When You Feel Like You Don’t Belong – InCourage

AV 6-30

Carly here!

I love news. World news. U.S. news. I even appreciate weather news. (I check my weather app several times a day…yes, several. Text me if you ever need to know the current state of the radar in Illinois and I have specifics. Specifics!). But, as anyone who regularly has their head in the news knows, so much of our current events are disheartening. I think specifically of stories about terrorism, and how the threat of terrorism effects each of us around the globe. It can make you feel like you don’t belong here…on earth. It can even make you feel like you don’t want to be here, where violence thrives and innocent people are killed. In Ann Voskamp’s words, it can make you feel like an exile. She wrote a thought-provoking piece on InCourage this week.

When You Feel Like You Don’t Belong

Someone has to be that Mother.

That mother who drives a full 3 hours to the border with a packed mini-van and anxious kids and creeps through a 20-minute traffic backup under the hot beating sun — only to rifle through her wallet and look up feebly to tell the custom’s officer she doesn’t have birth certificates for 2 of her children.

So that would be me.

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“Do you have any ID at all — for either one of them?”

The custom’s officer asks it gently. Like he doesn’t want to push the flustered and flailing over any imagined or very real edge.

He glances back at the long snake of vehicles behind me, waiting. In the sun. That’s not moving either.

“Um . . . no.” I shuffle through my wallet again. “No, sir — I don’t.” Does the earth open up and swallow the Abiram of mothers?

“I’m so sorry, sir. If I can just turn around?” I close up my wallet and I can feel it up the neck, the face — the mother-shame burning like a red-hot brand. How in the world? What kind of mother . . . ?

I’m already cranking at the steering wheel, trying to get this mess turned around, thinking that when you can’t swallow down any grace, you turn yourself back from the land of the free.

“Just a moment, ma’am. Open up the door here.” He waves my passport in the direction of the van’s side door. I fumble behind me, try to unlatch it, still hoping the earth might open up instead. The officer pops his head in. “Birthdates, kids.”


Joshua states his month, day, year and Hope leans forward and I’m the realist who doesn’t hold out much hope at all.

The officer taps it into his computer, glances over at me, “And are they Canadian citizens?”


And I really try to say it like I’m not always a tentative Canadian, like it’s not a question, like I’m dubious, like I think he’s just gleefully extending the torture of my ineptness and embarrassment of not having one piece of paper to prove anything — because isn’t this the United States of America and when exactly did they start letting in hicks without a passport, without a birth certificate?

He looks up from the screen.

“Welcome to the United States, ma’am. Have a nice day.”

And he hands me my passport.

“Welcome?” Um . . . Really? “But if you let us into the States,” I stammer it out, “will Canada let us back in next week?”

“Well, if they are really Canadian citizens,” the officer nods smiling, “if they are really Canadian citizens, they can’t be denied entry.”

I sit there shaking my head, stunned, and the officer keeps nodding his head, yes, and is entry in always firstly a matter of where you are born and being born again?

Twelve miles down the road and the kids and I are still laughing wonder right out loud, “Thank you, Lord, thank you, Lord, thank you, Lord!

There’s a grace that lets the impossible and failing in and how can we ever get over this?

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We pass a church and its steeple pointing the way Home.

We turn a corner where a yellow house bursts like a full summer sun.

We drive by horses in a field with tails blowing free, with the sky big and round and circling, like the lid being lifted right off, and I feel this.

In Christ, you’re a native of heaven right now. You aren’t a citizen of here trying to work into heaven. You’re a citizen of heaven trying to work through here. The sky keeps unfolding all down the road.

When your ethnicity is heaven, then all adversity offers the gift of intimacy, driving you into the home of His heart.

I’m a mess and I keep driving, smiling, and I know my citizenship and where this road leads. Who in the world gets over this?

There are hills and there are detours and there is this getting lost and it feels so late and it can creep in every day like the dusk, this feeling like a failure, and there is Scripture in the stereo, Hope in His Word, and I try to remember to breathe, lost and right turned around.


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