 

It causes stress.

We tend to think about stress being negative.  However, we can sometimes apply stress in just the right places and get amazingly positive effects.  By adding stress, we can make things (like glass) even stronger! 

What’s the takeaway?

We might not fit in.  We might cause a little disorder when we move into a perfect environment.  The disorder and chaos we cause might just be what is most needed to make everyone stronger.