You don’t belong. What a hurtful message, even unbelievable. Many people strive to make adjustments in their looks, their behavior in hopes of being accepted. Can this round peg shave its edges to look more square? The problem is the effort is often painful and the results are not what is hoped for. Even worse the person’s uniqueness is lost. The special contributions that they can offer vanishes. For the group or community that isn’t aware of what they are losing, there is no regret. You can’t miss something you never knew existed. What is really sad is when a group is aware of and enjoys a person’s special qualities but chooses to let it go.
Such a situation occurs in the Orthodox Community Church found in my novel, Baggage burdens. The congregation enjoys seeing their children performing in the Christmas play, something that members of their own community have failed at. When Jill successfully works with the children to produce a great show the people love it. But they throw away their opportunity to see repeat performances for what?
One must feel sorry for a people that feel that their way of life is so fragile that the mere presence of an alternative is a threat. Unfortunately when that same community causes the person or group that is different suffering, sorrow washes away.
“And speaking of appreciating,” says Mary. She steps near Amber and Daniel, who are playing with toys they received for Christmas earlier in the morning. Touching Daniel’s shoulder, she says, “You guys did a marvelous job.” Mary beams, waving the program featuring the church’s Christmas play. “Actually, all the kids did a marvelous job. No one needed a prompting.”
“And they all spoke so well,” adds Ann.
“Thank Mom for that,” says Amber. “She coached us. She coached all of us.”
“So I gather,” responds Ann. “If I heard right from some of the ladies at the church,” Ann looks at Jill, “you made many of the sets too.”
“Will you, Mom?” Amber looks up expectantly.
“Will I what?” asks Jill, becoming aware that she tuned everyone out. “I’m sorry. I was distracted by something.”
“Will you help with a Christmas production next year? That’s what my Sunday school teacher was wondering about.”
“If I can,” answers Jill.
“I want us to sell this place and move to Camrose.”
Joseph clamps his jaws tight, praying no sound escapes and she can’t see a reaction on his face. The only thing that comes to mind is, why. Dare I ask? Do I even want to know why?
Then as if someone else is in control of his mouth, his voice calmly says, “Why?”
“I don’t feel at home here. I’m more welcome in Camrose.”
Reading Joseph’s bewilderment she continues.
“Do you remember, before you asked me to marry you, what you said life was like here for you?” Jill gives Joseph a chance to retrieve the memory. “You said the parents here didn’t trust you. They always chaperoned their daughters if you were around, as if they were protecting them from you. You said that you were part of the community, but you were also locked out of it. That’s what it is like for me. I’m part of this community but shut out of it.”
Joseph recalls the conversation and the ostracized feeling. The pain of those times causes him to involuntarily shift his position.
“This has been my home for twenty-one years.” Joseph can hardly recognize his quiet, plaintive, whimpering voice.
“You don’t think I know what the people here think of me and why? Just because I enjoy spending time with my children and homeschooling them, they think I’m some kind of alien or weirdo. For some reason, they feel threatened. I don’t say they should do what I’m doing. But they have no right to try to tell me what to do either.”