To those who feel like a stranger even when surrounded
Soul Food Advent Blog Series 2018: 'Room at the Table'
Guest blogger: Chris Lindsay
To those who feel like a stranger even when surrounded,
Try not to panic. I know that's easier said than done but really and truly you are not alone. Almost everyone feels the same. There are no 'insiders' - not really. We've all been far from God and far from each other and far from ourselves and all of us, always, are just trying to work out our place in things. Maybe some of us are better at hiding it than others but we all wonder if we truly belong. Yes, even that really confident seeming guy or girl. Maybe especially that really confident guy or girl.
Those of us who stay silent when we're nervous, we see the talkers and assume that they must be super confident but mostly they're just smiling and gabbling to cover the fact they're freaking out inside. And those of us who talk to cover our nerves, we see the quiet ones and assume that they're comfortable and settled, that they feel at home and able to be still - not that they're suffocating and desperate to hide. So don't assume the worst - that you are the only one finding things hard. Assume the best - that we're all just working this stuff out and that we can do it together.
Because if there's one thing that binds us all, it's that we all doubt whether we truly belong. And that's 100% okay. It's okay to not feel at home yet. The journey to being truly at home somewhere is a long and complex one that happens in fits and starts, often two steps forward, five back.
Much of life teaches us not to trust and those lessons are hard to unlearn. The feeling of being a stranger - feeling strange, out of place - is hard to shake. We can be told we are welcome, shown all the hospitality in the world, but that nagging doubt that we really belong lingers - especially if the feeling has been compounded by rejection or disappointments or abuses.
It doesn't even have to be that dramatic - maybe there's no great trauma lurking in us, perhaps it's just the seemingly unbridgeable gaps that exist between people - class, money, skin colour, sex, mental health - that make us feel different and knock the confidence out of us. Sure we can manage to share a room with people who aren't like us, but we don't feel that we'll ever truly be one of "them". The poor are nervous of being around the rich but the rich are also nervous of being around the poor - both worrying that they lack what it takes to be accepted by the other (education and wealth / authenticity and hardship) and so keep their distance when they long to be one.
All of this is normal. All of this is everyone's story. So relax if you can or at least be willing to doubt your doubts. Remember Jesus was and is the outsider's outsider - the lowest of the low; the homeless, bastard, refugee from the shittiest part of the country who was rejected by his hometown then horribly betrayed by the people who "loved" him. In all the ways we fear we don't belong, he didn't belong either.
Really and truly, you are not alone. He gets it. But he was also the insider's insider - the Rabbi, the leader, the one with the hotline to God, the most adored person in all history, the one putting everything right. In all the ways we long to belong he did and does and shares all it all with us. When he says he wants to build his kingdom and wants to bring everyone in, he knows what it is to be the outsider and means it when he invites you.
If you can't trust yourself or you can't trust others, dare to trust him.
Chris Lindsay is a Freelance Screenwriter from and living in Edinburgh. He's a Dad and a Christian and a science fiction buff.