Where Do I Fit In?
When I was growing up, we always attended one of the Lutheran churches in town.
Now I have no problem with the Lutheran church, per se. There are different kinds of people with different preferences, I get that.
But as a small child, I only knew that I would be required to sit, for an hour, and not talk. If I could not maintain stillness, I was sure to receive a painful pinch on the shoulder, or an elbow in my side. Even as an adult this sitting “still” is difficult for me. I can always sit, just not still, and I get to choose whether I speak or not.
Back in the day, every one really dressed up for church, but there was nothing finer than attending on a cool Easter morning, men in their suits and women and girls in all their finery. Springy dresses, bonnets, white gloves and the ever present white patent leather shoes.
None of which we had.
We wore the cleanest, not worn out clothing that we owned. I could feel the heat of the stares on my back as we walked up the aisle to our seats. It always seemed that we were less than, imperfect, those without.
Our dad never attended, even on those special days of Christmas or Easter. Often we would be dropped off, and picked up later. His absence was yet another thing that was my fault. My little mind imagined that in my wrongness.
I was often wrong at home. Every day I was wrong at school. Now here at the one place I should be right, I was wrong as well.
My hair was wrong, my clothes were wrong, our family minus our dad was wrong. Every church service simply proved more to me about my wrongness.
Fast forward, to when I was a young mother, going to a different church with my children, but not with my husband, where I felt the same burning heat on my back as we entered into a room with all the “perfect” people, all the “perfect” families all sitting perfectly still, in “perfect” little rows.
What on earth was wrong with me?
Was there anywhere I (and now my children) could fit in?
I could have written this. One of the reasons I maintain my strong stand against “wrong” – the thing is, all those right, perfect “holy” looking families were more than likely filled with little girls who felt wrong, too – and weren’t allowed to express that or they didn’t have words for it. Grateful you wrote this. My fear of being late – and not entering a building late – comes from my mother’s propensity to being late for church and arriving after my class had gone to chapel. I hid in the corner, mortified, one time – until Mr. Keller rescued me and took me to my classmates, still mortified, just a different sort of mortified.
Thank you Julie. I so appreciate your support.