Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Guy In The Corner

Allow me to first begin by saying that I am a freak. My Apple dictionary defines a freak as: a person who is regarded as strange because of their unusual appearance or behaviour. I am a person who can't seem to fit in regardless of where he goes. I am a Christian, and yet I stand out among the church-goers because I smoke, drink, watch rated R movies, and think 98% of Christian music is a misnomer. Among non-Christians, I stand out because I believe the Bible, love Jesus, acknowledge the existence of Hell, and openly proclaim that I believe there is such a thing as right and wrong, truth and falsehood. In short, I'm a liberal among the conservatives, but too conservative to fit in with the liberals.

And if that didn't make things uncomfortable enough, I am an introvert. I don't have a lot of friends, I don't make friends easily, I seclude myself often, and, unless I am with people that I am very comfortable with, I get increasingly uncomfortable in groups of more than 2 or 3 people that I don't know very well. And it's a vicious cycle, because introverts often seem to have a giant "fuck off" sign written over their heads because of their behaviour, and so others are far less likely to approach them and make an attempt to befriend them. All the while, many of us long for meaningful friendships and relationships but cannot seem to find a way to cultivate them.

Being a freak and an introvert has led to one regular outcome: loneliness. I've even noticed that within the Christian church, there doesn't seem to be a place for people like myself. For a long time I thought there was something wrong about myself, something that needed to change about my personality, until, thank God, I found an article that felt like the first cool breeze in the scorching sun I'd been sitting in for years.

www.experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/2007/06/walk-with-william-james-part-8.html

It's nice to finally realize that sociability does not equal spirituality.

1 comment:

mbainter said...

Hmmm...that's a pretty thought provoking post. As you have probably already noticed I'm fairly extroverted. But there are definitely parameters around that.

For example, I generally am very careful what I share about myself. Most people simply aren't ready to handle really knowing me. :-) I have to give that out in small doses or it's just overwhelming to people. Especially "church people".

Of course, I also avoid the kind of classes and bible studies mentioned there like the plague anyway. If you have a social event, I'm happy to talk about you. But when I attend a SS class or a bible study, that's not what I'm there for.

I'll happily hear your prayer request, but I'll pass on everyone more than 1 branch out on your family tree. I know that sounds bad, but frankly, I think those prayer requests are often laden with either avoiding being honest about your own personal needs and struggles or else prideful attempts at appearing spiritual to others. Not saying people never have honest prayer requests further out than that, but if you're sharing them with a class full of people who have never met nor have any connection with the people and circumstances involved I'd say the likelihood is pretty high.

However, as I read that I couldn't help but think of all the times I've heard people talk in the way described in the article and worse. There *is* something of a default assumption that if you're in the church, you should behave as an extrovert at least to some given extent.

I have to confess I myself had never really thought about things in that way before. Definitely going to have to give some serious thought to how that impacts the way I interact with and view others, and keep a closer eye out for that type of thing going on around me.

BTW - I feel your pain on not fitting in. Try also having largely unpopular political opinions. :-) Try being an Iconoclast in a baptist church. Or worse, actually having convictions that a pledge of allegiance to a symbol like the Christian Flag is questionable at best and that pledging to the AMERICAN flag in a church service is flat out offensive. :-)

Then add in some political opinions that run really hotly contrary to the accepted status quo....

Well, lets just say if you aren't enjoying where you are, you might want to avoid listening to me too much. -laf-