Outside Looking In
I remember the day we got on a plane and headed to Edinburgh. There was excitement, nervousness, tears, and anticipation. It was a whole new adventure. We had no clue what we were walking into. We were leaving behind friends, family, and a life that we had grown to love. All things considered, we were in a good place at that moment. It felt a lot like when we moved from Colombia. Everything was settled and comfortable, yet we knew that the Lord was calling us to make a move. I can't quite explain either move other than there was the internal call and an external confirmation in both cases. We knew what we had to do, and we did it.
So, we live in Edinburgh now. As I said in the email that I sent out earlier this week, things are "normal." We really have very few "new" experiences. Yes, we are raising a two year old. I am studying regularly. Taryn is adventuring around Edinburgh. However, all of it is part of a regular routine for us now. There are very little surprises. Yet, one thing still causes us to feel unsettled. It is the feeling of being an "outsider."
As I think about it now, it is a funny part of life. Always wanting to be part of "the group." Always wanting to be "inside" the circle. I was most struck by this when reading Lewis' That Hideous Strength. The main character in the story is always wanting to be "inside" the inner circle. The more he tries to break into the circle the more he finds that there are circles inside the circle. It is a great book and everyone should read it. (In fact, if you haven't read Lewis' space trilogy, you need to.)
When we moved to Franklin, we left behind friends and a life we had loved. We moved to a place where we didn't know anyone and no one knew us. When we moved from Franklin, we had friends that knew us and that we knew. We loved our church. We loved spending time with people in the church. I loved the place where I worked out. I had made some good friends there. I was on the inside. It was comfortable.
Moving to Edinburgh, all of that has changed. The only person here that knows me is Taryn, and I am the only person that knows Taryn. We spend time with other people, but we spend that time as "the other," the "outsiders." I feel this somewhat more acutely when I am working out. In Spring Hill, I walked in and joked around with the other folks. We knew each others strengths and weaknesses in the workouts. I was on the inside. The place I work here, I still feel like I don't quite fit (I am guessing a major part of that is there are still moments when I have no clue what someone said to me and they are laughing, so I laugh).
As I have talked to people over the last five years, I have heard the refrain over and over again, "I just don't feel like I fit in." It could be in relation to the culture around them. It could be in relation to people they work with. It could be in relation to the neighborhood they happen to live in. I don't know. What I do know is that we long to fit in. We long to find our people. We long to move from outsiders to insiders.
All of this brings me back to the beauty of the church. The Lord has ordained a group of people that have nothing in common with each, other than he has gather us to worship him. He has called us from every tongue, tribe, and nation to be his. When we gather on Sundays to worship, we can look around and think, "I would never spend time with most of these people if not for the work of the Gospel." The church is the place where we "fit," where we are no longer "outsiders." Now, granted the church doesn't always do this well, but this is what we are called to as members of the church. We are called to be the place where the outcasts of society gather and celebrate the union that we have with Christ, and because of that, with each other. This is the marvel of coming to the Lord's Table week after week. At the Table we are reminded not only that we are united to Christ in his life, death, and resurrection, but we are united to each other. Not only that, at the Table we are strengthened in those unions.
I feel like an outsider most of the week. I will admit that. However, when Sunday comes, I celebrate. I celebrate that I have been brought in from the outside. That I am not a stranger, but I have been bought by the blood of Christ. I thank the Lord that I am inside his family, his household. It is in realizing this, in hearing this truth proclaimed to me in the Word and sacrament, the I can go out and not worry about being an outsider. I can go out and even celebrate the fact that in this world, I do not fit.