I met a woman last night. I will call her Elena. She and her husband had been married for 44 years when he left her. He told her that he never should have married her and that marriage and children were just a facade so that he could rise in business and society. He had to do it because in 1967, if you wanted to get anywhere, you didn’t come out of the closet. For 44 years she had been nothing but a facade. Her grown children have abandoned her because they blame her for his leaving, evidently not believing what she says he told her when he left.
There are so many ways of not fitting in. Elena cried. She had been through a divorce recovery program, she volunteers and keeps busy but is still so alone. She told us that a person can be around lots of other people and still be alone. She wants to find a church where she will fit in. People have said horrible things to her because she is divorced. She has been a Christian all of her adult life and can find nowhere to fit. She wanted our prayers that she would find a place.
We had some conversation and then our leader said, “We hope you will come back to join us.”
We watched a video and the leader closed with prayer. Right at the “amen,” Elena jumped up and left quickly. I followed after her calling her name out in the hall.
“Will you come back?” I asked.
“No, I will not be back. Thank you, but I will not be back.” She hadn’t even stopped walking to answer; she was out the door before I could take a breath.
I think too slowly. I let her go. Should I have followed up? Should I have chased her down to say, I care. Talk to me? What did we say wrong? What did we do? Was it the video? Whatever it was, it was repelling. She couldn’t wait to get out.
There are so many ways of not fitting in. When I was a teenager, I went to church all the time but was not totally accepted because at school, I ran around with non-Christian wild kids. Those non-Christian wild kids thought of me as the prude, the virgin, the religious one but they accepted me for what I was and I enjoyed those years immensely. I was never quite as comfortable with the church crowd. I didn’t really fit in either place.
My grandmother always told me, “You are judged by the company you keep.”
“Well, you shouldn’t be!” I would yell back at her in my head, (never out loud.)
There are so many ways of not fitting in. How many Christians do not attend church because churches are filled with husbands, wives, children, and they do not wish to attend alone or they fear that they will be judged because their family does not come?
There are so many ways not to fit. How do we react when someone at church or Bible study expresses a view that does not fit with the mainline view, religious or political, of the group? Here is one person who has had a good experience, alise-write.com, but I know many who haven’t.
There are those that deny God, Christ, and religion of any sort and no amount of goodness, inner beauty, peace, or love will change their view. Regardless, Christians are the face of Christ on earth. What others see in us should be attractive, not repelling.
Elena, we failed you, but wherever you are and wherever you go next, I will be praying for you and I am so sorry.
*For something else to consider, see this anonymous post regarding church, by a young adult with Aspergers.