awkward sundays.

sundays make me feel out of place.

i don’t belong at brunch.
or in a pew.

even if you don’t practice religion,
the day seems to be off limits to any real work.

the rest of the week i feel i have a place.
work. friends. students. dogs. home. outside.
anywhere feels holy and good.

yet sunday comes and this shift happens.
it feels as though i’m supposed to be doing something,
but i can’t figure out what it is.

i’ve searched for sunday in other places.

i’ve been open about the church abandoning me.
because of this, i’ve heard endless stories of people being hurt.
stories of people like me,
who invested their heart into a place
only to be met with locked doors.

granted, i might be the only story that has a
“i’m not legally allowed on the property” story,
but hey, go big or go home.

people have told me about
the ways a space created for worship turned unsafe.
a place meant for a deep breath, and people choked on the air.
people who claimed to love you, turning their backs.
a table where “all are welcome” suddenly has no vacancy.
an open door to all, is now sealed tight.

the church is now closed to me.
the people gone without a trace,

but that doesn’t mean god left.

in fact, god does most of the work in the wilderness.
rarely does she follow the rules we give her.
never does he fit in the box we design for him.

in the bible there are countless stories of the biggest leaders being abandoned by their tribe.

the hot shots, the pharisees, the government, the religious;
they have a tendency for kicking out the ones they feel threatened by.

it’s understandable.
when we are comfortable, we will do anything to protect ourselves.
that is how we become liars, cheats, and thieves.

we weren’t meant to be comfortable though.
we’d be fine to stay within the boundaries,
but hopefully you have bigger plans for yourself than living a
“just fine” life.

you were made for adventure.
for a whimsical, magical life.
you have gifts the world needs,
and ideas that haven’t been shared.

this is your life.
and that is no small thing.
in fact, it is the biggest of things.

it takes courage to step outside of the ordinary.
only the brave challenge the status quo.

in order to do this, we risk our safety net.
humans need one another,
and we are wired for connection. literally.
we are designed to be social creatures.

it is why we don’t speak up,
it is what makes us fall silent to injustice.

we don’t want to lose our place.
we don’t want to be tossed into the unknown.

how crazy it has been to discover what happens when you’re on the outside.
the people, the community, the love is so different.
the people there invite do not you because it is convenient,
maybe because they know the importance of inclusion,
they invite you because you are wanted.
there is no agenda, they just want to break some bread with you.

i found that god comes in many forms.
in a monday night bible study,
in a sand volleyball team,
in coworkers,
in coffee communities,
in a bar,
in a coffeeshop.

i’ve had my most meaningful moments in those places.
i think there is something beautiful on the outside,
something that can not be recreated.

there is a story in the bible i love,
but i prefer to put it into my words instead of quoting scripture.

this dude named jacob was the world’s best con-artist.
he did a bunch of shady things,
his brother wanted to kill him,
normal family things,
then he ran away.

as he was attempting to come home
a stranger wrestled him,
you know, as you do with strangers,
jacob demanded a blessing.
the stranger obliged only after destroying jacob’s hip,
causing him to limp for the rest of his life.

the text refers to the stranger as God.
i have come to realize this stranger may have just been a man,
and because God is who he is,
he uses us as the blessings.
and the divine is to be found within one another.

Jacob gets renamed after the wrestling match.
he struggled with god,

he was abandoned, ashamed, scared,
he made countless, life altering mistakes,
and even though,
he knew he was meant for a life far greater than a wasteland.

jacob was changed, not by the leaders of the church,
jacob was blessed by god, not in the pews,
jacob built a nation, not by being in the right small group.

it happened because he knew who he was.
that there was a bigger story he was a part of.
he faced the reality,
he accepted the limp that came with it.

healing hearts find refuge in the shade of the trees,
and in the sunlight.
in the once unknown wilderness,
a bunch of outsiders come together
creating the most ragtag group of rejects you’ll find,
and the most loving, authentic misfits to date.

maybe you don’t think you belong anywhere.
maybe you think the church has no home for you.
maybe your family has painted you as the black sheep.
maybe you don’t always understand social cues.
maybe your friends don’t encourage you.
maybe your friday nights are spent online.
maybe you have lots of circles, but don’t fit into any one of them.

while the wilderness is painful,
and at times torturous,
i can promise that you will find rest.
you will find others.
there are tribes that will welcome you.

let me repeat that:
there is a place for you.
right here. right now.

just as you are.
not for the person you will be,
but for who you are right now.
for the person you are becoming.

we all may be different,
you could very well be an outcast,

but we are also the same.

we are struggling to love,
failing at it, and trying over again,
finding out how to belong.

if you have found yourself on the outside
and the maps you have are now void,
the familiar faces have disappeared,

there is hope in tomorrow.
you were made for a wild, whimsical, adventure.
it is okay to take it.

there is beauty waiting for you to discover it,
if you are willing, you will find it.

you might have to wrestle through the night.
you will walk with a limp after the wilderness.

i promise you the glory comes.
the sun rises.

the sun rises.

the wilderness surrounding you,
the unknown now familiar.

and you will realize it is sunday,
and you will look around
and realize you are home.

and that you belong here.

you have the whole time.

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