I grew up as a missionary kid (MK). I had an idyllic childhood in Africa, running free in the bush. Wild. A childhood that I mourned immediately when we arrived back in America the day before my 10th birthday. I knew two cultures.. but never felt like I actually belonged to either. Now as I’m an adult I am very much American, but I still feel dissociation from this culture. We went back to Africa in 2008 to visit and introduce my little sister and my husband to Tanzania… While it felt like a coming home, there was also a disconnect. I still feel both those things. A disconnect from both continents. A feeling of not belonging completely to either. I still envy those that look like they know exactly what they are doing, who from my eyes fit in perfectly and know all the ins and outs and feel at home. However I don’t struggle with that as much as I did in my teen and younger adult years. I’ve come to embrace my place on the edge. I appreciate being able to look at America from the point of view of another culture, an “outsider” perspective. And it’s from this point of view that my political beliefs are shaped.
This is what Christianity is like for me as well. I struggle to find my place. I wrote in a previous piece about my journey towards faith. How I have always been befuddled by those that seem to have it all together. How I have never felt like I was a part of the “club”. A club that seems to be so solidly together that questions and doubts and critiques don’t seem to live there. A club where wonderings of what the hell our place is in this murderous world seem prohibited because it’s already known. That judgment and condemnation of the outliers is par for the course and laced in love. I’m not able to be in that club. I’m pretty sure there are plenty of us that don’t feel a part of it. When I voice dissent, or questions, or doubts, or views that are heretical to the fundamental core, I feel afraid. Afraid because today, Christians are felt to be some of the biggest bullies we’ve got. You don’t have to look too far to understand why- just look at who was elected by an overwhelming majority of Christians. How do you think this branding of such a man by the Church looks to those on the margins, to those most susceptible to the venom of a bully pulpit? And not just the marginal un-churched. Christians on the margins who voice their doubts of the institutional church and declare their love and acceptance of those most despised are often written off by the church. Or told to be quiet. Told that dissent in the ranks is not loving, not peace-building. But silence in the face of oppression and exclusion in the church isn’t peace, it’s violence. It’s a scary place to be- a Jesus follower on the fringes. One that doesn’t feel at home in the church. I come to Christ’s table with an “outsider” point of view, anchored to a faith in Jesus that wants me to love on the fringes. I hear Jesus calling from the pain of this world. I see him beckoning from the margins. I feel him breathing in the brutal, beautiful, sorrow-filled world. I come completely humble in that I know I don’t have it all together.. with questions, with doubts, with fears.. with an ever learning, leaning arc towards God’s reconciliation of this world to him.
My story is steeped in tension. I hope it can provide hope to those feeling alone, and maybe a wider view to those that may not have ever considered this way of faith.
Story breeds connection.