Before I grew spiritually, I experienced the feeling of being an outsider. I am a cradle Lutheran—born, baptized, confirmed, married—all at the same small rural church. These church members were like my family, our pasts interwoven through shared experiences.
Then I moved to an even smaller rural community and attended the Lutheran church there. I was welcomed by this new family. Then I noticed these were people who shared a long history in this church, and somehow I had slipped outside. Visitors were greeted with warm handshakes and true welcome—then eventually slipped through a gap, outside the circle of belonging.
I have since returned to my familiar church. But I understand what it feels like to be an outsider. Now I go to the new people letting go of my natural tendency to visit with old friends. I have learned that exclusion is subtle and unintentional. I am grateful to have learned the lesson of being an outsider so I can help others feel they belong in God’s church.
This message is adapted from “Reader Call” written by Elsa Ruth in the May 2005 issue of Lutheran Woman Today (now Gather) magazine.