Written May 2013: Have you ever felt like a second class citizen? That no matter how hard you try or what people say, when it comes right down to it, you are not equal – you are always a little bit less. I was at an event this weekend that I helped organize. The leader had instructed us organizers that she had taken care of finding helpers for the event so that we could come as participants and enjoy without worry. Unfortunately, there were no helpers in the hall for the meal. We ran out of food and needed someone to serve. The leader called on me. I politely heard her request and completed the tasks. I did what any good server would do. But the whole time I was trying very hard not to cry. I understood that she asked me because I was the one with the most knowledge of how to complete the task. I understood that she didn’t think that completing the tasks of server would mean that I would not get a chance to eat myself. But that did not stop me from feeling that here I was, less valuable than the rest, the one that is the most expendable. Or, that my time, experience or even lunch was not as important as everyone else’s. I finished the day, being the last one out after the cleaning up and went home to cry. I asked God where this was coming from. Is it disappointment? Maybe I was just tired or PMSing? But no. It comes from feeling like I don’t fit in. I don’t belong. I am not as good or as welcome or as loved as the rest. I could see myself again at the table sitting with my family when my father would say, “you don’t need to be here.” Everyone else was good enough to be at the table, everyone else was welcome. Everyone else was loved. Now I know that my father loved me and still does. He has done so much for me. But in that moment, in his attempt to encourage me to lose weight, I felt unloved, unwelcome and less than equal. Just like I did at this event. There have been so many times in my life that I didn’t feel good enough. So many times that my weight has kept me from being able to take part. And if it wasn’t my weight than it was my personality or my location or my family or whatever. It is quite revealing when you look at it that there isn’t any one thing that feeling like I am unwelcome can be ascribed to. That feeling has plagued me all my life. I have made lots of poor decisions in attempts to “fit in.” I even feel that way in the church. Having been divorced and remarried, there is a stigma that comes with it. Somehow I am not worthy. And perhaps sometimes I am treated that way, or perhaps I am so overly conditioned to feeling that way that I interpret everything through that filter. But where does the feeling of being unworthy come from? Who would whisper that into my ear at every turn? Who takes pride in seeing me hurt and crying? Who wants to be sure that I do not invest all of my energy and talent into my life? Who would want me to feel that my life isn’t good enough? I think we know. So why is it so important to him that I not engage fully in life? Do you think that he might be afraid of the mountains that I can help move? Perhaps there is a mountain yet to be moved that requires my help specifically and he knows that as long as he can keep me feeling unwelcome, unworthy and unloved, that I will not make the effort and it won’t be moved. But who does Jesus say that I am? Romans chapter 8 says that I am a “son of God” (14) and a “joint heir with Christ” (17). It also says that I am called for a purpose (28) and that I am wholly and completely loved and that nothing can stop God from loving me (38). He even died for me (Rom 5:8). In Jesus’ day there were lots of “second class citizens.” But what did Jesus do when he met the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4)? Did he refuse to speak to her? Did he tell her she wasn’t good enough to be offered what he was giving? Did he tell her that he didn’t love her? No. He offered hope, love and salvation. A chance to be included among his own family. And she took it. Along with many in her town. He made her equal in a world where she clearly was not. But what about my mistakes? Isn’t there consequences for my sin? Won’t I always need to suffer this “stigma” because of my past errors? Wouldn’t Jesus agree with that? What did he say to the woman caught in adultery (John 8)? Did he tell her that it was ok? No. She was guilty and the law required her life for it. Jesus would have been perfectly justified to take her life for her sin. But what did he do? Did he justify or excuse her actions? No. What he did was show her love and he gave her an opportunity to live. A new life. What does he do for me? Doesn’t he tell me that my old life is gone and that I have been made new (2 Cor 5:17)? That I am a new creation? That there is now no condemnation for me (Rom 8:1)? Didn’t he die in my place so that I could have this new life (John 3:16)? So why do I live under the weight of condemnation? Why do I continue to see things through the filter of hurt and unworthiness? He told me to confess my sin and He would forgive me (1 John 1:9). I have and He has. They are gone. Am I perfect? No. I am human. I still struggle with many things. And so does everyone else (Rom 3:23). Will some people say things or do things that will make me feel like a second class citizen? Sure. God is still working on them. But does what they say or do make it true? No. I can’t continue to listen to voice that tells me that I am not welcome or loved. Galations 5:1 tells me to “stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made me free and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” These feelings are all lies coming from the father of lies. There are mountains to move and they require my help. I have been called for a purpose (Rom 8:29). There is a race to be run (Heb 12:1). There is no time for looking back or wallowing in the mud of self pity or rejection. I am told to “strengthen the hands which hang down and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for my feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather healed” (Heb 12:12-13). I need to stop dragging myself over the boulders of hurts from the past, learn to walk in His ways and accept the healing that His blood has paid for. Do I want to be healed? Absolutely! Thank God for the hurt of this day that brought me to my knees so that I could learn that He loves me, and has welcomed me into His family as a son! Get behind me Satan, I have work to do! Now, where is that mountain?