I think I was three when it started – the life of an outsider, a reject, a person who is never going to be part of the gang. And with it came the longing, the despair sometimes, the selling myself out in an attempt to somehow fit in. And at other times the pretending to myself that I didn’t really care, when in reality, deep down, it hurt. Sticks and stones may hurt my bones but words – oh, they penetrate much deeper. And the desire to be accepted, to be loved, to be included and wanted and invited – you only realise how much you want it when you go without.
As a three-year-old girl I was sent by my mum one afternoon to go up the road and play with the other neighbourhood kids, only to be told to go away because “we don’t play with babies”. I guess they were four or five :)
As a child at school from the age of eight, I got mocked for wearing glasses. And then there was stuff like dandruff, and being good at maths, and not having cool jeans with the right label. My family wasn’t seriously poor but we lived in a wealthy neighbourhood so compared to the others we were poor – which apparently isn’t cool. My parents were much older, and my mother didn’t dye her hair so she got mistaken for my granny – again, not cool.
The one person whose love I was absolutely sure of was my brother, ten years older and kind of half father figure – and then, when I was fifteen, he suddenly left the country.
It’s not really surprising that after that, I was willing to do pretty much anything to belong, to be accepted, to feel I was part of the gang. There were people who gave me that, and it’s only decades later that I realised what price I’d paid, and got the therapy I needed to get over it.
And now? As a woman in her fifties, who has never ever really fitted in and knows that she never will because she just isn’t all that normal and doesn’t even know how to pretend to be… I’m fine with that now, and no, it’s not because the desire to belong has magically disappeared, it’s not because I’ve turned into some kind of self-sufficient creature who doesn’t need love and acceptance – no, I’m still totally human, I’m just part of the gang now, the best gang, the top gang, the most awesome and wonderful family ever. And I know that unlike others – unlike humans, who do eventually let you down – the family I now belong to is one that will never ever give up on me, no matter what I do.
I’m talking about God.
Someone recently commented on one of my blog posts where I talked about my Christian faith, and said they hoped that I belonged to a non-trinitarian church.
I’m so mind boggled by this I really totally can’t even. Why on earth would I want that? Why trade the wonderful loving unity that is Elohim, the God of the Bible, for some distant single being, some solitary entity that sits up there in the sky and doesn’t feel what we feel, doesn’t exist in constant relationship – not to mention that he doesn’t really exist anyway, and I’m not interested in some mythical human invention, I’m interested in the real God who really made this world and really reached out to mankind in love because love is the essence of his being, because God, Elohim, has always been a loving unity, a relationship between three persons. It’s this trinitarian God who has invited me in, adopted me and made me part of the family – a family that already was a family, already existed and interacted and loved from before the world began.
I keep mentioning Elohim, the Hebrew word translated into English as God, because as a Hebrew speaker I’m conscious that it’s a plural noun. This is how the Bible introduces God right from the very first verse: in the beginning Elohim created the world. And a bit further into the creation account we get to where Elohim says: let us make man in our image. Using plural pronouns. (Which isn’t the norm in the Bible on the whole. Usually when God speaks he uses singular pronouns like I and me. So it’s not like “the royal we” – it’s an actual conversation that’s going on there, a conversation amongst the trinity: hey, let’s do this thing… like a kind of team meeting.)
Oh, I hear some of you say, but the Bible says God is one…
Yes, it does. And again, since I’m a Hebrew speaker I know that the word used in that verse is Echad, which is “one” in the sense of unity. If the author had meant to indicate a single entity, he could have used the word “yachid”. He didn’t. Which isn’t surprising to me as I know the author of the Bible is the Holy Spirit, who is hardly going to tell us that Elohim isn’t three persons when he’s one of them. No, that verse is about the unity of the three persons who make up the whole of Elohim.
There’s plenty else in the Bible to show that God is more than one person. One of my favourite bits is in Exodus 33, where we’re told that God spoke with Moses face to face, only to be told a bit further on that God told Moses: you can’t see my face and live. Hmmm…
So no, I’m not part of a non-trinitarian church and I seriously wouldn’t see any point in that. I’m part of a church that worships the God of the Bible, the God who is and always has been three persons in loving unity, and who has in his awesome grace and mercy invited me in!
And his love endures forever.
If you’re reading this and thinking: I want this too – the good news is that through faith in Jesus anyone can come in!