It’s not a word I use every day but I do reflect on my life ever day. In particular I spend a fair amount of time amazed at God’s continual effort to not let me go. In spite of personal failure, public disappointment and a complete change in about every area of my life, God still persists. He loves. He pursues. He opens doors of opportunity and He closes doors that would be hurtful instead of helpful. He leaves me feeling daily that for some reason my life matters to Him.
As I reflect on my life and the pathway I am now on I also spend time thinking about the circumstances that led up to me being who I am today. There is a word that keeps working in my mind and heart. The word is marginalized.
Marginalization can happen in almost every relationship we experience in our lives on this planet. The word marginalize means to treat a person or group as insignificant. It is to devalue, estrange, cut off, shut out, and alienate.
When a person feels marginalized they can come to believe they are worthless and have very little value. Parents, spouses, children, employees, siblings, bosses, teachers, and others have the power to marginalize another person. In the church context, denominational leaders, other pastors, church bosses, staff members and church members can demoralize a person by marginalizing their leadership.
It’s not a good feeling to be marginalized. In fact, you may come to believe things about yourself that are not even true but in your mind they are true because you have come to believe them based on the behavior of someone else. Sometimes marginalization can even evolve into emotional abuse.
One source lists the signs of emotional abuse in the following manner:
- Humiliating or Embarrassing
- Constant put-downs
- Refusing to communicate
- Ignoring or excluding you
- Use of sarcasm and unpleasant tone of voice
- Unreasonable jealousy.
- Extreme moodiness
- Mean jokes or constantly making fun of you
- Saying “I love you but…”
- Saying things like “If you don’t _____, I will_____”
- Domination and control
- Withdraw of affection
- Guilt trips
- Making everything your fault
- Isolating you from friends and family
- Using money to control you
These and many more behaviors like them may cause you to doubt yourself or begin believing that you have no worth to those around you. Sometimes you may “pile on” with your own self-doubt and low self-esteem.
My heart breaks for my brokenness through the years. Broken people are most likely going to hurt others around them. The good news is that God heals the broken. He saves but He also heals our emotional and mental hurts. He can make up the difference when people are lacking in their support or response to you. He will bind up the broken-hearted. When Isaiah said that the Messiah would bear the chastisement of our peace or that it would be upon Him, he was reflecting on our deep need to have our lives filled with God’s peace. Jesus didn’t need peace, He is the Prince of Peace but He extends peace into our troubled hearts and lives. Soon we will enter the Easter season and we will remember the life, death and resurrection of the Christ. Resurrection brings new life. Jesus never marginalized anyone. He extended peace and forgiveness to those crucifying Him. He extended peace and love to the thief on the cross beside Him. Remember Jesus went looking for His former disciple Peter that had failed miserably during the trial of Jesus. He went to bring Him back into the fold and to extend mercy and grace to him as well as opportunity. To Mary in the garden, He brought peace to her troubled heart and spirit. To the men on the way to Emmaus He extended peace and grace.
Just prior to being taken by the Roman Soldiers Jesus was teaching His disciple the last things that He really wanted them to remember going forward and in a wrap up before being taken away He offered these amazing words and He offers them to you and I today:
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. 28 Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. John 14:27-28 NLT
He is our hope. When others may not believe in you or extend grace to you or even extend peace toward you, Jesus does. You are not marginal. You are loved and cared for by the Son of God. He knows where you are and where you are going and He will go with you. Even if you fall or fail, do so with your eyes on Him. He will help you up and help you move away from your failures and He will plant your feet back on solid ground.
I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I’m onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”
Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on Heaven’s tableland,
A higher plane than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where those abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.
He will lift you. He will hold you. You are loved.