The New Logic

A Place In The Margins

June 24, 2018
Margin
Noun mar·gin   \ ˈmär-jən \
1: the part of a page or sheet outside the main body of printed or written matter
2: the outside limit and adjoining surface of something: edge; at the margin of the woods; continental margin

 

I don’t know when the thought took root but somewhere farther than my memory will let me wander, I started believing that I didn’t belong. I didn’t make peace with that idea, though. I ran from it.

In my sprint toward acceptance, I have done everything a person could do to attempt to belong. I became conscious of how much I spoke in relation to how much other people were speaking so as not to seem off-putting. I let laughter bubble out of me at every possible opportunity to help people believe that they liked me. I became an expert at tip-toeing around feelings, adopting belief systems, and being just enough of a pushover so as not to ruffle any feathers. I have been desperate to be let into an inner circle for as long as I can remember, but not just any inner circle – the inner circle. I don’t want to be associated with the wannabes, losers, chumps, or try-hards. I want to belong to the group that belongs the most.

I don’t know when the thought took root but somewhere farther than my memory will let me wander, I started believing that I didn’t belong.

People ask me all the time, “Don’t you have a blog?” And I have to admit, for someone who wants people to like her so much, this question is humiliating. What if they see my blog and think I’m too serious? What if they see it and can’t take me seriously at all? What if they think it’s stupid and this conversation is their way of mocking me for it?

This blog started out as an audition of sorts. I wanted to use it to gain entry into the top tier of inner circles, the inner circle that’s been glamorized, high-earning, and glorified since blogs have been around: the inner circle of female Christian bloggers.

I wanted this blog to be a smash-hit. I wanted people to want my advice, look to me as an expert on certain niches of women in the church, to pay me to come and speak at some conference where people would come up to me afterward and wax eloquent about how something I wrote changed their life. I wanted to be at the center of this inner circle, but there was something askew, something I never wanted to admit: I don’t look like the typical female Christian blogger.

This blog started out as an audition of sorts. I wanted to use it to gain entry into the top tier of inner circles, the inner circle that’s been glamorized, high-earning, and glorified since blogs have been around: the inner circle of female Christian bloggers.

I am a Mexican-American woman in the American Evangelical church. I am not married, I’m not dating, and I am nobody’s mother. I drink, I swear, and my “sweet friends” are more spice than sugar if you know what I mean. My story is riddled with premarital sex, and porn, and shoplifting all under the covers of being a “good, Christian girl.” I am as far from “center” as it appears you can get. I stand on the edges with the guilty, the sinners, and the rejects all yearning for the middle. But part of what I’ve been learning for the last two or three years is that Christ didn’t come for the inner circle, he’s come to mingle with the marginalized.

I am as far from “center” as it appears you can get. I stand on the edges with the guilty, the sinners, and the rejects all yearning for the middle. But part of what I’ve been learning for the last two or three years is that Christ didn’t come for the inner circle, he’s come to mingle with the marginalized.

I’ve been a part of white, Evangelical circles all of my life, and while I’ve never been outright rejected because of my heritage, I’ve also never been affirmed in it either. I am well-versed in my privilege, and it is not lost on me that I look to most people like an average, white, middle-class woman. But there’s something in finally claiming my Mexican blood that God has been using to teach me about neighbor-love. There’s something about finding remnants of myself in the stories of those relegated to the outer rim that has helped me see Christ more clear than ever before.

There are so many of us in the American Church being called doubters because we don’t align ourselves with anybody’s prosperity gospel. We are the heretics and the legalists and the licentious because we speak truth to the evangelical power and because love has made us obedient and because we believe in radical, reckless grace. There isn’t a lot of space for us in this world, and there isn’t a lot of space for us in the American Church. So that’s what we’re going to be doing here from now on: we’re going to be making space.

There isn’t a lot of space for us in this world, and there isn’t a lot of space for us in the American Church. So that’s what we’re going to be doing here from now on: we’re going to be making space.

I want to talk about what it’s like to be a brown person in the American church and what it’s been like to wake up to the reality that as much as I want to be, I’m not white. I want to talk about what it’s like to be single in a Sunday service where the man up front only ever talks about his “smokin’ hot” wife or his kids, or how blessed he is to have a “smokin’ hot” wife and kids. I want to talk about what it’s like for the saints to assume you’re not complete until you’re in a relationship. I want to talk about what it’s like to be a woman with a sex drive in a place where sex drives make people squeamish and are reserved only for the men. I want to talk about what it’s like to be a part of the church as a female twenty-something in today’s political climate. I want to talk about the edges because I’m tired of hearing about the center.

So this space is for us, the margin-dwellers, the uncaged. It’s for the girls with brown skin, whose parents don’t speak English, who have never felt beautiful. For the dreamers, and the refugees, and the ones living in Section 8 housing. This is for the girls who struggle with their ethnic identity, and the ones who are sure of it. For the girls with no father, and no love life and the ones with kinky hair: you belong here, and we belong to Christ.   

This is for the girls who struggle with their ethnic identity, and the ones who are sure of it. For the girls with no father, and no love life and the ones with kinky hair: you belong here, and we belong to Christ.

If you don’t identify with any of these groups, that’s okay. There are a million blogs out there that you will find encouraging and nourishing and that all seem to speak directly to you. If you are like me and struggle to accept your ethnic identity and deal with your privilege, that’s okay too, but you might need to take this in small bites.

Whatever it is, we’ll make it through together.

With love and no man,

Jess

 

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