A Seat at the Table

It seems like we work and work to be a part of the insiders our whole lives. We want to be in on the inside jokes, and we want to have popular friends and be admired by others. So maybe you’re thinking, “No, I don’t.” Fair enough. I suppose I was projecting. Because much of my life, I have wanted to be an insider. I want to be cool, fun, funny, and one of the “it” crowd.

I wouldn’t say I’ve been remarkably successful. The more we want to be on the “in,” the more elusive that becomes. But what I’ve found is that there’s beauty on the outside.

I once found myself in a debate, fiercely defending the need for people to make a space for women at the table. My fellow debater countered by saying that those in power created the table, and we didn’t need a seat there, the table was broken, and we needed to go elsewhere. At the time, this seemed outrageous to me. Why would we not want a seat at the table?! Why would we not want to sit amongst those in power?

It makes more sense to me now.

The structures that oppress and create a table that includes some and excludes others, are not structures that deserve much of my time or energy. Instead, my focus ought to be away from the table. Who is not sitting at the table, and how can I find my place among them? Not, “How can I get them a chair to squeeze into the table?” They don’t need that. And you know what? Neither do I.

If you’re feeling like an outsider today, you are not alone. It’s exhausting fighting for a seat at the table. And while I’ve intellectually decided to stop fighting for a chair, my ego and the systems that have raised me still push me to want one. So today, I’m choosing to turn away from the table of power to face those on the outside. Some don’t have a seat. Some have rejected a seat outright. Either way, those are the people I want to be associated with.

In Community,
Pastor to the Neighborhood