My mom’s family has always been on the outside. The eight siblings didn’t seem to have any other friends but themselves. My mom told me that she’s never fit in anywhere else.
I’ve always felt like an outsider too. I befriended the kids who had no friends. Usually, they were just shy kids who then became good friends with each other. And I was on the outside again.
This was by choice. There were some very nice popular kids in my grade who often made an effort to include me and anyone else who looked alone at the moment. It was sincere and not a charity act. I had great times playing, at sleep-overs and birthday parties.
But, I couldn’t handle it and would distance myself. It wasn’t hard. For one, I would never invite anyone over to my house and I never had birthday parties. After we got a TV we only watched Disney and Road to Avonlea, so I couldn’t talk about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Simpons. I read old books instead. As a 9 year old who had read Gone with the Wind, I didn’t even speak the same language as my peers. My clothes were hand-me-downs from cousins or from older sisters of boys in my class.
Even with all this weirdness, I would have been accepted if I could have accepted myself. I was ashamed of who I was from a very young age. It was more comfortable to stay on the outside and feel sorry for myself than to risk people getting to know me and what I thought was inevitable rejection.
My church environment fostered this isolation. We placed ourselves on the outside of mainstream Christendom. We had a special revelation and a special annointing that God wanted to pour out on the earth. But the rest of the world had rejected us. ‘They’d rejected God’s moving’ we told ourselves.
I’ve heard so many sermons with snide remarks about ‘the denominations’. Its so common it goes unnoticed in everyday conversation. We were ‘the first-fruits company’, ‘the chosen’, ‘God’s annointed’, ‘the manifest Sons of God’, everyone else was ignorant and yet groaning in anticipation for when we would reveal God’s plan to the world. This attitude and still (or because of it?) we were rejected by the denomination we’d come from.
As I rebelled and became friends with Christians in other churches, I found this same us-them attitude. Well, in the evangelical churches. The Catholic churches I went to assumed they were mainstream and viewed other groups as peripheral and not to be taken seriously.
When I found myself outside of Christianity, I still felt like an outsider.
The people I feel most at home with belong to the GLTBI group. Another outsider group – although not by choice this time.
Perhaps, echoes of my family and old church group – I know something you don’t know, but I’m going to eject myself from you before you can reject me – are louder in my life than I’d like.
Leaving my group has made me feel like I am part of the rest of the world. I’m even getting over the idea that I’m unworthy to belong and must hide. But, I’m still used to being on the outside.