When I was considering Disney heroines for our theme this month, I almost skipped Esmeralda. Her story feels too close to my story. Her feelings are too similar to my feelings. The rejection she experiences stirs up memories. Her connection with a church that is not a representative of Christ’s love is painful.
But I did choose her. Largely because her song, “God Help The Outcasts” takes me right back to my freshman year of college. “El Shaddai” (meaning God Almighty) recorded by Amy Grant was on a cassette tape I listened to in my walkman as I walked between classes on campus. Amy sings a line in that song that says, “To the outcast on her knees you were the God who really sees.” Every time she sang that line, I would feel hopeful that a day would come when I would feel like something more than an outcast.
We’ve all experienced things that made us feel like an outsider. It happened to me growing up every time I moved to new communities, schools, and churches. It happened to me as I got older when I started new jobs. It still happens to me when I am around a peer group that has closer relationships with each other than they do to me.
But I don’t think I will ever experience the feeling of being an outcast more than I did my senior year of high school. When you are sixteen years old, and everyone suspects you are having a romantic relationship with a teacher, the isolation is real. You don’t forget the feeling of a room that gets quiet when you walk in or of people avoiding eye contact with you as you walk through the hallways.
Even though these songs that speak about outcasts hit on something deep in my soul, I still listen to them. Because now, in addition to the memories they connect me to, they also connect me to victory. I have learned something that cannot be removed nor shaken. I have learned that God Himself accepts me. God Himself adopts me. I am His child. I belong to Him. He lives in me. And His presence is incorruptible and unchanging. So I am not an outcast. I never was. I never am. I never will be.
Standing firm on that understanding took a long time for me. It was a difficult process with a lot of steps forward and steps backward. But I am grateful for the journey. I still have much to learn. I still have days when I don’t feel quite as confident. But I know the One who holds me. And I love Esmeralda’s question when she says to God, “I see Your face and wonder, were You once an outcast, too?”
It gives me great comfort and encouragement to believe that there’s nothing I have experienced that Jesus doesn’t understand. His church rejected Him. His friends abandoned Him. He died in humiliation. But that was not the end of His life story. Which means rejection did not have to be the end of my story. And if you happen to be experiencing that kind of pain, it’s not the end of yours, either.
God help the outcasts. Thank you, Esmeralda.