Baa Baa – I’m a black sheep

Sunday, Wendy choose to color her bulletin about lost sheep and the Great Shepherd. She didn’t have white, so, she colored all the hidden sheep green. It made me start thinking about what color sheep I would be.

In my family, I’m a black sheep. Okay, because of the way in which I stick out, I’m probably more like a  blue sheep in a red herd. At any rate, I’m the single mom in a family with mostly stable marriages. I’m the doctoral student that can’t get a job in a family where people use their degrees. I’m the Lutheran in a family of Assembly of God parishoners.

Every family has a black sheep – there’s Aunt Mary who saves beer cans to decorate the house,

photo by Martin Williams Agency

Uncle Justin, who is constantly looking for additions to his All-Kiwi Cookbook, Cousin Keri who mutters Scripture all through the 3-D movie, Brother Duane who talks to squirrels in the park, Sister Katie who interviews dogs and then there’s Tamara, the family friend that’s close enough to be considered family, but who sometimes gets a little wild at family functions and starts talking about sex.

Often, we see the black sheep as something less desirable. They stick out — in a bad way, a garish mark on the family, something we discuss behind their backs, titter about as a joke or try to cover up with a vow of silence.

I’m not the only black sheep in my family. My dad was incarcerated when I was six years old. He spent months in a minimum security prison and NO ONE TOLD ME, until I was 21. He and I have talked about it since, and he swore everyone to silence because he was afraid of what I would think.

Black sheep come in two varieties. The ones that flaunt their difference, proudly fly their freak flag, revel in the unique characteristics that have colored their fleece. Others are ashamed of their wooly coat.

While every family has a black sheep, there is one family that’s composed of nothing BUT black sheep, the Church.

“Feed my lambs… take care of my sheep … feed my sheep” Jesus to Peter in John 21.


We’re a family whose head is a spotless, pure, white Lamb. In comparison, we are all blackened by sin and shame.

When God looks at us, though, he doesn’t see our black nature, he sees us through the blood of that Lamb, and we are rendered spotless by virtue of his Grace. In the family of Jesus, we are all black sheep, but we’re also supposed to be taking care of our darkly colored brethren – feeding and caring for them, just like family.

Design a new sheep breed – complete with color scheme AND/OR why are you the black sheep of your family?


59 responses to “Baa Baa – I’m a black sheep

  1. I’m not the black sheep per se, though I’m sure people are beginning to wonder what it is I find to do on the internet all day…

    Have you seen a cloudy Oregon sky? That’s the Church, I think. All shades of sin from bright clean looking silver to honest to goodness black piled on top of each other, foreboding and ruinous except for the glorious light of the sun that shines on it and makes it look radient. beautiful as it gathers together.


  2. LOL! This is so good, Herdy. I’ll gladly claim black sheep status. All-Kiwi cookbook…..going with kiwi lasagna tonight. Actually, that doesn’t sound too good.

  3. Ahhaha! I’m the wild sheep? Thank you.

    I wrote about being the Black Sheep a while ago, too– and what I found was that the Shepherd carries me with joy.

  4. I’d probably be the neon purple sheep. I just like that color a lot.

    So, I’m not the black sheep of my family, but I do feel like the black sheep at times around friends. If you knew me in person, you would know that I’m a little loud, a little boisterous and I laugh all the time. Sometimes I feel like the black sheep and as if I have to constrain myself in social situations. Really, why don’t people laugh more?!

    Great post, Kristin! 🙂

    • the best thing about being a black sheep to your friends is that you know they keep you around because they like you, not because they have to (like family). So, they probably appreciate your laughter.

  5. Great post. I’ve always been the black sheep of the family. I’m wild, unfiltered and a bit of crazy. Christ saved me, so now I’m a wild, unfiltered and bit of crazy Christian. See how that works? Ohh, look, a squirrel (eats squirrel – sorry Duane)

    • If someone were to stumble into our little blog community, this post would probably leave them quizzical.

      I like the wild, unfiltered crazy Christian – it looks good on you.

  6. I’d probably say I’m the forest green sheep of the family (not sure why I picked that color, I just like it). I tend to be the one who talks about all the things that nobody else in the family seems to want to talk about. I’m not talking about gossip, just asking things like if a cousin is out of jail yet, or if my dad has heard from his semi-estranged half-brother recently. Apparently, one isn’t supposed to talk about “such things” within the family. Who knew?

  7. Oh that silly Brother Duane talking to squirrels in the park. I had to track him down the other day and walk him back to his house. He kept muttering something about squirrel revolution and apocalypse and tiny ninja swords. He’s one crazy dude!

  8. I think my family is all black sheep. 28 and unmarried? Thankfully, there’s no family yenta knocking down my door. My dad and older brothers got married at 37, 30, and 40 respectively. That’s almost as long as they all lived the bachelor life that I’m still in. I’ve spent most of the past ten years in school, but that’s alright because I’ve come out with a master’s degree 🙂

    On an unrelated note, when you end a sentence with an emoticon, where does the punctuation go? The smiley is part of the sentence, so if it’s like a parenthetical statement, you’d think the period would go afterwards…but then it almost becomes part of the emoticon, like a beauty mark. It’s the Cindy Crawford emoticon! Alright, I’m done now 😉 [space] .

    • Personally, I always type my end-punctuation first, followed by the emoticon. I theorize that the emoticon is wrapping up the previous 2-3 sentences, so it deserves its own place as a semi-new sentence. 🙂

      What I’ve never been able to figure out is, how do you use an emoticon inside a set of parentheses? Do you go with emoticon-space-close parenthesis (like this 🙂 ) or emoticon-close parenthesis (like this:))?

      • yeah, but doesn’t that make it look like you have a double chin? Also, you’ll see the winky-smiley emoticon here and there in the KJV. Those scholars were so ahead of their time.

    • I have a beauty mark – I should start making Cindy Crawford emoticons

      You have a family tradition of being the black sheep – that’s cool

    • Now I have “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” stuck in my head. 34 and unmarried here.

      I usually put a space before the ending parenthesis, especially since some emoticons when combined with an extra ) will produce different emoticons than intended.

  9. I would say in about 1 year i would be the black sheep in my family because I would be the only one of my siblings who couldn’t sit through college to get a degree…blah!!!

    But who knows…by that time I could be touring with my band!!! lol….

    i would be a black sheep in a bunch of red ones….
    I just like that color combination…

    • so, you remember Astroworld. have you mentioned where in the world you are, and might it be possible I could see your band play in person?

      • Well, I guess I could…i don’t think there are any crazy psychos hanging out at your blog! lol…. I live in Houston Texas…

        We used to go to Astroworld all the time! especially when they christian concerts would come….my favorite ride was Greased Lightning….

        It would awesome if you could see us play….but…at the moment we not playing that much…we’ve been crazy recording our first record….but i’m planning something at our church so we will see in the next couple months….

      • I’m in Houston too. let me know when you’re playing and I’ll try to make it out!

    • Red and black? I approve of that color combination. Much nicer than maroon and white! 🙂

      • you really do push the envelope, don’t you, Beaty? I’ll fax over a list of options for you – a list of 4 possible ways I can kill you for your Aggie-hateitude

  10. Actually, I’m probably a white sheep. Yeah I know, I’m just like my dad. Pretty easy to please, even-keeled, mild-mannered and traditional. But, I do like wearing black clothes…. so, I’ll just say I’m baby blue. That, works.

    • of course you would be a white sheep, Dustin 😉 there’s something about your blog and what I know of you and your family from reading your blog that reminds me of fresh linen, so, white and baby blue it is

  11. I’d be a purple sheep…it’s my favourite colour.

    I guess I’m the black sheep of my family. I’m the only one who finished a university degree (one brother went to uni but didn’t finish, the other didn’t go at all and co-owns his own business); I’m the only girl (not counting my mom); I’m the only one who is not married/living with someone…I was going to say I’m the only one with no kids, but then I remembered only one brother has kids; I’m the only one who goes to church; and I’m the only one who doesn’t have a “real” job (supply teacher just doesn’t earn “real” job status since I don’t get very much work…if I got at least 3 days a week, then I’d classify it as a “real” job). And…I’m the only one who probably feels like I don’t fit in with my family (well, except with my mom…if that makes sense).

    • I remember you talking about how close you are with your mom – that’s a great connection to maintain. My mom is my really close friend, so, even though we disagree about a lot, I know I can count on her love and support.

      Purple is my 2nd favorite color 🙂

  12. Fun post, Kristin! I can definitely relate. I’m the purple serious sheep in a family that is pretty raucous and likes to tease. It’s interesting that we all are outcasts in our own way and somehow the ultimately brings us closer to each other. What a beautiful picture of the Church you’ve painted here. Thanks for sharing!

    • I am afraid sometimes that I’m too hard on the Church because of some past hurtful experiences, but when I realize that I’ve damaged that coat myself through hypocrisy or gossip or anger, I begin to see the Church as Christ sees us – as a family.

      being serious in a family of jokesters — did that make you the target of any practical jokes or give you a nickname you haven’t managed to shrug off?

  13. What I love is that Jesus never leaves us the way we find him. We’ll always be spotted, but the longer we genuinely follow him, the closer to pure white we get.

  14. I’m totally the black sheep in my family! I was one of the few to go to college and grad school, which in one cousin’s mind was a Bad Thing. I root for the White Sox, when my family is all misguided in their Cubs devotion. I converted out of Republicanism. I had a wild time in college. My faith is more outside the box. I sometimes swear. Shall I go on?

    And in spite of it all, they still love me. Even though my dad refused to mail in my absentee ballot when I was in college.

    Loved your point that the church is a place for black sheep. It’s making me think about it in a whole new way.

  15. Fantastic read… Something I noticed about speckled and spotted sheep that stand out… they are still desireable. In the story of Jacob, when dealing with his father-in-law, he said “Give me the speckled and spotted sheep…” How prophetic to see Jesus saying that, Give me the ones that stand out… And in the story, it was the stronger healthier sheep, that Jacob put rods before, and he had carved into the rods stripes, speckles, and spots. He made them to stand out, so that he could claim them. Looking back I see my life growing, I stood out apart of the crowds, and this kept me from such trouble that I would have fallen into. How awesome is the Shepherd, to make us stand out, apart from the crowd, to keep us from the danger. If we stand apart, we can still stay near the Shepherd.

    Blessings, and thank you for the story. Sorry if that rambles a bit, just wrote it off the cuff, and a bit late at night to consciously think through editing.

    • I did not remember that about Jacob, but you’re absolutely right. He took the portion of those “tagged” sheep and made them his own.

      I’d love to read your take on this once you’ve fleshed it out, too. there’s so much to mine with the Great Shepherd analogy.

  16. Definitely the black sheep in my family, as the only one who no longer lives within 20 miles of mom and pops, BUT I’m also the only one who didn’t take a “drink” until I was 21… ish.

    A new breed would have to have wings and a horn. 1 horn in the middle of it’s butt, a reverse unicorn. Just cause I’d laugh my butt off seeing that thing.

  17. I’m totally the black sheep in my family. I’m the unemotional one in a family of emotional people (even my brother has a cried at a couple movies that I did not). I’m the don’t-touch-me-person in a family of huggers. I’m the divorced single mom in a family where everyone gets married young and never divorces. I’m the one that seems to just keep going no matter how bad things get when others in my family get really down and depressed (maybe this is because they are more emotional?). I’ll also be the first one to get my bachelors degree and then my masters. I’m the one that wants to know the plan a month in advance when the rest of my family makes plans 5 minutes before the event in question. (I’m a single mom, I have to get a babysitter!) Oh, and I prefer rainy days to sunny days. And I wear too much black, so I am definitely a black sheep, not purple or green or something.

    • well — you’re the big winner today, Jenn, because YOURS is the 2000th comment on my blog 😀

      I can relate to much of what you said – except the emotional part. I’m a total crybaby about sweet things or sad things — but it runs in the family.

  18. I am a white sheep wearing a tie-dyed t-shirt. Bland and boring but with a sense of humor.

  19. If I were designing a new breed of sheep, it would be plaid. This would save epic amounts of money on dye. Pre-plaid wool!

    See, Matt, my marketing genius is multi-disciplinary, and not limited to torturing churchgoers. 😀

    I’m an only child, so I don’t really have a black sheep/white sheep family status. I was the too-white sheep in school. I went to a Christian school, but not all kids in a Christian school are Christian, and not all the ones that are Christian share the same standards. More than once I was the only kid whose parents objected to X as being inappropriate. The most memorable was the time my parents objected to my being in a Gilbert & Sullivan play, I think it was, because they felt the way it handled suicide was inappropriate for kids our age. So whenever the class had rehersals, my mom would pick me up and we’d go get breakfast in town and come back when rehearsals were over.

    I’m still the too-white sheep a lot of times. People look at you weird when you’re 34 and have never had sex, never taken a drink, never smoked, and only once in your life ever said a curse word (thought a few, but only once said one, and that in a car with both my parents. Scared me out of doing it again 😉 ) . Even into my teens, I was the one who couldn’t go to the movie if it wasn’t G-rated. I don’t think I possess a single DVD rated over PG-13 even now. That all makes me weird even in church. It’s uncomfortable being the goody two-shoes in a room full of unbelievers; but it’s absolute misery being the goody two-shoes in a room full of Christians. It’s not just being the odd man out and the party pooper. It’s feeling like you can’t make the slightest mistake or they’ll be all over you to crucify you for being less than perfect. It’s not that you don’t sin; not by a longshot. We all sin. Your sins are just more likely to be the internal ones in the thoughts and the heart, or things you can do where no one sees. You live in fear of failing publicly because you know half the people are waiting for you to fail with glee, and half of them have put you on a role model pedestal you can’t live up to and will be devastated if you do fall. I don’t think I set out to actually write that paragraph, but I think I struck my own nerve somewhere on the way to a point.

    God’s grace, when you’re the too-white sheep, is often found in those few godly friends who want you to succeed while knowing you’re human. They’re not afraid to nudge you if you’re getting self-proud instead of God-fearing, and they’re going to pick you up rather than put you down when you fall. You can be real with them without much risk. And that’s a treasure.

  20. On an unrelated note, now that I’ve got the emotional burst out of the way, I absolutely must sing this, because Black Sheep Squadron was ony of my favorite childhood shows: “We are poor little lambs who have lost our way. Baaa, baaaa, baaaa. We are wee black sheep who have gone astray. Baaa, baaa, baaa.”

  21. I’m the sheep that wanders away from the herd, but always keeps calling, and always comes home.

    I heart analogies. Nicely done.

  22. I proudly fly the “black sheep” banner!! Thank you for the mad props, Kristin!!! Baa Baa, baby!

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