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My Tribe Makes Me Uncomfortable

Playing Softball at the Jamboree

Playing Softball at the Jamboree

I’ve realized for a while now that I don’t run into much diversity in my usual trek of home/school/work/church. Which generally runs under the radar because most of the people I see look a lot like me -- white, reasonably fit, tallish, pretty well dressed. Good looking spouse. Attractive kids.

Nice house, green lawn, newish minivan or sensible but nice car. Cute pet.

So naturally, it’s easy to assume that this is what the world looks like.

Imagine my surprise, then, when The Boy, The Mom, and I went to the Little League Challenger Jamboree in Norfolk a few weeks ago.

Nobody looked like me.

And it discomforted me.

Me! Who spends a good part of every week with The Boy, who is certainly a wonderfully odd fish. Me! Who recognizes my own athletic abilities in the abilities of The Boy’s softball teammates. Me! Who celebrates weirdness.

Yes, me.

First at the hotel, which was very nice. But that part of Norfolk has a lot more ethnic diversity than my part of Richmond. And I noticed the heck out of it. “This is different than home,” I realized.

Then came the Jamboree opening luau. If I thought the hotel was more diverse, man! the luau was crazy. Here was a big, glorious mess of economic, social, ethnic, intellectual, physical, emotional differentness. Spinning, turning, dancing with abandon. And I felt overwhelmed.

The Boy did, too. But he had a good excuse. Crowds and noise are hard for him to process. Me? No excuse.

But like I said, this is my tribe. They are my tribe by circumstance, and my tribe by inclination. So it would be silly if I didn’t let them be my tribe by choice. So I hung in there. After regrouping at IHOP (amazing cross-cultural experience for The Mom) we hit day two. And did much better. Decided to engage, rather than hang back. And by day three, we were rolling with the best of them. 

So what’s my point? This: I’m all about hospitality and diversity, but sometimes it’s hard. And being hard doesn’t make it any less worthwhile. So if I may, let me encourage you to reach out to that strangely-dressed young man. That lady who doesn’t seem to be fitting in. That person who gives off a strong “other” vibe.

Be safe, but be bold.

And just maybe, you’ll be able to get your freak on at the next luau you’re invited to.

BONUS: Here’s a great podcast describing life with my tribe: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05sttjh

Through the Roof

A Blog Supported by the Mosaic ministry of Third Church, ECO

"Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on." (Mark 2:3-4)

About: This is a blog about accessibility, intimacy, and community. About being welcome.  It’s also about bringing up The Boy. He's 11 years old and has cerebral palsy. Also popping up are The TeenGirl, who just turned 13, and The Mom, who is awesome. It's written by The Dad. It's my words, my view. Other people will think differently and have different opinions. Good.