Monday, June 03, 2013

How Being Despised Led to Belonging

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about  becoming a member of a bloggers' collective called "The Despised Ones" , based on 1 Corinthians 1:28:

"God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are"

Ever since I began blogging regularly a little over a year ago, and became active on Twitter, I have seen what I perceive to be different groups of people and different levels of people and groups of people in this strange world.  I've slowly developed some relationships, but for the most part, do not feel as if I really fit in.  It brings back images from middle or high school (those lovely years!) when I had friends, but I was never really a part of the "in group".  

And so, when I found myself added to the group, I appreciated being noticed.  I was surprised and flattered to start getting new friend requests on Facebook, but I also let people know that I am slow to accept them until I get to know people.  

But it's a paradox, isn't it, to find myself "fitting in" and "belonging" to a group that is based on not belonging?  Because the low and despised in the world are those who are dismissed, who are looked down upon, who do not belong.  I have, through being considered part of an "out group", become part of an "in group".

I think that, deep down, we all really do want to belong to something, no matter how much of an individual or loner we might be inside.  It gives us comfort and security and contributes to our self-worth.  We want to feel appreciated, liked, loved.  When we belong to a group, and others don't, it makes us feel better about ourselves.  That might be one of the reasons that in so much of Christianity, we have an attitude of who is in and who is out, because we want to belong to the in group, the right side.  In belonging, we feel as if what we think is wrong about ourselves is cancelled out and that we are worthy.  We will think better and more positively about ourselves.  We will take pride in belonging; we will put the "Despised Ones" badge on our websites.  We will, in a sense, boast about belonging.

In 2 Corinthians 11:30 Paul says,  "If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness."

I had joked that a past blog post had made me consider starting a hashtag about boasting in weakness, where we all tweet about what we are so bad at, and that since I had never followed through, that I should put following through as something I am bad at doing.  There's a danger, though, in taking pride in being "despised", a sort of false humility that comes along when one wants to talk about how despised or persecuted we are.  It can be a way of saying "oh, poor me, nobody likes me" in order that others will then say "oh, no, that's not true!"

So I'm not sure what to think of being a "Despised One".  What makes me "worthy" of the title, and someone else "not worthy"?  Is it possible to become despised within a group of despised ones?  Is there a group that can come along that is "more" despised and bring this group to nothing?

Perhaps, the weakness here is that pride can work itself into anything that we do or believe, and that we will always be brought to nothing, no matter who we are,  or what group we belong to, in order to do as Paul also did when he told the Corinthians that he "decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified." (1 Corinthians 2:2).  


Chris said...

I wrote in my own post on the subject (this is Chris Attaway by the way) that I think we should be careful to revel in the things which we lack. The notion of boasting in our weakness is not a matter of "Yay! I suck!" Rather, it is a glorification of the things God is doing through us.

You may have seen the discussion on the yetzer tov and yetzer rah that occurred in the Despised Ones Facebook group, and I think it applies here. The Jewish culture which developed into Christianity would have understood Jesus as not applying His own will (yetzer rah) but submitting to the will of the Father (yetzer tov). I'm probably butchering part of that, but when Paul is talking about boasting in weakness, he is, I believe, discussing this dichotomy, though perhaps introducing it to a culture not already familiar with it.

Let us boast in the work of God. Let us boast in the wonders of love. Let our love be the accuser of those who despise us.

Kelly J Youngblood said...

Hi Chris :)
Yes, I agree with you, but I think the temptation is still there to make it about us and not God.

I missed the conversation you mentioned--that group's been a busy place! I'm not quite sure of saying yezter rah is Jesus' will and tov is the Father's will, though. My understanding is that the yetzer hara is the evil inclination, which we all have, and the yetzer hatov is the good inclination, which we also all have.

Chris said...

There was something about God's will and Christ refusing to exercize his will... and it had to do with yetzers. I will have to look it up, I suppose.