My outsider experiences have only strengthened my confidence in God’s goodness and sovereignty.
Four years ago, I embarked on a master’s program at a theologically conservative seminary. As a Black, politically liberal woman, I stood out from most of my classmates.
I’m toward the lower end of the income scale compared to most of my peers. I’m also in my late 30s and happily unmarried, while my friends have nearly all coupled off. Three years ago, I began suffering from as-yet-undiagnosed health problems. To top it all off, I run in nerd circles, but I’ve never seen any of the Star Wars, Star Trek, or Harry Potter movies, and I’ve never heard the Hamilton soundtrack.
Sometimes being an outsider has been beyond my control. Sometimes it was a consequence of my choice to pursue certain interests or communities. Other times I sought it out, as with my choices of universities, churches, and living abroad.
No matter how being an outsider has come about for me, I’ve always learned from it. Over time, I moved from insecurity about my difference to neutrality to recognizing the value in it and letting it better me. It has taught me about the bigness of God, his closeness, his power, and his person- and circumstance-specific care.
During a trying season of life, I wrote to a friend, “Are all stations and circumstances that illuminate the true nature of grace a gift? Since Paul boasts in his weakness and hardships because they facilitate his most powerful encounters with grace (2 Cor. 12:8–10), then are all things gifts that bring to rest on us Christ’s power?”
It was my very differences that convinced me of God’s sovereignty over things like the time and place in which I lived and the family into which I was born. The realization that God was …