“The Middle” – A Haiku

Regressives one way.
Oppressors are opposite.
The Center is choked.

Much of my life has been a struggle with not fitting in. I’ve written before of how I never quite understood social cues as a child, and even though I’ve learned how to “read” a room I’m still uncomfortable in social situations. I feel my presence is a bother to others 1, and so I’m very cautious about entering into new social situations. I don’t like to go where I’m not welcome — my life is socially awkward enough.

As a pastor this struggle is agonizing, and each step I take outside my personal space is terrifying. And yet I keep stepping out because I want my life to be a blessing to others, even the “others” I fear will suck my energy reserves dry 2. And so I’m part of region staff for ABCNJ, sit on the board of, Riverview Estates, have become a police chaplain, and am growing 3 relationships with Habitat For Humanity and Urban Promise. It’s all good work, and I feel like I make a positive impact in these spaces.

But more and more I finding I’m having trouble fitting in 4.

In our current cultural climate ideological purity has trumped all other metrics of a person’s worth. Not being an ideological purist, I find myself squeezed between warring factions.

In politics I’m a left-leaning independent. That’s not good enough for my social circles which are decidedly progressive 5, and it’s a target for those who are decidedly conservative 6.

In faith I’m a non-Evangelical who also happens to be little-o orthodox in theology. I find Evangelical approach to faith to be a-historic 7, and the Progressive approach to faith to be anti-historic 8. When warring Protestants conspire against each other to win whatever battle is important that day I feel like an alien 9.

On social issues I’m an avowed moderate, which seems to mean everyone has a license to toss ideological grenades in my direction until I get off the fence.

Most days, I’m mentally, spiritually, and emotionally exhausted. I look at the world around me and realize, in our wider cultural setting, I don’t fit anywhere. Thankfully, I’m blessed to pastor a church of people who also don’t fit anywhere in our wider cultural climate. I’m not sure where I’d be without Central.

But the Middle is being beaten by the assaults of both Left and Right. I’m not certain how much longer I, and people who might find themselves in a similar position, can hold on. And I am concerned about what will happen when we’re gone. Ideologues keep using warfare language, and without the Middle to moderate their worst impulses that may very well be what we get.

And so I hold on, painfully hopeful a space for life may yet flourish.


  1. Which is mostly because I find the overwhelming presence of people to be oppressive. 
  2. That is, everyone. 
  3. Slowly
  4. Middle child syndrome never really ends. 
  5. I am often told, by people who assume I agree with them, people like me are the actual problem. 
  6. I am often told, by people who assume I agree with them, I am mentally deficient. 
  7. The protest, when discussing church history, “But weren’t they all Catholic?” breaks my heart. 
  8. I know it’s the hip thing to do, but expecting people who lived in a completely different social setting to recognize what people now recognize about patriarchy is irresponsible. 
  9. And it doesn’t help to have all sides telling me, “You’re not one of us!” 

10 Comments

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    • You voiced something I’ve been feeling a lot lately, especially in trying to support my daughter’s school. Our church is 150 years old; 10 years into their existence they founded a school. So you’d think the school would matter, yes? Nope. Most of the church wants the school gone. Don’t give a shit. Even the pastors treat it like an after-thought. After living in Milwaukee for years, and seeing schools and churches close one after another, I just want to go smacking heads and yelling, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” But being female, that’s rather frowned upon in my conservative synod. Other parents want the school to do more, but don’t want to rock the boat. And the teachers–half the staff is fresh from college–get swamped with extra duties by the church without a blip of thanks because, Ministry!
      And now I’m ranting. Apologies.

    • The “because…ministry” thing is hard. I’ve never understood it. Why do people want the school to close? Is it from financial pressure or some other impulse? I ask because our region watched a church die because they couldn’t let a school go, and here at Central we had a co-op nursery school which simply out-lived it’s effectiveness (people around us needed all day care, and we couldn’t provide it).

    • I think it’s partially the finances, but also because of the church’s population: it’s made up of more blue-hairs than anything, so of course to them, it’s far more important for a church to have a nice fellowship hall for funeral lunches than a school. Seriously, that’s the state of the current building project. The school is in desperate need for a new gym, making the old gym a wealth of potential space for things like, oh, A FELLOWSHIP HALL. But the church wants something that won’t even attach to the school. The school’s next door, and they won’t have the building connect. It’s such a mess.
      But I do see your point that you don’t want one to be the millstone for the other and drown both. In this case, though, one’s the lifesaver for the other, but the other refuses to hold on.

    • Yah, when people get involved things get messy. And sometimes we shove away the very thing which can help us.

    • Cliche’ as this sounds:
      Amen to that, Brother.

    • No, LOVING people when things get messy is the trick. It helps to remember they’ve got to do the same for us.

    • That’s a huge challenge for me, but yes, you’re right–that’s a must.

    • That was also supposed to begin with “NOW”

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