My best friend lives in Nebraska. I live in Oregon. It takes some work to keep up a friendship across half a country, but we manage. Maybe it’s that while I’m flitting from state to state, she’s constant–always there. I have called her to share joys, to wail “Why?”, to ask for prayer, to ask for advice. She has prayed with me over the phone while tears streamed down my face, told me about her own screw-ups worse than mine, and challenged me to be a better person. I love her for it.
I still often wonder why we’re friends, but I am so glad we are.
And sometimes, when the stars align and we’re both in the same state at the same time, I get to visit her.
When I go to her house, I belong. I usually knock–more so she knows I’m there than for permission to enter. I might grab a glass of water (or whatever crazy concoction she’s drinking lately)…if she’s busy with children or her studio I’ll peruse her library for a while, making a stack to take home with me. I know where the other light switch is in the bathroom and about the pile of laundry downstairs by the washer. We fold our legs up on the couch and chatter, interrupted by children and the phone, and we share our lives.
And because I feel like I belong, I act like I do.
Earlier this week I went to worship team practice. I’ve been acting as the backup keyboardist for about 4 months now. I don’t feel like I belong. I love it, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not really a part of the team. I’m just a hole-filler…someone to make sure there’s not a gap when the regular keyboardist is gone. And that’s okay.
But I realized this: because I don’t feel like I belong there, I don’t act like I belong.
Because I am an outsider, I act as an outsider. And because I act as an outsider, I am an outsider.
I know I hold myself apart in an unfamiliar group setting. And I know that doing this keeps me outside of that ring that I want to join. Get me one-on-one, and you’ll discover a whole other me–one that cracks jokes and has something to contribute. So why is it that I act like I don’t belong…and then wonder why I don’t?
I don’t know what the answer is. Perhaps it’s simply time. Time to get to know these people, time to trust them, time to step towards them one foot at a time.
And I know you’re out there, too. You who holds yourself apart, you who recognizes the distance but doesn’t know how to close it. What will you do today to act like you belong?