A Place For Us
By: John H. Campbell
A world where you and I belong
Where faith and love will keep us strong
Exactly who we are is just enough
There's a place for us
-- Carrie Underwood, "There's A Place For Us"
I have to admit, my personal taste in music is vastly different from the song I quoted above and is often as unconventional, quirky, and vastly different from anything "mainstream" as the rest of my personality. My "playlists" at any given time are filled with a multitude of progressive hard rock and heavy metal with scarcely any music played on mainstream radio to be found, and my music collection contains a scant amount of selections in the country music genre.
I am not a big fan of Ms. Underwood's music in general, even though as a musician and a singer I can appreciate her talent, and as a radically liberal Christian and as a bisexual, I also appreciate her having gone on record as remaining both committed to her Christian faith, and simultaneously non-judgmental and supportive of the rights of the LGBT Community in recent times; she drew the ire of some her more conservative fans last year when she expressed support for same gender marriage, and admitted that the church she and her husband attend is not condemning of LGBT individuals. I have a sincere admiration for anyone who speaks about their beliefs from the heart and without fear - however unconventional they might seem to some others. However, I do admit, I don't own any of her albums at this time, as I just am not into the country music genre.
All of that aside, I not only enjoyed and appreciated her 2011 song. "There's A Place For Us" not only for the talent I felt it showcased, but more so because I can truly relate to the sentiment expressed in the lyrics. And despite the fact that at times I feel that there are some considerable differences of opinion between myself and others who are a part of both the LGBT Community, all of the others who consider ourselves to be believers in God and followers of Christ, and even those of us who are a part of the community which is both LGBT and Christian, there is a feeling I have experienced which the aforementioned song reminds me of I know that at one time or another nearly all of us have shared: that longing, that desire, for a place where we feel we truly belong. Not merely "tolerated" but welcomed and affirmed; perhaps not always among others who share or even necessarily understand our exact same thoughts and feelings, yet somehow validated all the same despite whatever differences exist.
As a bisexual man, one with some rather unconventional relationship dynamics, one who has some radically different ways of thinking about God and as someone who definitely still identifies as a Christian, I have experienced far too many times in my life those places where I felt that there was no way I could ever feel as if I could or would fit in anywhere at all, and felt as if I was truly an "outcast among the outcasts" if there ever was one. Although I am joyful to report that I no longer feel that way, it took quite a journey to arrive at the place I am now.
Just as great progress and tremendous strides have been made in recent years as far as a greater sense of communication, understanding and cultivating and developing a sense of acceptance and affirmation rather than ignorance or "tolerance" of the LGBT Community, there has also been a considerable sense of progress of the LGBT Community in general becoming more open to and welcoming to the "B and T" contingency of the Community, although this has not always been the case. I discovered this first hand when I first came out as a bisexual nearly fifteen years ago.
When I made the conscious decision shortly before that time to become a follower of Christ, and strive to practice the Teachings of Christ as my spiritual path, I was blessed to be in a denomination and a congregation which was open and affirming of LGBT individuals. Keep in mind that I had known I was bisexual all my life, yet had elected to attempt to ignore, hide and suppress that out of the false belief that I somehow "had" to. However, when I reached the place in my life where I turned to God, I was consciously seeking a spiritual path which allowed me to fully be the person I knew I was made to be, and it was only after I took the first steps down this path that I felt the courage and ability to accept myself as I am.
It did take me a little time to reach a place where I truly felt comfortable fully accepting myself and coming out as bisexual, but I was blessed with a great deal of resources - mostly resources I read, including this website. However, being able to come out confidently to others was where I was met with a few challenges and resulted in some surprising results in a few instances. Perhaps the greatest shock was that I seemed to face the most condemnation not from family and heterosexual friends, but rather from people in the Gay and Lesbian Community.
I am sorry to relate that there were a few who outright condemned me as they viewed anyone identifying as bisexual with a sense of animosity. Responses of "Yeah, I used to think that, too; you'll get over it" or "Can't you just pick a side?" unfortunately cut me as deeply emotionally as the homophobic hate of "Same sex attraction is just mental illness, you need help" or "We don't need your AIDS" I had received from a few heterosexuals who were not all that accepting.
And perhaps even a bit more distressing to me were the instances where I found myself ostracized by other Christians who were understanding of and accepting of gays and lesbians but rejected the legitimacy of bisexuality as a genuine sexual orientation or as being congruent with calling oneself a Christian. It was okay if a person identified as bisexual, but only if they were willing to repress and suppress half of that orientation and conform to the role of heterosexuality or homosexuality. Some Christians who would consider me and outcast were actually gay and lesbian Christians, which I was profoundly surprised by.
I would attempt to communicate that although bisexuality can be complicated, that by no means did I feel that it prevented me from being a Christian nor did I feel it prevented me from expressing the truth of who I am in a manner which was loving and respectful and considerate of all others, which to me represent the foundation for all ethics in alignment of what I understand the teachings of Jesus to be. When I would be open with them about the fact that I knew it is possible, albeit very non-traditional for a bisexual person to maintain honest and committed relationships with both genders simultaneously and that I had been able to do so, I would find myself either challenged and in some theological debate in an attempt to explain myself yet again, or rejected outright.
When I finally did (after seeing a few counselors and discussing things with my therapist) locate some support groups tailored to bisexuals and comprised of specifically bisexual identified people who were more accepting of my bisexuality and bisexual orientation, at first, I did feel a more significant sense of belonging, despite some differences of opinion on what the correct "definition" of bisexuality is. For some, it is falling in love without consideration of gender, and for some of us like me, it is feeling a sincere desire to connect intimately with both genders; some bisexuals elect to have monogamous relationships or marriages, and others such as myself feel more comfortable and fulfilled in honest but consensually non-monogamous relationships where we have partners of both genders. However, despite differences, I did feel as if there was a greater sense of being welcomed, and a respect for diversity in regards to sexual orientation.
However, I came to the realization that there was yet another hurdle, this time when the topic in one of my support groups arose of spirituality and God. A very vocal atheist was venting about how much they hated Christianity, and I spoke up with a comment in defense of my beliefs:
"You know how people have all of these negative false stereotypes about bi people, that we practice unsafe sex and transmit HIV to the heterosexual community, or that we lead on same gender or opposite gender partners or leave one for the other, and live totally promiscuous double lives, or how we're just confused or messed up, and how they are just stereotypes which do not always and very rarely ring true? It's the same thing for Christians. I am one. I'm just not judgmental of others. I keep an open mind, and I don't believe in a judgmental God but a Loving God. I might not take the Bible literally, but I do believe in God, and base my beliefs about God and my spiritual path on the teachings of Christ."
"You can't be serious," they responded. "It's not possible to be bisexual and Christian, the two are incompatible. The attempt to maintain both is just going to frustrate you and result in inner conflict. You need to make a choice between the two. You can't have it both ways."
The only response I could think of was, "Really." (Notice the absence of a question mark; this was on purpose as I was not stating it as a question, for I already knew the answer.)
I think she realized what she had implied in the moment of awkward and very uncomfortable silence (punctuated by one person attempting to stifle a giggle) that followed.
"I would have to agree to disagree on that one," I said.
The meeting ended shortly after that, and no one else seemed to be able or willing to discuss the topic further. I do recall that in the days that followed that I was wondering if there was any place that I really did belong. In my heart, I knew that God was With me, and that regardless of whether I really felt as if I "fit in" anywhere, there was a place and a purpose for me, yet I was faced with a sense of frustration that I was always going to be an outcast - even among others who felt outcast.
Let me backtrack a bit for a moment, in the years prior to the incident I just shared.
For the longest time, it felt as if my life was a series of closets, although there were but three in total: the closet of my sexuality and sexual orientation, the closet of my own experience of my sexual orientation and what being bisexual is to me, and last, but definitely not least the closet of being a confident and out bisexual who is equally and confident in his faith as a Christian amidst many in the LGBT Community who have a damaged view of what exactly being a follower of Christ entails. To complicate the matter even further, I found myself in the situation of coming out of all three simultaneously - or at least extremely close together.
Even though all of this transpired nearly fifteen years ago, I recall the process vividly. I went from living a life of denying God, denying my true self, and more than that, denying myself the right to feel at peace with myself and with God to growing into the person who I still am today. I hit one of the lowest points in my life, and that was when I called out to God sincerely for the first time, and for the first time ever listened and heard.
I had spent my life up until that point with a full sense of recognition of three basic facts:
One, I knew in my heart there was a God. It was an ugly and fear based misinterpretation of God I held up until that time, but no matter how much I would attempt to convince myself out of fear that there was not a God, the fact still held true. The only understanding I held at the time about the term "Christian" was the false belief that there was only one "correct" method of being a Christian, one based in legalism/fundamentalism and a God to be feared and obeyed until the constantly pending threat of Armageddon. Although in retrospect there were others who reached out to me with alternative points of view and a more loving perspective and understanding of God and Jesus, the fear I had been indoctrinated in was too great for me to open my heart, mind and consciousness to a far healthier sense of spirituality more aligned to what my heart longed deep down to believe and embrace.
Unfortunately, for far too long, I just rejected anything to do with Christianity or God in the fear that there was not another alternative to the judgmental and strict tyrannical idea of God I believed and had been told I had to believe in. I do know now that it was not God nor Christ, but my fearful ideations concerning God and Christianity I had adopted from others which were presenting the true problem and had created a stumbling block to my sincere desire to cultivate a real sense of spirituality.
It was not too unlike the issue of my sexuality and sexual orientation: I knew for a fact that I was attracted to the same gender as well as the opposite. When I finally heard the term "bisexual" while in high school, although I knew at that moment it was exactly what I am, I elected to simply deny it, and just as with the issue of my spirituality, attempted to just avoid thinking about it. As with matters concerning spirituality, I had adopted the beliefs of others rather than electing to follow my heart and what my soul was aware of. I had internalized so much of the condemnation and judgment against same gender attraction even though it seemed perfectly natural to me, and had also internalized the "black and white" mentality which has unfortunately created a schism for bisexuals, the false perception that one must be "one or the other" but that they cannot be both.
It is not to me too much unlike the same type of reasoning directed at me by fundamentalist Christians at the time regarding the Bible. I would suggest at times that I thought that there were some great spiritual messages in the Bible but that I don't think it was meant to be taken literally and the parroted response would always be "You either believe EVERY WORD of it as written, or NONE of it." Again - just as the "evangelical atheist" who attempted to invalidate my faith as a Christian in the same fashion some attempt to invalidate bisexuality as an orientation - there was that black and white mentality: "You can't have it both ways; you have to select one."
The third issue surfaced later, after I had come out to myself and to others as a bisexual and came to the understanding that for me, bisexuality was not merely the ability to have intimate relationships with both women and men, but rather the need to be able to express this through a relationship with both. I was neither willing nor able to repress half of my identity. Yet I found myself met with criticism, judgment and even at times condemnation not only from those outside the LGBT Community, but from some within it.
In all three of these instances, it took every bit of courage I had - which I know was only through the grace of God - to make that leap of faith and "dare to be different" despite whatever criticism others were throwing at me, or what fears from the past I had allowed to create the illusion of being separate from God, or somehow undeserving or unworthy of God's Unconditional Love and Grace, or a sense of meaning and self-worth.
But I had to take that leap of faith, to face the truths my heart and soul were speaking and trust in God to enable me to confront and defeat all of the fears which had been holding me back from the life I was meant to have for so long. By denying the reality of God's Love, by denying myself permission to fully be the person I am regardless of how others might judge me, and by not being open to seeking ways I could express who I am in a fashion which aligned with what I knew in my heart was at the core of Christ's Teachings - being loving and respectful of all of the rest of God's Children - I was limiting the possibilities God Had in store for me. Not only that, I was on a path of perpetual unhappiness, and the consequence was my acting out in self destructive ways. I was not, as some fundamentalists asserted, "headed for hell," I was living in it already. And an ugly hell it was: one of substance abuse, low self-esteem, and self-denial.
Rather than seeking to "fit in" what I truly needed to do was not attempt to change to be someone who I was not and not supposed to be, but being able to discern how I could be who I am and find my part, whatever role and purpose God had Designed for me.
And so, as I have related before, I sincerely did ask, seek and knock. I honestly sought God, and to understand what Jesus taught. I found a church and a community of faith where LGBT people and those with a non-literalistic understanding of Scripture were welcomed and began the process of rebuilding my faith on a stronger foundation. I went through the process of reconciling my spirituality and sexuality, and came to the understanding that there was nothing "unnatural" about me. I found the strength to come out to myself and to others as a bisexual, and found some people who were supportive of not only my orientation, but also supportive of my relationships. And at last, I was also finally able to find a few people who were accepting of all of the above, and who also were Christians, and shared many of my spiritual beliefs. No, not everyone was understanding, supportive and accepting (more on that in a moment), but for the very first time in my life, I felt truly at peace with myself, and with God. I was finally living my truth, without feeling the need to conceal things from anyone and that alone was one of the most liberating feelings my soul had ever felt. I could not help but be reminded of what Jesus said in John 8:32, when He stated that "the truth will make you free." It truly did, and that remains to be the case, thank God.
All of that considered, do I still sometimes feel as if there is no place for me, as if I never will truly belong and will always be considered some type of "outcast among outcasts", or get frustrated with feelings when I feel others are being critical and judgmental and leaving me feeling misunderstood? Yes and no. This is another point for which there really is no set, black and white answer.
Regarding being taken seriously as a Christian in a society which all too often equates the term "Christian" with "conservative evangelical fundamentalist", there is obviously a rift there. The very nature of my faith in that it gathers valuable spiritual truths from Scripture but does not consider the Bible to be a closed book inerrant and infallible as written nor the ultimate authority on all matters in life as well as my orientation and views on sexuality and relationships cements that into place most of the time.
However, one thing I have discovered is that over time, I have learned not to allow myself to perceive anyone with a different understanding of God, Christ or the Bible as an "other" or an "enemy", but rather others seeking the same God from different perspectives. Granted, some of those perspectives cling to old fears and misunderstanding - and all too often, some are expressed in what I feel to be a very unloving way which is not what I feel Jesus taught. But through remaining aware of this, and fervently seeking to remember that even those with differing ideas are equally love by the same God despite how differently we might understand God, it has opened up more communication where we can understand one another and seek to focus on the common ground and the common good. While I don't feel comfortable aligning myself with constant fellowship with others who consider my beliefs to be heresy, at least at this time I share a common love for God with them, and we can communicate with one another respectfully.
Regarding being accepted as a bisexual among both my heterosexual (forgive me, I strongly dislike the term "straight" as to me it implies that anything opposite that is somehow flawed) friends and gay and lesbian friends? For the majority of my gay and lesbian, heterosexual and even some of my bisexual friends who are in committed and monogamous relationships and marriages with same gender or opposite gender partners, my being bisexual and the unique but genuine relationships I have with both my female and my male partner is simply what I feel it should be, a non-issue.
However, from time to time, there have been a few for whom it is a point of contention. "Why can't you just make up your mind?" or "Why can't you just be one or the other?" have been among the inquiries a few have presented to me, mostly from friends of mine who identify as exclusively homosexual. Once in a blue moon I will get the comment of, "I just don't get the whole bi thing." And there are times when I feel as if I am considered the outcast among gay male friends when I talk about my relationship with my female partner or among my heterosexual male friends if I talk about my male partner.
I can understand the reasoning behind some of the apprehension among some heterosexual and homosexual individuals regarding bisexuals. Some bisexuals have unfortunately acted irresponsibly and in a hurtful way towards partners of the same and the opposite gender. Some have pretended to be one way or the other and pledged one promise to a partner, while maintaining a double life in secret. As a result, they have generated a mess of betrayal and hurt. In some cases, this secret life has led to their acting unsafely with no respect for not only their own health but that of their partner and/or spouse. Unfortunately, these types of irresponsible and unloving actions have created mistrust and prejudice of bisexuals in general.
But just as "all Christians" are not judgmental and legalistic fundamentalists who are determined to crush equality for LGBT individuals, "all bisexuals" are not irresponsible or inconsiderate of the feelings or needs of others, or careless, or dishonest, or promiscuous. There is nearly as much diversity among the bisexual community as there is among the LGBT Community in general or among Christians.
Some bisexuals are married and monogamous to a partner of the same or the opposite gender, others of us are in honest relationships with several partners, some practice celibacy, and others, such as myself, are committed to one woman and one man and consider both relationships to be meaningful, sacred and valid. Some are masculine, some are feminine. Some are transgendered. Some are involved in leather and the like, some are not. Some do not even consider the gender of their partners, some are attracted to both genders for different reasons. It is very diverse, and even though sometimes people agree to disagree, what does unite us is that we are in some fashion capable of intimacy with both genders. Just as there are so many diverse beliefs among Christians and the LGBT Community, and one size does not comfortably fit all, the same is true here.
While there is still a great deal of progress which needs to be made towards education about the legitimacy of bisexuality as an orientation and offering support to those who might be acting irresponsibly to help them develop ways to come to terms with their identity, I am grateful that in recent years there are more bisexuals who are being more open and honest about their orientation, setting the example that the negative stereotypes do not ring true, and doing all that we can to support equal rights for everyone in the LGBT Community. I strive to always respond to accusations that I am a "fence sitter" with the assertion that I am a "bridge builder" and will always stand committed to equal rights for everyone in the LGBT Community, including open communication between those who perceive bisexuals as a threat and those of us who want to reassure that the opposite is true - we want to stand united with and not divided from the LGBT Community.
Another cause I have encountered in the past for situations where I felt a sense of skepticism of bisexuals among my gay and lesbian friends have been situations where those of us married or in a relationship with an opposite gender partner are accused of "taking advantage of heterosexual privilege." My girlfriend (who is also bisexual and has a female partner just as I have a male partner) and I have been accused of this.
I have said it before, and I will say it again, though: there is no such thing as "heterosexual privileges" for an out bisexual. For starters, it's not your typical "heterosexual" relationship; we're both totally "queer" (and I apologize if that term is offensive to anyone; that is not my intent at all - we are just among those who feel comfortable with that as an inclusive term), supportive of all LGBT causes including equal marriage rights for same gender couple, and although we don't preface every conversation discussing sexual orientation, we certainly don't hide it. Bisexuals get the same and unfortunately often worse treatment from homophobic people; if someone is bashing, they don't just bash "half."
A few others cannot understand how we can maintain a sincere and honest relationship with both a female and male partner. They don't understand that even though she and I are committed and that we have other committed relationships how our presence is meaningful within the LGBT Community or what we can offer; in fact, the very nature of how we express our bisexuality is at times perceived as a threat. Yet, rather than debate, we just do as we do when met with anyone who is not accepting for any other reason - respond with love. What works for us isn't for everyone, but that does not matter. Fortunately the times are becoming more frequent that it is what I think it should be and how I feel God sees it, a non-issue, and we are able to just be and focus on the common greater good and work together.
And last but not least, there is the other issue: those in the LGBT Community who perceive my faith in God or Christianity to be a threat. There's already an established understanding in me of why there is a certain level of resistance to all things Christian for some, I know firsthand from experience all about it.
But that does not ever, and will not ever prevent me from being open and as unashamed of my faith as I am my sexuality. God and the teachings of Christ are the reason I was set free and liberated from the prison of fear and repression I lived in for so long, and I will never deny that. Just as I refused to "choose" half of my bisexuality, I refused to "choose" between being who I am and acknowledging my love for God and my faith as choosing to embrace both was the only possible choice which worked for me. I confidently wear a cross around my neck the same way I wear jewelry with a bi pride symbol on it, but that is not how I want to be recognized as a follower of Christ. Nor do I want the fact that I put "Christian" down under religious beliefs on forms or online forums, or my membership to a church to define that.
I want my faith to be expressed through action: striving to always forgive, to put love and caring for others first, to be as loving and as giving as I can. To be helpful by using my gifts to reach out to others in need, whatever their needs might be or they require to experience a greater sense of hope, of joy, of gratitude to God. To strive to do the loving thing, and never do to another what would be hurtful to me. To view my faith as something I can share to help another, and never utilized as a method to consider myself in any way superior to another, for that would be anathema to the very nature of what I think Christ taught.
As I reflect on where life finds me now, I have come to a realization which seems to utterly diffuse any negative feelings I may once have held about being considered an "outcast among the outcasts" and not feeling as if I fit in anywhere: maybe I don't, and perhaps I will never completely fit in anywhere. But an even more wonderful realization has accompanied that, the realization that it does not matter - maybe I don't have to in order to feel a sense of peace and share the joys God has Brought into my life with others.
I look back on the times when "fitting in" did matter. I personally feel that many of us adopt that need back in the purgatory - like refining fire of high school, often a microcosm of society and our first taste of adult life and how to cope with it. I think back to all of the times when I attempted to be someone I was not in order to fit in, and it suddenly occurred to me: the need to "fit in" came at an incredibly high cost, one which bankrupted me from truly being the unique person God Created me to be, which left me unavailable to so many of the true and meaningful joys in life which would come from embracing my true self and letting go of the need for conformity.
I thought back on the times when I felt rejected among others whom society considered outcasts or ones who did not "fit in" with the "cultural norms." I remembered the fundamentalists who had rejected me as a liberal Christian, people who rejected me as a bisexual, and then the atheist who had rejected me as a Christian. I began to wonder, what is it within human nature which appears to be to be a sickening need to create some "other," someone to exclude, someone we deem to be lesser or inferior to us, someone we can take our frustration about being rejected by someone else on? This to me cannot represent what the Loving God I know would want us to do, which is one reason that even if I disagree strongly with another I pray to never condemn them but merely to acknowledge that they are different from me, but still fully equal and valued by God, and I am called to treat them as I would wish to be treated.
I can say that I feel that more often than not, this imperative we sometimes feel to conform or fit in is a direct result of being hurt or made to feel devalued by others for being "different." I see it as more of a defensive response than any, a reaction to fear that it could transpire again. But in my experience, being defensive usually does not lead to positive results or any type of genuine growth.
And then I also consider what a lonely life it would be if I had maintained this requirement that I had to totally "belong," rather than learning to love others and develop and cultivate friendships despite our differences and seek to create, encourage and foster acceptance and understanding rather than attempt to assimilate or assert my views as correct and alternative views as incorrect; I knew I had hated it when others had done that to me.
I reflected on how when it was obvious to me that I was different from others that I refused to allow others to define me, and understood that no matter what type of rejection or opposition I might feel from others or whatever temporary lack of validation I felt, God Would See me through it, and Had more in store for me being the real me, rather than being someone who fit into a specific mold. I think of how good it felt to not allow the misunderstanding of others to prevent me from becoming stronger in my authentic self and spirituality. I remember how spiritually whole and at peace with God that I felt when I knew that I did not and should never change to please others or "fit" somewhere, but rather to maintain the courage to be true to who God Made me to be even when I felt like the fringe of the fringe and that there was nowhere I exactly belonged.
Deep down, and spiritually, I no longer care how challenging it is to be me at times when people just don't seem to get it. I am who I am and I am grateful to be exactly who I am and the phrase "I would rather be hated for who I am than loved for someone I am not" definitely resonates with me. However, because I am human, like the rest of us, I will admit: no matter how spiritually centered we may feel, we still all have rough days. I unashamedly admit that I once in a while will get frustrated about feeling misunderstood, and not really fitting in. That's a natural emotion, even though in the past attempting to fit where I know I don't belong or searching too aggressively for one where I do has led to complications and carried its own consequences when I would be better off to cease asking God for such and merely listening, being still and knowing.
If on occasion I do get frustrated, or feel that way, I have found an effective way to resolve those feelings, though.
I think about something a friend said to me once, as a playful joke in reference to my refusal to conform to certain ideas because it was the popular mainstream way of thought: "You always have to color outside of the lines, don't you?"
I responded with, "Well, God always colors outside of the lines, look at how diverse the world is." He nodded in affirmation, but then I said, "No, that's not it. For God there aren't any lines at all. We're the one who creates those."
And ultimately, that is what I have come to believe and understand from experience. These societal divisions, these boundaries and limits to love and acceptance we create are not something I think God Created. And I feel certain that to God there are never any "outcasts" at all. We create those limitations, out of our own fears, and fears of understanding. It is our human nature and the worst aspects of it which create the illusions of separation from one another.
Jesus knew this. He demonstrated it, much to the shock of the fundamentalist party in His time on Earth, the Pharisees. They were appalled that he did not see the same exclusionary fears and dined and kept company with the outcasts of His day, the ones who were deemed as undeserving and unworthy of respect and of God's Love by the mainstream society - all of the ones who simply, well, did not fit in. He not only had no concept of the lines, boundaries and limits to love we as people sometime allow fear to get the best of us and coerce us to create, He was here to shatter the idea that they existed. He was right at home with those who had been shunned by society, and acknowledged their wholeness as fully equal Children of God, fully worthy of God's Unconditional Love and Grace. Whatever "differences" others allowed to create division were simply a non-issue to Him as they always have been and will be to God. God's Creativity is to me seen in the wonderful diversity of Creation, as diverse as the rainbow itself.
I consider this, and it profoundly alters any thoughts or concerns I have when I get those false feelings of being an "outsider" among others who do not understand my uniqueness. Even when I do feel like that, now I think of it differently should I get frustrated. I think about the commonalities I do share with others rather than differences, and the things I have to share which walking away from a situation where I might feel misunderstood or fear I would be misunderstood would prevent me from sharing, and a thought always hits me. Even at the times when I am not surrounded by those who are kindred spirits on most matters which are meaningful to me personally, somehow I still fit in regardless, exactly where God needs me to.
I no longer always feel compelled to fit in, I am perfectly content to remain true to who I am even when I am misunderstood, but experience has taught me that even if I feel out of place, if I just be myself rather than looking for that place to fit, things have a way of falling into place. God's Wisdom is truly greater than I or anyone else can understand, and although we may not always be able to discern how the entire puzzle fits together, somehow it will if we maintain faith. I am grateful that my unique perspective and the times where I felt like I was on the outside looking in has carried with it the gift of being able to see different possibilities, perspectives and different sides of an issue, and be able to appreciate and respect differences rather than feel the need for there to be an "other" to be feared.
There is a verse I don't hear quoted all too often, but that has meaning for me personally from the Gospel of John:
"I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd." – John 10:16
Although I have heard various interpretations of this including everything from the "other folds" being beings on other planets or other religions, I have a different thought. I feel as if He might have been speaking in reference to the diversity of humanity and all of the different groups of people with different understandings, and that "one flock" is not referring to all believers assimilating to all be the same, but rather a coming together of all people despite differences for a common good.
Wouldn't it be something if all people could truly come together and we, like God, and Christ, could get rid of the lines which we allow to divide us or the false fears or limits on God's Love some still cling to, and matters like gender, or differences in belief and different tastes, differences in sexual orientation and opinion were exactly what they are to God, a non-issue? What if everyone could just be content to accept one another for who we are, who God Made us to be, and there were no more outcasts? What if there was no longer any need for separate communities based on differences, but just one loving and diverse world of people where none feel the need to justify themselves or explain themselves but instead just shared with one another? What if we all could unite as diverse and different children of the same Loving and Creative God and truly cooperate, and there was never anyone who felt out of place? This is the world I believe that God Wants, and through Christ gifted us with the methods and the tools to create.
I know that although I am blessed with so many in my life who are accepting, supportive, encouraging and understanding, that not everyone will always be able to understand my perspective, and just being able to accept that is accompanied by a sense of peace. However, I am certain that there may be others reading this - be they gay, lesbian, heterosexual, bisexual, transgendered or even another quirky bisexual like me - who feel as if they may not belong or fit in and may feel a need for belonging and a sense of validation.
Know this: even when we feel lonely, or left out, we never are. Your unique light, whether others can always see it or not, is there for a reason. Whoever you are, whoever God made you to be and regardless of whether or not others seem to understand you or accept you or even if they reject you, there is a place and a purpose for you too, and you do fit in perfectly in God's World. Your truth is valid and relevant, and the key is not to conform, but to seek Guidance on how to express the full truth of Who God Made you to be in a way which is loving and considerate of all others, and utilizes your own unique gifts to help those in need of what you can give.
Celebrate, not deny your uniqueness, for it is a gift. If others have ridiculed or attempted to make you feel inferior because you are different from them, do not allow it; they are only afraid of things they cannot or are unwilling to understand.
Share your light to others who are in need of it rather than conceal it for fear that showing it would result in being cast out. Never allow fear to obscure the possibilities God Has in store for you. The lines which humanity has created that divide us do not exist for God and should we elect to, we can move past them. They are only an illusion, and the more of us who attempt to erase them, the fainter they can grow.
Regardless of whether or not you feel there is a place for you, rest assured that there is. Right this moment there is somewhere at least one other person who feels or has felt out of place or as if they would never fit in, and there are countless others who have found that by simply being true to who they are and being themselves, everything falls into place, and they find that place where they are supposed to be and feel most at peace and closest to God.
To God, you already fit in perfectly. There are no outcasts, no misfits, and no mistakes to God. You too, whoever you are, are a valued and precious child of God exactly where you are supposed to be at this moment. If you are not at a place of peace with God and with yourself presently, then all you have to do is trust, believe, open your heart and mind and most importantly of all be true to yourself and to God - and prepare to be amazed at how things can fall into place, as you will be on the path to being exactly where you belong. That place does exist, for each and every one of us.
Copyright © by the author All Rights Reserved