For years I have tried to fit in and be a contributing voice within the Episcopal Church. Time and again, I would run for an office, volunteer for a committee or simply offer to help but always seemed to be overlooked. It became a frustration and there were times of deep hurt in the disappointments. Being a white male in the United States and in the Church there was an expectation, I felt, to offer my help, to be of service, to lead when needed and to represent the whole. For over 30 years it just became one large frustration. Finally, it has recently dawned on me that this was not a rejection, but rather a blessing. By being marginalized I have come to understand what women, gays and people of color have experienced in the church for generations. It has in fact been an educational process to help me finally understand the larger church and my role in it. White men oftentimes are characterized by the stereotype or generalization as people who just don't "get it". Oftentimes they can be clueless to the struggles and challenges others experience. This long journey of being overlooked has in fact been the one way in which I can slowly come to understand how more people experience life, and how many others have also been marginalized to the great detriment of the church and society.
I prepare to go to another convention of the church, but I have come to a place where it does not matter much any more. I do not need to fit in, I am no longer desirous, nor have a need to serve and lead in any way. There are issues I might speak up on, and people I want to see. There is a memory of hurt and pain that will always be a part of my story. But meeting and being with others in this time is far more important than being heard, or making a difference. The need that has grown more focused for me is the need to be where God needs me and that might be in the church or not.
I remember years ago a friend challenging me after a particularly hard time of rejection and my endlessly going over it and rehashing it, he said, "how long are you going to go on like this". It has been many years on and off with different issues that reignite pain and struggles, and each new time all the past returns. But when the focus and primary need has changed it does allow for me to refocus and let some of the past drift by. I have circled through burn out a number of times and made great mistakes and dropped the ball more times than I want to remember, but always do. And these are the things that make my resume', these shortcomings along with my long-time struggles to fit in and never quite doing it, are my strengths. God has blessed me time and again, and I have repeatedly prayed for them to go away. Thanks be to God for the unrelenting and never ceasing need to bless again and again.