Wednesday, November 2, 2011

otherness


Today, I begin the third week of the gospel immersion course I'm taking from Christianne. If you've never checked her out, I highly recommend that you do. She's a gentle, loving and inviting soul who I've come to adore over the years. I'm a little behind this week in the reading, but today I'm starting the book of Luke.

We've been having conversations in our online classroom about the ways that Jesus welcomes the people in his culture who were outsiders: women, tax collectors, lepers, etc. And as a part of that conversation, we've been invited to share the ways that we might have experienced "otherness" in our lives. That conversation made me realize that I'm thinking about these things differently than I ever have before.

I've always felt terribly weird. (If you know me, you might be nodding your head as you read that.) I never really fit in, no matter where I was. I don't think this is my imagination. I've been told many times that I'm different. (This is polite language for "strange.") It has made me feel very lonely over the years. For a while I tried to find ways to fit in, but that was exhausting. So I just quit trying and that made the loneliness even more intense.

But lately, I've started to wonder if a sense of displacement and non-belonging isn't part of what it means to be human in a world that is so terribly broken. Maybe we're supposed to feel this way. Maybe this is what drives us to God. And maybe the things that make us unique and strange are the most precious refections of God within us.

So I'm embracing my inner weirdo. You're welcome to join the club if you like. We're a little crazy, but we're a welcoming bunch. It's impossible to be lonely when you're surrounded with the broken shards of the world, reflecting light off the edges of our pain.

10 comments:

  1. Terri, your thoughts here are getting me thinking some more about the Tuesday reflection question about the relationship between salvation and healing. I'll share more of my thoughts on that post in the course classroom directly, but I wanted to say here that these words made something click for me:

    Maybe we're supposed to feel this way. Maybe this is what drives us to God. And maybe the things that make us unique and strange are the most precious refections of God within us.

    I'm thinking that it's the brokenness -- and, specifically, an awareness of our brokenness -- that brings our salvation. We need healing from our brokenness, and when we are aware of that need, Jesus comes and touches us and makes us whole.

    The Pharisees had no real concept of their "otherness" or brokenness, perhaps. They were so busy showcasing their perfection and strength. They were so busy getting to sit at the head of the table and wear the really special vestments.

    So Jesus went to those who had no presumption. Or, if they did have presumption (like those "sons of thunder" who wanted to be the greatest and sit at Jesus's right and left hand in heaven!), they were also in touch with their utter humanness too.

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  2. The first time I met you I felt an instant connection, so I'm thinking I might already be in the club? ;) I love being in the weirdo club now, but yeah, I tried compensating for lots of years and I can tell you it didn't lead to anything good. It's kinda fun now being different/strange, and I think you are spot on with being in that place driving us to God. I love the idea that these quirks are the most precious reflections of God within us...I really hope that's true. :)

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  3. christianne: thanks for that reflection. i never exactly thought of it that way, but i have no doubt that you're right. why else would you come to a savior unless you're aware that you need one? thanks for bringing this question to the class. it's becoming very important to me.

    sarah: yay! that must be why i like you so much!

    cheryl: yes, you're a card-carrying member of the freaks. you shimmer. :)

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  4. It's been interesting to observe all the comments that have been posted in that discussion thread so far. A fairly consistent theme is: I've always felt like I'm on the fringes, or on the outside. I shared one way I've seen that happen lately, but the truth is, I've been a weirdo my whole life too. As a kid, I didn't quite fit with my siblings. As an adolescent and teenager, I was awkward and unpopular. As a college student and young adult, I watched very nearly every last friend get married before me until I became the token single friend. And then actually living as a Christian, well ... need I say more? We're all a little weird.

    And Christianne's reflection really clicked with me. The Pharisees (with few exceptions), no matter what gospel you're looking at, do seem concerned primarily with preserving their dignity and position. They are so attached to their positions of honor. And it strikes me that the people who came to Jesus in need of healing were already aware of their deep need -- I can't help but think they lived with a pressing daily awareness of being on the outside.

    And I think you're right: our sense of otherness is probably at least in part of the reality of being aware of the brokenness in us and in the world around us, and a deep sense that this really isn't where we belong.

    I have a love/hate relationship with that particular truth. But I'll fly my freak flag proudly. ;o)

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  5. yeah, you are kind of weird kirsten. i've always liked that about you.

    and i think christianne is so right. the church (in the very best sense of the word) is full of weirdos who are broken (in the very sense of the word). we're forever wandering in deserts and walking into lion's dens and drinking blood and eating flesh and remembering a God who died and yet lives. crazy bunch of freaks. we only get in trouble when we forget to whom we belong.

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  6. ive always tried to fit in, and to be quite honest, have been pretty successful at it. funny thing when you are part of the crowd; everyone there has their own quirks. everyone there has there brokenness. what's sad is that a lot of times we are trying real hard to hide that part of us because we dont want others to know that, in fact, we're all broken and in need of a savior. but it sure is freeing to throw that weight to the side and freely admit at the saviors feet that i really dont fit in. i'm incomplete. i need you God!

    i joined the weirdo's club and i like it....

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  7. dave: you're not nearly as weird as when you lived in dave's world. that place was creepy...all the sunshine and birds singing and everyone smiling and all.

    welcome to the club honey. you're plenty weird enough for me.

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  8. i love this. people were telling me i was weird before i realized that's what the problem was. :) dave's right~ it really is liberating to embrace it.
    i'm grateful my daughter is way beyond where i was at her age. i suffered for my weirdness; she is already embracing hers. (as you saw the other night. haha)
    i fully agree that this is how it is probably supposed to be~ that not fully content and broken place where we recognize our need for God.
    i don't know why i sometimes forget...

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  9. wow Terri...love this!!! Decided to come back and check out your blog tonight and I love this! Miss you, I'm defiantly in the "weird" boat too :-)

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