November 10, 2013

Fitting In

My friend Les Ferguson Jr. wrote a great post a couple of days ago about the feeling of not fitting in a church community anymore. If you're not familiar with Les' story, click around his blog for a bit to get the full ramifications. Short version is, his special needs son was molested by an old man from the church, said old man came back and killed his son and wife once charged, then church family wanted him to hurry up and get over it so he could come back and minister to them again. So, yeah, Les is a man who knows all to painfully the feeling of not being allowed to fit in. I could write all sorts of stuff about that, but the relevant point here is that Les needed more time to heal that they wished to allow, he's no longer their preacher, and he's healed to the point of regaining his passion again.

But's he's long gone as that congregation's evangelist, and understandably is wanting to have a ministry again.

But even though most of us haven't gone through a horrific tragedy like Les has, lots of us have that feeling of not fitting in, and desperately wanting a place to fit in; a spiritual home where we feel welcomed and secure just as we are.

Just as we are.

Just as I am.

We're tribal by nature, and that can be good in certain situations. But, as Christians, we're called to abandon all of these tribal identifiers and just love.

Love God, and love each other.

And love our enemies.

But love is a really big, big thing for us people.

Too big, sometimes.

So big that it seems we can only concentrate on one facet or aspect of love at a time. Which is understandable, because we're far more limited that we would ever wish to be.

But the limits of our love defines us as humans. And as Christians, Jesus asks us to step beyond our limits and focus.

And one of the hardest limits we can cross is to let the suffering have their voice.

Not really just to let them have their voice, but to let them speak their suffering into our lives.

Because that hurts. It reminds us of our own human frailties and needs.

For me, the need to have my voice sometimes drowns out the needs of the suffering people around me.

I want them to hurry up and get over it, get back to being a contributing member of the family.

And when I realize that, I realize that my need to contribute is intimately connected to letting other suffering and 'not fitting in' people contribute, too.

But having things that are worth contributing to the big discussion can only come through our own healing. And Christ wants us to help each other along that road of healing. And the things that we are learning in the middle of the healing, and the raw, honest expression of that healing can be the most powerful words to speak into our lives.

It's not comfortable, though. And while we are desperately seeking comfort, we want comfortable thoughts from completely healed people to magically remove our suffering.

It doesn't work that way. We need to step back into our own pain with these painful words to further our own healing. We feel our own pain again, and it lets us feel the pain of those around us. And we both get to heal a little more.

We are told that "by His stripes we are healed." But it's not a magical, solitary healing. By His stripes, we learn to heal each other, and in imitating Him, we find our own healing.

In giving others their voice, we hear our own voices ring out.

Les, you do my heart a world of good. And we can multiply that. I can't wait to meet you someday soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment