A reader writes:
I shudder to think what an unreflective and glib person I could have become without that process. Not that I am never unreflective or glib, of course. But less so, I think, than if, ensconced in a relatively comfortable position - white, male, smart, educated, Western - I had never been forced to see what it also is to be an outsider, and to feel, even in a much milder way than many, the pain and cruelty and misery it can involve, and equally the dignity and life and vigor of so many under such strain.
Being a heterosexual white, male, smart, educated, Westerner, I very much was never forced to take stock of my emotional life, and was certainly never forced to feel like an outsider in any walk of life. That has changed for me recently too, in a strange sort of way - my wife is leaving me.
Being a Catholic raised in an extremely strong family untouched by divorce, I operated under what I know see as the smug assumption that, just like everyone else, I'd get married, have kids, and live my life happy. I never imagined that my wife would decide one day that she was never going to want children (and therefore could not stay married to me), and that I'd be left alone in a city that I wouldn't ever have chosen to live in, if not for her. It's been tough reconciling my new life with what I always thought my life would be like. While this emotional process is clearly quite different from coming out of the closet, a lot of the feelings I have seem like they would be similar - a sense of being unmoored, of fear of being rejected by the Church (and God) for something I don't have control over, a fear of the unknown future.
And yet, as you reminded me, feeling like an outsider, feeling the pain and misery, is exactly what lies at the heart my faith - the love of the Man that was the ultimate outsider, who suffered pain and cruelty and misery, but rose to dignity and vigor and life anew. Going through this process has forced me to change a lot of the assumptions I had about life, society, and people. I hope -- and trust -- that in the end, however backwards it all seems now, it will bring me a little bit closer to the truth of Christ.
What an irony that must seem to the Church.
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