Thursday, January 21, 2010

ever felt like the odd man out?

Day 310/365: the weird pretzel

You're at a "group function" - women's retreat, lunchroom, Bible study, scrapbooking event, classroom, football game, neighborhood party, church service - whatever it may be, just little ole' you stepping into the group. They are all talking... but not to you ("the outsider"). You leave feeling rejected, unworthy, and alone.

Having been the outsider/outcast more times than I care to remember, I make it my mission to see that others are welcomed into the group, be it scrapbooking or Bible study. When facing rejection nowadays, God gently reminds me to look around and be observant of others. This gets the focus off of me (stopping the pity party) and on to others where it belongs.

I hear a lot of people (on television and in real life) talking about tolerance, inclusion, and accepting others for who they are as they are. Though I hear a lot of talk, this is what I see:
  • biting sarcasm delivered under the guise of humor
  • slander
  • rejection, ostracism, and avoidance
  • criticism
To makes matters worse, I sometimes see myself behaving this way as well. Bottom line is we can talk until we're blue in the face about accepting others but what are we actually DOING about it? How are we doing with those who may be different from us physically, spiritually, or emotionally? How are we doing with that difficult friend or neighbor? In our everyday contacts and relationships, how are we doing???

Some questions to ponder:
  • Am I being more mindful of others or myself in social settings?
  • Am I treating everyone with the same level of respect in my daily interactions?
  • Am I trying to understand where others are coming from even when I disagree with where they are at?
  • Am I giving others the freedom and respect to come as they are or am I shutting others out?
  • Am I spending more time talking or listening?
If we expect to see change in the world, we need to make changes in the way that we live.

It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don't use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that's how freedom grows. For everything we know about God's Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That's an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out — in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then? Galations 5:13-15 (MSG)

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Ginger said...

A challenging post and applicable to many areas of my life: church, school, and even home, where some days it is necessary and important to look beyond the obvious.

~Kathie~ said...

Great post Tina, on a very tough subject!

Deanna said...

This is such a good post Tina. And I'm not just saying that because I'm the southern girl from the city who now lives in a tiny rural town in the frozen tundra of Iowa!!! I think 80 years from now if we're still here we will still be "those new people from down south".

But I recognize some things that used to be such a part of who I was and some things I still need to work on.

That biting sarcastic humor used to be my way of keeping people at a distance and it worked very well for most people...who wants to get close to that??? But when I started being confronted with the way I was wounding a friend I truly cared about God really began dealing with that razor blade tongue of mine and it was ugly!!

I tend to retreat to an invisible corner when I'm feeling like the outsider so I'll take this as a challenge to leave the pity party table and look for others to reach out to.

Tina Vega said...

It made me smile to see your comment, Deanna, because of how we first met :) Another huge benefit of reaching out to others, meeting some pretty neat people!

Thank you so much for sharing with such depth and honesty.

Thank you as well Ginger and Kathie for your comments... it's been one of many things clogging my brain drain.