Saturday, March 11, 2006

Feeling Out of Place Among Friends

Have you ever had one of those profound moments, where you just see something in the world about you that serves as a commentary of who or where you are as a person? One such moment happened to me a few years ago. I saw a group of ducks, resting on a small bit of shale underneath Gunnings Bridge.

Nothing unusual in that you might well think, except for one small thing. There amongst the Mallards was a Mandarin Duck... a drake in fact - very distinctive in both appearance and sound and very much alone. All the other ducks tolerated him and seem to get on fine at a distance... but he was still alone, one among many. They let him get on with his business, so long as he didn't interfere with theirs.

A friend told me that he'd probably escaped from a local stately home due to the flooding we'd had - 1998 was a bad year for floods in the Midlands. I thought this was cool, to have an unusual bird wandering in the river... maybe he could hook up with a lady Mallard and make a go of it... a bit of cross species interaction. Sue told me that she thought that Mandarins were too far removed from Mallards to interbreed... and that the other ducks would probably reject him. This made me feel incredibly sad and the feeling has never left me. I think I know why now... because several years down the road... I can see I have travelled a similar path to that Mandarin.

After many years of being trapped in an oppressive relationship, I too found my freedom. I paddled away down the river of life... and found the other ducks. However, most of them made it clear that I was to be tolerated as an anomaly... and not accepted as one of their own. Yeah... I'm a duck and they are ducks, we all do duck like things... we worship the same duck God (Daffy of course! Sorry, just kidding Lord), but as far as many of them are concerned - that is where the similarities end.

What is the point of achieving freedom... of mixing with other people, if they want you to remain on the fringe - just because according to their sociological pigeon-holing, that is where they believe you should be?

That's not freedom.

Having tasted the fresh air and swum in clean waters, I naturally want to do the things that come naturally to me. However it is infuriating when those around me say "No, you are a Nick - you belong here... you do this, you do that. You leave all the relationship stuff to us Mallards. You!? You don't even belong here... goodness only knows where you came from, but you can stay here as long as you dance to the tune we set for you."

I'm not settling for that... and do you know, I think that's why a lot of people do their worst to constrain me all the more.

From a psychological and social perspective, my walk with humanity has been much harder than my walk with Christ. When people become Christians they turn the back on the ways of the World. I had to do more than that, I had to turn my back on the ways of my own little world too. We are on trains heading for the same station.... we are all hurtling away from the sins of our past and heading for the same destination in Christ - but oh how I wish I could join you guys on your train.... but your train never ever seems to stop at the same stations as me.... so how can I make the switch?

OK it's a crude and very thick analogy, but that's what it feels like. Staring across through the window of your empty train carriage and seeing everyone else you know on another train having the time of their lives and waving to you occasionally. That's how it is. That is not how it can stay, or to quote Bruce Hornsby:

They say hey little boy you can't go
Where the others go
'Cause you don't look like they do
Said hey old man how can you stand
To think that way
Did you really think about it
Before you made the rules
He said, Son:

That's just the way it is
Some things will never change
That's just the way it is
But don't you believe them

...and I won't!

I'm not an aberration and neither are you.

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