From the Rhino’s Pen,
It’s been a long time since I have “officially” blogged. I would love to make a brilliant excuse, but I don’t have one. Suffice it to say, I should have done better. But, we are here now. Today, I blog! Let's talk about the Alien Nation. No, not the kind of aliens from outer space, and not an entire nation of them, or even a nation of….. never-mind. Let's talk about alienation, one word not two. By simple definition: the state of being isolated from a group that you should be allowed to be a part of. Most of us have felt that at one point or another in our lives. Many are feeling it now, along with isolation, quarantine and desperation. All very real and honest emotions. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to work diligently to make sure we do not alienate others. Of course you know me well enough to know that I like to look at things from both sides of the coin. So let's do that.
I write this, not out of necessity, but because I was one who alienated myself for many years. I almost quit pastoring because of it. Sadly, I see this in many others still today. Not to put blame on anyone, but to make you aware that when you feel like you don’t fit in, and others don’t do much to help you fit in, it is easy to withdraw and try to do it all within yourself. When this happens, you begin to feel more emotions of resentment, anxiety, and aloneness. Again, I have been there. Let me make this VERY CLEAR, you can only do it on your own for a season or two and then you will drop out, burn out or quit all together. When this happens, you may go to the next thing, and then the next and then the next, etc. I remember clearly telling my wife start packing. I am resigning Sunday. I can’t do this anymore. Looking back, I can see where I was being alienated, but more than anything I was alienating myself.
How can I recognize it and change it? First, if you are feeling alone, alienated, frustrated, take a deep breath and understand you are not alone. Almost all of us have been or are there. Recognize that there is a problem. This is not how it is suppose to be. Now, recognize that while others may have contributed to it, they are probably battling the same feelings you are. That in itself means you are not alone in this, or you can choose to believe that you have no fault in this and that you are a victim and continue the downward spiral. But you are smarter than that. Recognize that you can help get past this. We know there is a problem, now how do we fix it? Good question. I do not have all the answers, but I have a few suggestions that might just help. Ready? Still with me?
One of the biggest things that I had to learn when i felt alienated and wanted to fit in was that people did want me around. They really did! Especially in groups that were like minded. Car guys, motorcycle groups, Preachers, etc. What I found out was, after much trial and error, and a pastoral care group to help me was this. Ready? This is number 1. People want you around, they want to share with you, and want you to share with them, they do not want you to fix them. 1. Listen, don’t fix. This was so hard for me, especially with cars, when folks would share about their car, I would tell them how to make it better. (side note) They were not asking how to make it better, even if it sounded that way to me. They were sharing with me, they wanted me to see the beauty in what they had to this point. Not, for me to tell them how to make it better. It made me alienated very quickly, and it was my fault. I was trying to be a hero, and I just sounded arrogant.
The second thing I learned is that, folks do not care how much better I could do it than them. The quickest way to become alienated, (I still do this sometimes :-( ) is for someone to share their victory and you to share a ONE UP story. You are trying to relate, and they are thinking, “Here we go again. Let's hear how you did it better.” I did not mean to sound that way, but looking back, it sure did. Try to just listen, and rejoice with them. Eventually they will want to hear your stories too. It takes time to build things, especially relationships. Lastly, because I am running out of pages. I could go on. 1. Don’t fix people, 2. Don’t one up people. 3. You will be alienated, you will be hurt, you will even at times be under-minded and even talked about to put it mildly, but you still have to trust people. I am not a smart man, but I have been to the school of hard knocks, and received my masters degree. And I have learned this, if you can’t trust people, people will never trust you. You can never feel like part of something without trust, and it's hard to feel trust if you don’t trust. I have battled this my whole life, for many reasons. Let me summarize and close.
Recognize there is a problem before you quit or burn out, and that you need to do your part to solve it. STOP trying to fix people, folks want to be heard, not fixed. STOP trying to one up folks. No one wants to be around someone if they feel putdown constantly. LEARN to trust, even when it seems impossible. This is maybe a good start to getting plugged in and feeling less alienated.