A new friend reached out on Facebook this week and asked me to pray for someone she cares about who is barely hanging on. Of course, I said, of course I'll light a candle and pray. (It's feeble and it often feels like nothing, but can't we believe deep down that it's something?) That was days ago now and I'm still thinking of this person, an orange flame still flickers on the downstairs mantle. I remember well the darkest days of my own pilgrimage, days when the sun went down like lines on my arms. I think about my husband's dark night of the soul long ago and how he googled ways to end it all. They say life is short but for some of us it seems far too long.
Maybe that's you?
You're lonely and hurting, aching and throbbing with the wounds of not belonging. You're both too much and not enough for the circles you intersect with. You're family-less. You're different. You sit on the margins of society and peer in. You don't know why you can't just be like everyone else, why you can't will yourself to become more palatable. Your square edges don't stand a chance of sliding into all the damned round holes that surround you, and day to day you waver between giving it all the finger or dropping to your knees begging to be let in.
You find ways to escape it for awhile. In drink or in sex or in micromanaging or in eating or not eating, or in any other way that we're so good at medicating the pain of our otherness. But it's never enough, of course it's not, and some days you think about how good it would feel to just slip away into the Nothing.
I know there is nothing some stranger on the internet can say that will heal all the wounds or wrong all the rights. But I'm going to say some things to you anyway; things that probably won't change your life but will be true nonetheless, because sometimes truth has to be spoken regardless of the likelihood of it's being believed.
You are a gift. You see things that others don't, and we need your vision. You see the injustices of the world and maybe right now it feels like they're breaking you but one day, indeed, you will break them. The very places where society has failed you are the places that you'll have the chance to rebuild, brick by brick. You have the unique perspective to be an advocate and when you emerge from this haze, you will be a tiger defending the defenseless. It's in you.
You are not alone. Sounds like the cruelest of lies, doesn't it? But it's just the opposite. Do you remember in Harry Potter, how Luna told Harry that if she were Voldemort she would try to isolate him, because on his own he wouldn't be much of a threat? Hate and despair dwell in isolation. There are people with whom you can be stronger together, with whom you can link arms to push back the darkness. Find your people. They might be in a support group of ones who share much in common with you, or they might be stumbled upon in an unlikely place you never would have thought to look. Find them, whatever it takes. Push back the lie that you don't belong, because you do. You have much to give.
You are loved by God. Maybe you already know that. Maybe you're an atheist. Maybe you're somewhere in between. Wherever you stand, I respect it. But in that respect, I will still tell you what I've found to be true: there is a God who is infinitely better, kinder, more compassionate, and more loving than the humans who try to represent him. Sometimes people are idiots, and I'm so sorry if they've hurt you. But it's not true that you are unloved. In fact, you are infinitely more loved than you could ever imagine yourself to be.
I can't say for sure how your story will end if you hang on here. But I believe that truth, beauty, and goodness exist in our world, and I believe they exist for you. Please don't give up; your presence here is a gift. You are a part of us, and we are all the better for your being among us. I hope that one day you can believe it.