Sunday, May 20, 2007

No Man’s Land

Where we go doesn't matter. The crowd we're with seems to have no bearing on it as well. Wherever we manage to find ourselves, our family is an oddity. Wherever we go, whether in the world or the Church, we do not fit in with the folks around us. Two recent experiences have ingrained in me that there's only one place to call home, and that place isn't back on our farm.

On a recent trip, we had the opportunity to meet with a fellowship that is very careful to observe and obey all that the Lord has instructed. Many of them were farmers, most of them had large families. I was looking forward to making new friends and enjoying some fellowship. Since it is not everywhere we go that the kids can be with other kids who milk cows and share bedrooms, I was hoping they, too, would enjoy the chance to fellowship.

Unsure of what to expect as far as dress code, I was sure my tried-and-true conservative outfit would serve well. I wore my almost-to-the-ankles full black skirt, my bright pink sweater set, and my trusty black Mary Janes. I am pretty conservative about clothes ~ but apparently not conservative enough for this crowd. The combination of my uncovered head, eyeliner and lipstick must have screamed, "brazen Egyptian hussy" to them. I was road-blocked out of multiple conversations, apparently because anyone who looked like me, couldn't possibly know anything about what their life was like. "And what is someone as worldly as her doing with seven children, anyway?"

On the other hand, last night our family spent way too much money to go downtown in a major city for a "Christian" concert in a "Christian" church building. Again unsure of what to expect, I wore the same tried-and-true outfit. It didn't fit any better in this crowd. The country bumpkin surrounded by (Ick!) children was contrasted here with the tight pants, push-up undergarments, dyed hair and manicured nails of city life. The looks said, "I wonder if she's even wearing shoes". The actions said, "Let's not get close enough to find out".

It is pretty popular these days to claim we all worship the same God, but I believe that is blasphemy. We do, however carry the same book (don't get me started on translations). While actually reading it would be helpful , feeding on it would certainly be better. After all, He has exalted His Word above His name.

The same chick, in the same clothes, with the same children fared no differently in either place ~ too hootchie for one, too frumpy for another. In earlier days I would have been angry at the treatment we received. I would have been offended that someone would judge the book of my life by it's cover. Yet now, I am grateful for the reminder to love no matter what. Teach me, Father to have no respect to persons...no matter what they look like on the outside. Teach me that while fruit inspection is good, the packaging may look different. Ingrain this lesson in me while the wound is still tender.

And let me never forget this feeling...

10 comments:

  1. I feel your pain! I am a frumpy/hootchie momma too. I can get rather tired of being surrounded by judgemental folks, but now it simply bothers me for my kids sake rather than my own. I've grown comfortable in my own skin, trying to be the woman God wants me to be rather than fitting into a group. What makes me even more odd is the fact that I am willing to associate with all kinds of folks. The 'conservatives' can't understand how I can asociate with the 'liberals' and vice versa. Honestly! As if looking at the heart of a person instead of the outward appearance is a crime!

    Totally LOL at the “brazen Egyptian hussy” comment ;-) I'll have to remember that one and work it into a conversation!

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  2. Sorry.. hugs.... I'd get the same response. But God loves me just as I am, and He's not finished working on me.. I'm not perfect in HIS eyes yet. I know I'll never be perfect in the world's eyes, but ah well, I don't love them like I love my Lord.

    My kids are only perfect to me.. lol. Baruch Ata Adonai

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  3. Awww...you could come and visit with ME...I can fully relate to what you are saying. We are in all alone in a way, too, because there is no one of like mind in our rural sitution with whom to fellowship. Our church is small and I don't believe anyone there can truly associate with us.(They might think they can, but they really have no idea.)When we went to a much larger church we really got looked down upon by all the contemporary folks with lots of money. Not to mention the repeated warnings not to try to preach homeschooling. (And we never mentioned a word...they were just so sensitive to the subject that it was announced over and over that we needed to keep our philosophy on homeschooling to ourselves!) It was really sad, to see their pride and the direction in which their own children were going. The pastor's son was expelled from the Christian school and had to be homeschooled...how ironic.
    I have learned to accept this sort of displaced feeling, but am thankful to find blogs and websites of other families who ARE much more like-minded than those with whom we fellowship at home. It is so encouraging and inspiring to know you all ARE out there. :-)

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  4. I hear ya! I'm sorry that both experiences with such varied people wasn't any better. That's why we like to stay home. :) I don't think we would have even dared to venture to a concert! Good for you! I would have died from the sheer volume of people. (another reason to stay home sometimes...)

    We are called to be a set apart people, a peculiar people. Sometimes we feel like we fit that qualification all too well. And really, none of us minds very much. We have each other and at times that's all we have. We often leave a place reminding ourselves that being holy is being set apart and that while we may be 'weird' to some we still need to display love, His love, to the people we meet.

    I suppose you could chalk your experiences up to "social studies" with the kids. "See kids, this is what some other people are like. See how different they are in their dress, their talk, their behavior?" and let the kids ask their own questions of you. LOL

    Blessings to you

    Lisa

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  5. Sue (Pittsburgh, Pa.)May 21, 2007 at 1:42 PM

    I know how you feel! There is only one other family
    that we know who dress in a similar manner....I'm
    comfortable exactly with who I am at this time in my
    life, but helping my daughters to feel that way is
    challanging sometimes! I pray that they will be
    comfortable no matter who they are around, and that
    they will be able to focus on who they are with rather
    than themselves and how they are feeling...it's hard,
    but....hopefully, in time. May you be blessed for
    sharing your struggles as well as your triumphs!~Sue~

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  6. Wow. So true, so true. I have felt this way often. Where on earth do I fit in?

    Answer: Heaven. :)

    Valuable lessons, though...

    I think it is easier to excuse those who see me as a ill educated country bumpkin who is too dumb to know who to stop having children than it is those who view me as the brazen Egyptian hussy.

    The one side I feel pity for - because I believe they just haven't found the deeper life. The other side, I feel like they've had to walk right on PAST the deeper life - right on past God's Word and into a narrow minded religiosity that allows them to scorn those who just aren't like they are.

    You could visit me! You'd come away feeling like a great mother and housekeeper, i'm sure. :) We wouldn't be the same - but I think we would do just great! :)

    Hey - go ahead (just for fun!) and post on the issue of are we worshiping the same God. That would be interesting to me! :)

    Sometimes - I'm fairly convinced that none of us know God very well....I mean...as He truly is. I *think* I do - I am doing my best...but I wonder how much I am missing!

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  7. Even if you had less children and dressed more as they do, no guarantee things would be any different. I think today, this is one way GOD is calling some of out to a different path!! At least your children have each other! It has been so lonely for our youngest since we moved here...now here 4 years and she is 23...working, etc. We gave up on any churches we visited here...they should put out a "no vacancy" sign and save both of us the trouble. For my hubby and me, we finally met up with a couple and ended up with a home study group for fellowship. But I am the youngest at nearly age 55, so our daughter rarely participates. I keep hopeing and praying things will change...and I think they will. It may involve moving elsewhere...

    I have been told that because we do not have grandparents who were born here, likely we will never fit. It is a sad commentary on the church, because prejudice is something GOD hates. I personally think we are being driven out from the churches in different ways, some like this...just as the Israelite children were driven out by hornets at least once, from one place. The Messiah will likely soon arrive...and we know that this sifting is necessary. HE needs those of us willing to live as HE asks us to, regardless of the price paid. The internet can be a useful tool in linking up with others of like mind...hope it happens for your family!!

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  8. I think you may enjoy this story. Several years, we were on vacation camping in Cape Cod. One day we took our bicycles to Provincetown, at the tip of the Cape. It became obvious to us once we got there that this was a major hang-out for gay men.
    We ate lunch at a pizza place. The guy working there was, in his dress, body piercings, body language and lisp openly gay. He looked kind of bizarre.
    A small group of Canadian Mennonite women came in. All the women were dressed in traditional Amish dresses, aprons, and prayer caps. They went up to the freaky looking guy at the counter to place their order. The guy at the counter looked at them and said, "Why are you all dressed like that? I have never seen anyone dressed like you before."
    We, being from an area of the country with Amish, got such a laugh out of this total bizarre appearing guy acting like the Mennonites were freaks because of their plain dress.
    I am proud to report to you that one of the women spoke kindly to the pizza guy and explained to him that they were Mennonites, that they were followers of Jesus Christ, and they dress simply to not be "of the world." What amazed me the most was that the woman spoke with such kindness and seemed to not notice or judge the pizza guy's face piercings, etc. She treated him with total respect and dignity. I felt like I saw a real Christian that day.

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  9. My husband and I have decided, at the beginning of our marriage, to do things a certain way- no matter what was said by people. So, I have stayed the same with dress, makeup, etc... I don't dress a certain way for some people, and then dress a certain way for other people. I wear skirts all the time, but I don't wear a head covering, I wear makeup, (yes, eyeliner and lipstick!) and I try to do my hair nice. It doesn't change. I have been around the first crowd that you mentioned, have gotten the looks and super spiritual attitude, but I don't let it bother me. I have also been around the other crowd, and I don't let it bother me also. We are confident in our beliefs, so we don't let the opinion of man cause us to doubt. Either crowd. Our main objective is pleasing God. I think the thingt that bothers me most is when we get looks from family. They *should* be the ones to back us up! Just don't let the looks and critiscm bother you much. I know, easier said then done. = )

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  10. Sigh. It's funny, and at the same time, not. I've never fit in. Growing up in a conservative home with certain convictions taught, going to a conservative high school with another set of convictions - some different than what I was use to, then going to a fundamental college with yet another set of convictions, and then as an adult, deciding what was biblical and what God wanted me to abide by - separating the true convictions from man-made rules. One thing that I noticed thought, and I'm sure you are noticing it too, is when preparing for the mission field, between a greater study of another country and just the Spirit working in you, your home country becomes very foreign and strange to you. The tune, "This World is Not My Home" becomes so very real. The things of Earth become so trivial in a way as you go about The Father's Business. Then, you really don't fit in, not only in dress, but mentally and emotionally. I guess we can rejoice that we don't fit in, else we ought to reexamine our spiritual state. Our Father says we can expect this...
    Oh, and don't get me started on perhaps today's Church reading God's Word and abiding by it..:)

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