Friday, August 8, 2008

Repeating Junior High

I’ve attempted to write about this on several occasions but have deleted my writings several times because some things seem to be so deep they are difficult to express. Besides, I didn’t want to bore anybody or appear to be whining. But, perhaps tonight I will get onto this screen what is in my heart. We’ll see….

Think back to junior high (what they call middle school now days). For some of you, myself included, you get butterflies in your stomach even at the mention of the word. I remember in junior high simply not understanding the unspoken rules enough to figure out how to be accepted. Of course, I DESPERATELY wanted to fit in, but I simply never could. It was a terrifying predicament to be in. The ONLY way to be accepted was to expose oneself, and yet this held the greatest risk of emotional and social annihilation. There were so many hidden land mines: the possibility of using the wrong tone, the wrong word, the wrong timing, having the wrong shoes, socks or hair style; all were possible mines primed to explode in one’s face, shattering one’s meager and precarious self-esteem.

Well, for me, playing volleyball on Guam has felt similar to re-doing junior high. Pathetically, I don’t think I’m going through it much better than I did in junior high. There is only one place on Guam for women to play volleyball, and that only twice a week. So, like junior high, I am forced to attend—if I want to play (which if you know me, you know I do). The women are very talented and are very serious about the game; unfortunately, the WAY they play is different from how we play in California in MANY subtle ways. All these subtleties make me a DEFINITE outsider. As I drive the twenty minutes to the gym, my heart pounds and my hands sweat. If only I could figure out how to do it their way! If only I could know their unspoken rules and avoid the land mines. The subtle looks they give each other when I step on a land mine makes me want to crawl in a hole and cry. At other times, I want to scream at them and tell them what I think about their “dumb” rules. The humiliation is sometimes almost unbearable. It is this feeling of mortification that has been the impetus to many discussions with God.

As painful as this situation has been, there is something very powerful and positively life-altering about it. The last time I felt like an outcast was junior high. My birthday was yesterday and so I am reminded of how long ago it was that I last felt these feelings. The desire to feel accepted and to belong is incredibly strong. I had forgotten how strong. I had taken for granted my ability to walk into seemingly any situation and nearly effortlessly fit in. And now, I am the “foreigner,” the “outcast.” I have found that the best way for me to successfully navigate a night of volleyball with these women is to spend the twenty minutes driving to the gym praying. My prayer is, “God, help me be humble. Help me be teachable. Help me love these women more than I love myself.” It’s amazing and pitiful how difficult this is for me. It has caused me to see a side of myself that is disappointing; and yet, an aspect of my life that would otherwise go unchallenged is being conformed into the likeness of Christ. It has also been a poignant reminder of the painful isolation and rejection that so many people feel on a daily and even hourly basis and their desperate need for our Savior, who was despised and rejected. What an incredible forum volleyball provides to share the hope found in our God who will never leave us or forsake us.


SLS said...

Ouch. My stomach hurts and I want to cry. The Jr. High rejection thing is all too present right now. It hurts so much to think of the people who live like that every moment of every day.

Anonymous said...

You are an amazing women and I think some great things are gonna happen from your experiences. I am so sorry about the Jr. High thing I really never knew. You were so nice to me is what I remember. Blessings your way!