Confession: There are people that I purposefully hold at arms length. Okay- maybe more like football fields’ length. Ummm…. Marathon’s length? Continents’ length? Let’s just say I steer as far away physically (or, at least as far away emotionally) as I can. They are quite literally Marginalized in my life. I push them as far from the center of my life as I can. I’m not proud of it. I’m working hard to overcome this tendency- but I have a long way to go.
It’s easy to point out and find the marginalized in our culture and the world…….The orphan, the single or single parent (especially in the church), the leper,(Yes, they still exist and are evidence that the marginalization of people is not new,) the AIDS patient (and orphan) the enslaved, the sex-trade worker, the addict, the homeless, the mentally ill, the impoverished.… the list could go on infinitum. (Links are to organizations or information on these marginalized groups.)
If you looked through my repertoire of helping…. you’d probably never guess what a marginalizing jerk I can be. I support most of the causes above in one way or another. I’ve walked besides friends with AIDS, am currently helping with the Stuck Tour locally, I help those in the throes of adopting in any way I can, we’ve helped support a child in Tanzania through a great organization for years. I do what I can to help the homeless, we love to help the impoverished through Kiva, I worked for years as a pastoral counselor helping those struggling emotionally, and do what I can politically to help end poverty. I’ve spent over 20 years working with and for a non-profit that helps build families and the world by supporting mothers….
Still.. I marginalize. I’m guilty.
The list of the marginalized in my life is a little different from the culture’s marginalized. Lately- I’ve been wondering…..and feeling convicted about- those I personally marginalize. Those I steer away from. Those that cause me to be less Good Samaritan and more Pharisee like.
Who are they if not limited to those listed above? (Cause- let’s face it-the things I listed above are still pretty minimal when it comes to helping the culturally marginalized…they don’t exactly take spot in the center of my life’s pages.)
They are- (pretty much) those I assume won’t like me, be open to knowing me or who intimidate me because of our differences.
- Physical differences….. Honestly? Really incredibly beautiful people intimidate me. I tend to protect myself from the insecurity I feel when I’m around them by isolating myself from them. (Dear friends- you are beautiful- yes- intimidatingly, so. But, I love you anyway. I’ve learned to.)
- Emotional and personality differences….I just don’t “get” certain emotional and personality types…. they are hard to connect with- I tend to isolate from them rather than have to do the work of connecting…
- Spiritual belief differences… The truth: I love my Muslim neighbors (I live in a very culturally diverse neighborhood) from afar and with minimal but friendly contact. Because, I’m pretty much afraid they already hate me—-1) Because our last name is Jewish. (There has been neighborhood kid “stuff” that backs that fear a bit.) and we’re Christian… We’re kind of the almost hat-trick of what the media says they dislike. I also kind of feel like I must look like a prostitute to them with my blazing burgundy hair uncovered, and my body-too-conscious clothes. After our mailbox was mutilated by the mail truck- we considered requesting that they deliver to our neighbor for us… but my husband once quipped that our mail from “Jews for Jesus” might not go over so well….just keepin it real- people.) I also feel WAY under dressed when my beautifully- Sari- wrapped neighbors walk by….justsayin. Diverse.
- Stylistic differences….In a world of extreme rocky- road styles.. I’m pretty much vanilla ice cream. I pretty much assume people with extreme piercings etc will find e too bland to bother with. (Okay and they kind of scare me a bit… alright? )
- Preference Differences….These may be lame- but I’ll confess them anyway- I don’t “get” gaming. I don’t “get” Crossfit people.(I had to google what it was thought it was a church ting… not so much.) I don’t “get” roller coaster lovers (I refuse to pay money to be scared to death or made to vomit.) I don’t “get” rabid sports fans. I don’t “get” extreme political activists or the politically obsessed.
- Financial differences….Okay- so honestly? The poor? I get. Kind of. The rich? Not so much. Which is weird- because in the big scope of things- there are people who could look at our income and in comparison to theirs- see us as BOTH of those. Rich. Poor. Yay- we’re both! Hint: that’s probably true of you as well. Unless you’re Oprah. Then, everyone’s poor. Oprah- honey- if you’re reading this? Call me. You will want to have me on a show. You will (someday -hopefully soon-when it’s published) want to choose my book “A Mile in Her Shoes” as a book club choice. It could bring the world of women together. Justsayin- I have issues with the rich. (and a lot of other people and things- we know this.) Basically? I judge them. I judge their cars. (Such a waste of money.) I judge their clothes. (Again, a waste- and so stink in beautiful that I’m jealous.) I judge their in-home help. (Because again- I’m jealous and could really use some help with housework cause -duh I’m in a neck brace, for like… ever.) Pretty much I judge them because I’m jealous and or because I think “I’d use that money so much better.” With all the judgy-judgy and jealous temptations? I pretty much avoid “the rich.” Whom ever they are. (And that clinches the fact that Oprah won’t call. oopsy.) Okay- another confession- I actually do know some “rich” people… not Oprah rich- but rich. And they also intimidate me because I feel like they judge me…I’m just a SAHM after all…
Weird list of marginalized people, I know. Trust me- this is just the beginning…. I also marginalize academics, (I never finished college….hello insecurity.) those with dementia, senility (kind of related by their polar opposition.) and pageant/ dance/soccer/extreme hippy crunchy/ or rabidly controlling or rabidly permissive parent type people.
Told you before. I can be a real- jerk.
Here’s the thing… (Now that I’ve offended or alienated pretty much everyone….) When I look around? I notice that people in general tend to kind of run in packs….. packs of people like them. Like sticks with like. SAHM’s with SAHM’s. Inked with inked. Academic with academic…..rich with rich… etc…We live millions of kinds of intricately segregated lives. Some forms of segregation are just more obvious than others.
So- I’ve decided to desegregate. No- I’m not starting a busing campaign- I wouldn’t even know where to start- and I have a hard enough time parking my car- I’d be deadly with a bus. Instead- I’m inviting the marginalized of all kinds into my life. The culturally marginalized. The socially marginalized and those I personally marginalize. I started this journey a few years ago- and I’ll tell you something- I’ve met and grown to love some of the most incredible people since.
People who challenge me. People who change me for the better. People who accept me when I thought they’d judge. People who are so much more than I ever would have thought.
People I want to be in right smack dab in the middle of my story… inked into the pages of my life and heart- no longer relegated to the margins where they are tolerated from afar.
I’m looking forward to using some of my margins and the marginalized and turning the tie and relationships into art…. join me?
- What about you? Who are the marginalized in your life? Why?
- What do you think would happen if you changed that? How could you?
- What do you think would happen if we all did?
Dear Lord- You know my heart from the inside out. You know how I isolate myself from people….you know who I marginalize. Please help me to Love YOU and love the people you’ve created- just as they are- the similar to me and the vastly different. Help me to set aside my prejudices, fears, intimidations, jealousies insecurities and all the things that make me want to push some people as far into the margins of my life as I can. Write a new story on the pages of my life. One filled with love and diversity and respect. One that looks more like yours and less like mine. I love you lord, amen.“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:3436 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40
“35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:35-40
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8
PS: Yes- I’m also intimidated by the artistically gifted- which, from the pic- you can see- I am not:P
To sum up this series….
Let’s make some margin time in our lives- so we can be flexible and connect when opportunities arise.
Let’s make the marginally important- marginal- let’s keep main thing the main thing and let the lesser things go.
Finally- Let’s not marginalize people…. let’s love them. That’s what Jesus did. From hookers, to tax collectors, fishermen to doctors…..all of them. All of us.