I don't know why I keep hoping that one day I won't be. I think there is something in the heart of every human being that wants one day to belong. An almost unquenchable hope. I sit here looking at those sentences and wonder how often that hope leads people into joining in with things that they so know are wrong just, just to belong once to some group.
I don't belong. And I still long to.
What has hurt in the aftermath of dealing with this crisis is the stark reminder that I do not belong. I am a foreigner, a stranger.
I've been a part of this team for seven years now. For seven years, we have lived with, worked with, played with, and been a part of these people's lives. We shared houses, shared meals, and shared work. We painted, moved, ached, and laughed together. I've been there for every baby's birth, every hospitalization, sickness, and celebration. We've put our life into our team, and they have become family.
But I am still a foreigner. My husband is not, but I am.
When this crisis hit, no one came. I sat alone, very alone, for the first two days, and then after that my house was filled with volunteers from the church helping. But no one from our team.
They told me later on why they did not come. "You are a foreigner and different than us, so we didn't know if you wanted us there."
I may be a foreigner, but I am still human. I still hurt.
That hurt again to hear that... "you are a foreigner". Still. Seven years later.... likely it will be the same twenty-five years later, or forty. Always a stranger.
I am a stranger where I live. I am a stranger when I go "home". I am stranger in my team. I am a stranger where I work. Forever a stranger.
One day, I want to walk in somewhere and hear, "she's home". Likely it won't be until I am home. This being a stranger is difficult.
But I have learned Hebrews. And when I turn my eyes up to God with pain at again being excluded as the stranger, I hear what is written about Abraham. He lived as an alien... as in a foreign land.
Then the verses which repeat in my head over the hurt of again being slapped in the face with the very fact of being a foreigner. "All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them."
Every time tears fall over being always a stranger, God quietly repeats those verses to me. He is not ashamed of me, and He has prepared a city. In that place, I will belong. In that place, I will no longer be a stranger. Neither will the very ones who call me foreigner right now. We will all belong.
Comfort. But comfort which does not take away the pain. It still hurts to be excluded, to be left uncomforted in pain because "you are not like us". Life still hurts. I still long to walk in somewhere and be at home. I still want to belong.