Everyone feels like an outsider at some point. I learned that in my teens when I felt like a geek, uncomfortable in my own skin. The isolation, being 6’8″, there had to be something wrong with me and I thought I was the only one. Then I talked to the Prom Queen, the Football Star and the Straight “A” Student and they were all crushed under the feeling that there was something seriously wrong with them… to a point that one of them was contemplating suicide.
Show me someone who has it all together and I’ll show you someone I’m generally not interested in. It’s not that people who have it together have it easy, it’s that I don’t have anything to offer them. They don’t need me and my fragile, traditional male ego needs to be needed or I will shrivel up and die.
So I’m at Comicon and I have normal-people fans, and then I have my favorite fans: they drive up in wheelchairs and can barely talk through drool, pour out every plot point of my books in a row to a point that I can tell the fan is sporting either Aspergers, Autism or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I love my slow readers, sweaty fat kids and the socially crippled to a point that they can’t finish a sentence. I love-love-LOVE them! Why?
When I was in 7th grade I read the entire book of Luke in a teen Bible study. It’s one thing to feel like a freak among normal kids at school, but I even felt like an outsider in my own church youth group. That’s being an outsider among the outsiders. It struck me that I would always feel a little off, and it wasn’t really the rest of the world’s fault. It was me. But I read the book of Luke and chapter 14, verse 12-14 stuck in my head, hopefully forever:
“12 And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. 13 But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
These few verses are so wise about human nature because they reveal that our generosity is often rooted in selfishness. I get a lot from my friends and family, so I’m paid in full by what I get from them, but Jesus has a higher way, to enjoy the company of social outcasts because they can’t repay you in the way that your family can. Loving social outcasts isn’t just to get a reward in heaven, because even that would be selfish, but it’s implied that the outcast is so important to God that he is willing to pay us to treat them with dignity.
I found a special home in the religion of my church because I wanted to belong to a God who sought the crippled, the lame, the blind, if for no other reason than they were in a low position according to society. So when I get to go to dinner with my best friend’s autistic kid, I’m the lucky one. When I would rather be with the autistic kid than the non-autistic kid, I feel some bad form of myself being transformed into something more like Jesus Christ. My favorite fans are being used to turn me into something better, and I have nothing but gratitude for those miraculous fans.