“This geek isn’t going to fit in,” one of the influential leaders said about me before I ever moved in here.
By geek, they mean I’m not athletic and I don’t care about sports. I think it also means that I like to read and enjoy good conversation.
He was right. I didn’t fit in.
I’m used to that. We ministers really are a strange breed, especially in blue collar areas where one’s worth is measured by how well he can raise livestock or drive a tractor.
My children were criticized for not fitting in well in this community. The implication is that there is something odd about them.
The last preacher’s kids fit in much more easily. Of course one of them narrowly avoided jail by making a deal with the DA to testify against his friend. And the others knew how to have a good time. So of course, they're missed.
But my children didn’t make the cut. Never mind that they’ve made A's in all subjects every semester they’ve been here. Never mind their achievements in art and music, as well as academia. Never mind that my older son has one of the school’s highest ACT scores ever. Never mind that they are articulate, kind, and have never once been in trouble at school.
The people don’t like my wife either. Like the kids, she’s too quiet, and she makes others feel uncomfortable. I guess it doesn’t help that she’s breathtakingly beautiful. I told one of the leaders that I was baffled by the criticism because my wife has been quite popular in other churches.
The leader tried to encourage me. “I’m sure she’ll be popular here one day, if she keeps trying.”
I was taken aback at what he implied. Later, after the moment was past and I was by myself I figured out what I wanted to say: “You don’t understand. It’s not that she isn’t measuring up. It’s THIS CHURCH that isn’t measuring up. It is THIS CHURCH that has failed. It’s THIS CHURCH that needs to do better.
I can look back and see where I would have done some things differently—that’s a normal part of evaluating. I can even see where there could have been some misunderstanding and I would have appreciated the opportunity to clear things up.
But I didn't make many wrong moves. I've done this work enough to know that I'm better than average at it.
And I worked hard to make things better for them. I visited them in the hospital. I comforted them at funerals. I taught and loved their children—I still love their children.
I don’t know how to end this post. I don’t know how I feel. I do know that we’re moving in two weeks and if I could pack up and leave tonight, I would.