Tonight, I was going through some of my old writings and found these notes. While, currently, I am in a place where I feel like I do belong, these words remind me that is not always the case. I wrote these last May as I sat on a familiar patio looking over the lake I grew up on. My family was vacationing at the camp where I grew up. A place that will always feel like home. Yet, something felt off. I felt like I no longer belonged. This camp was the first place to intentionally reject me because of who I am – a decision that I could understand. After all, what good Christian parents would be okay with letting a gay person be around their kids. I thought I had processed this and moved on. Yet, as I walked the paths of my childhood, I realized that there was still deep pain.
“All of the memories of this camp, the feeling of being home, the familiarity of it, are tainted by the realization that I don’t belong. I am not accepted here. I cannot be a part of this place on a core level because of who I am as a person. And that hurts. Despite my rational mind being able to understand why, despite the fact that I agree it was probably a wise decision to not let me be on staff, my heart hurts.
My heart hurts because I know that in the future, if I have a family, at least in the way I currently envision my family being, I will not be able to come to a place like this because my family will not be welcome. It hurts because I want my kids, my family, to be able to come to this Camp and enjoy it, because it still does share many of the deep values that I hold dear. It affirms the Truth that I call Truth. Sure, we don’t agree on everything, but it is a place of wisdom, and I want to be able to glean that wisdom with my husband, with my kids. And who knows, maybe, if I do have a husband and a family we will be brave enough to attempt to come to this place. I hope so. But I don’t know. It may cause more harm than good.
And yet, as I ponder this not-belonging, I find God asking me, why do you need to belong? You don’t need to belong. You are not called to belong. You are not supposed to belong. And it is true. I think about this. As a believer, as a follower of Jesus, I am not supposed to belong. And this feeling of not belonging is not a bad thing. It is okay that I feel like I don’t belong, because I don’t. And even though it hurts to find myself somewhat of a stranger in a world that I know so well, I know that I am going to be okay. Because, in the arms of Jesus I do belong. And I can find my identity there. I can love these people because I belong in the arms of Jesus. And He is my strength. My strength does not come from being able to identify at a core level with the people who run and go to this Camp, my strength does not come from belonging to the evangelical subculture. My strength comes from Jesus.
May I believe that. May it be true. Jesus, may my strength come from you. When I feel like I don’t belong. When I feel hurt, estranged, unwelcome, judged, watched, may I find my identity in You. May I learn what it means to not belong, and may I come to a place of contentment knowing that the only place I belong is in your Arms. Spirit, guide my words, my actions, my life. May I be a conduit of your love, regardless of how I feel, how I hurt. Comfort and guide. Give me wisdom on how to live as a faithful witness to you.”
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