A few months ago, I decided to take a break from YOB. Some may have noticed, some may have not. It wasn’t a decision lightly made, but it was one that had to be done.

I am not a blogger. Never claimed to be. Never really wanted to be. I used to hate writing, and I’m still not sure I love it all the time.

When YOB was being birthed though, I jumped in. I wanted to give my part. I figured I could add my unique insights every so often. Two months in, I realized my thoughts were being published often. And what ensued was my normal self-motivated work process: do more than what is being expected.

I began writing more often to keep up with being published each week. It was pretty cool at first. But then I realized something:

I didn’t belong here.

An odd realization to make. YOB is for the outcast. It’s a place for those who feel they don’t belong. It’s a community for the outcasts, the ones who have been pushed outside the safety of their groups.

YOB is for those walking the “road less traveled,” to be trite.

And yet I couldn’t help feel this gap widening between myself and the rest of my brothers. And this tension was amplified with each blog posted. As I read their thoughts and stories, I couldn’t help but feel more and more separated.

I am in such a unique position among my other brothers. I am married (and yes, two other brothers join me in that category). I also have a child (just one other brother joins me in fatherhood).

I also work in full-time ministry.

Ah, that detail. That’s a new one.

I work full-time at a church, overseeing the children’s ministry. I’ve spared that detail till now.

Husband, father, and minister — I am my own little category amongst this community. And as YOB has progressed, I have felt that divide grow between myself and these other brothers.

As one brother put it, we are truly a minority within a minority. Imagine being a minority within that inner minority. Truthfully, there is hardly anyone else like me, the strange outcast that I am.

Honestly, it gets lonely being me. And I hate it.

Post after post of stories that attract people within the same little groups — and I am off on the side still waiting for someone to join me on my bench.

After months of enduring this, I simply couldn’t bear the weight anymore. I voluntarily removed myself from any future postings, put some separation between myself and most of my other brothers, and took the time to work through these feelings.

I wish I could say that this is my big return post. But it’s not. Simply an explanation for those who have noticed and wondered.

Perhaps this will anger you. Or confuse you.

But maybe someone could even be encouraged — that even amongst YOB, there are still those who struggle.

This is not a perfect community — it’s one that strives to live as the body of Christ but still doesn’t succeed 100% of the time.

I hope to return with more posts soon. But until then, I’ll be chilling by myself — an outcast among outcasts.

Do you ever feel like an outcast among the outcasts? What are some ways you belong, and what are other ways you don’t?

* Photo courtesy of Andrei Niemimäki, Creative Commons.

About the Author

  • Hey Dean,
    Sorry to hear. I don’t ever comment, but I’ve enjoyed reading you (and the other guys.) I’m sure there’s plenty of lurkers like me that agree.
    My own feelings of “other than” come and go. Sometimes I feel like I fit in, sometimes I don’t at all. Kinda depends on the weather, it seems. I know I’m prone to come up with just plain stupid categories in my head, as if I’m *trying* to make myself feel more “other.” (Like: “I really don’t belong as a commenter on YOB. I’m too blunt and will probably just sound like an ass.”) Or, totally inconsequential things will provoke those feelings. Like sometimes when I’m running the worship slides up in the balcony at church, I picture myself as Quasimodo from the Hunchback of Notre Dame looking down on all the “normal” people from the bell tower. Thinking about how I’ll never be one of them, wishing that I could for just a day. It’s really dumb when I stop and think about it… but I usually don’t stop and think about it much until I’ve let the thought fester for a while, and by that point it’s too late.

    • Thank you for sharing, Alyosha! I am so glad you commented. Your thoughts are always welcome and your words here were appreciated and valued. I know what you mean about feeling that separation while serving in church. I pray you find community within your ministry team.

  • Yeah, you’re in a different position from most of us. But I think the same thing could be said about each of us Brothers. I’m the only one in Japan, the only YOB author who isn’t in North America. There’s only one Navajo. There are only two black guys. One guy over the age of 40. Only one author is still in college. I think you get the idea. We’re all vastly different in a lot of ways, with very different backgrounds and present circumstances in life. I don’t see the problem here. If you want to take a break from writing for a while (I’ve noticed the slump in your output), that’s fine, but please understand that your difference doesn’t set you apart from us unless you let it. We love you, Dean. Come back whenever you’re ready.

    • I appreciate your thoughts, Kevin. I always enjoy your feedback! Thank you for showing me grace during this time.

  • If anything, separating will only make that gap more real – I feel ya. For starters I’m a woman who on a blog called your other “brothers” even though there are basically no other women to interact with, but I love people’s stories and this is the only blog I’ve ever found like this. I am also married but felt encouraged when I saw that at least a tiny few of you were also married. I’m not strictly SSA, but more towards bisexual and somebody made a post about that. Up until like 2 months ago I was a full time missionary in South America so I get the ministry aspect.
    This place is about support. It’s about resonating. It’s about finding that even if it’s only a few there are more people like you. I’m glad that there is someone like me here and you happen to be one of those people. So, I guess I’m just saying that even if you do drift away from us a little, just don’t be a stranger I guess.

    • I appreciate the encouragement, Ashley. I’ve often wondered about our sisters out there and how we can include them in our community. Thank you for jumping in and for the perspective you offer!

      • Thank you for commenting, Ashley. I wondered if there were other ladies out here who were reading and identifying either with the brothers or perhaps with their spouses. I am married to a man who, like you Dean, is husband, father, minister. I came upon YOB at its beginning, and although I don’t share the SSA struggle, I am married to one who does, so your stories have intrigued me. It encourages me that we are not the only couple who live out our marriage and our faith with this struggle. My husband and I have begun hosting a group for those in our local LGBTQ community who are interested in being part of the faith community, but have up until now, felt unwelcome and unsafe. We heard the Lord say “worship together” and so we are providing a safe place for them to encounter the Lover of their souls. There are some who travel as much as 2-1/2 hours to attend. It has begun to get messy, which hasn’t surprised us at all, and we know that we will make mistakes, but these precious people know that we love them and that we are here to journey with them. More importantly, they are being taught and shown that God truly loves them and wants a relationship with each of them.
        God bless you, Dean, and please don’t hesitate to share your story. You have no idea who it may impact!

        • I greatly admire your courage and willingness to endure what is “messy” for the sake of the gospel. My wife and I will be praying about this. Contact me if you need to share any specifics.

          • Thank you for your prayers! We want and need them greatly! I recently told my hubby, “Things are getting interestinger and interestinger!” 🙂

        • Thank you so much, Terri. It is absolutely incredible to hear your story and to hear about the ministry you and your husband have now. Thank you so much for sharing!!!

  • I really resonate with what you wrote Dean. I’ve felt that way a lot in my life. I’ve wondered many times why God didn’t make me a woman. I feel like I would have made a great one! As a child, I loved putting on my mom’s high heels and made a long hair wig out of my blanket. I don’t really care much for “rough and tumble” things that other men like to do. I LOVED playing bridge with my mom’s friends when I was a teen. Looking at one of her friend’s flower garden was especially fun as well as the tea and snacks. I was enthralled with makeup, etc. I guess that explains a significant part of my ssa. But, it’s also made me feel so isolated and alone. And ever since my wife left, I’ve struggled so much with my identity and loneliness. She used to tell me why I couldn’t be like other men we knew. I would have LOVED to be them. They embodied all the masculine things that I feel like I don’t have. And even on this blog I’m a LOT older than all of you guys. But, as others have written, so many feel the same way.

  • Hey Dean, I think you’ve been one of the best writers on the site! I know the feeling of lonliness and being an outcast, but maybe you should lookl at all that you have in common with your other brothers rather than what’s different. Because I think a lot of your writings really ring true with what a majority of the articles on this site are about.

    • Thank you for our kind words, Brian. I like your point about focusing on what I have in common as opposed to how I am different. Could be a good shift of perspective.

  • Hey Dean! I am not angered or confused by what you wrote. I feel the same. I often feel like an outcast here, always feel like an outcast at church or in my extended family, and generally feel like an outcast wherever I am apart from my wife’s arms. I hate the loneliness too. I was part of another online group like this, but I don’t believe it was nearly as healthy. I left after a year of solid effort, unable to overcome the feelings of being an untouchable.
    One way I am trying to overcome that is by attempting in my weak and imperfect ways of reaching out to others who are in the same position. Yesterday at church my wife spoke with a mother and daughter who are being crushed by their absence of belonging. They have done all the right things. They have participated in small groups. They have taken their concerns to leadership. They have prayed at length for God’s grace to cover the situation. Still their many attempts at connection have been ignored. Recently they lost their father and grandfather. They were very close, and the separation has been extremely painful. Again they have tried to share their pain with their support groups and have been met with disinterest. My wife and I know that they are not exaggerating the problem. They are not whiners, and they are not trouble makers. Our church has a serious problem with cliquishness. My wife was struggling with anger after praying for the mother and daughter. She has felt the very same pain at our “home” and “refuge” So we talked about inviting the family over for dinner and an evening of celebrating their father/grandfather’s life. I don’t relish the idea of spending an evening with a man who seems very different from me, but I can get excited about working with God to create community where there is none.
    There is much that I can not do about my feelings of being an outcast here. I can be honest about the negative traits I have that do obstruct intimacy and companionship. I can remain open to the Spirit’s work there. And I can certainly struggle to maintain a profound sense of appreciation for community, however imperfect. My feelings have a habit of distracting me from all the good that God has set before me. I can not let them do that here.

    • Thank you for sharing, MI. I pray you continue to overcome this struggle in the future months! Keep striving!

  • Hey Dean- I completely understand your decision. I hope you can get the time you need to work on things with Jesus, away from all the distractions. Question- will you still respond if I post comments on your previous blog posts or are you going to be completely silent until you return?

    • Thank you, Melancollie. To answer your question, I will read comments on my other posts but I may not always answer. I will do my best though to answer any questions you post. I pray you continue to jump in and read more of our community’s stories!

  • Hi Dean, I just want you to know- As a married man, struggling with SSA, I really identify with your posts, and they have encouraged me these last couple of weeks.
    I can understand the lonely. Everyone makes assumptions, there is no outlet for the guy needs, life on the outside doesn’t match the inside, having to provide for everyone. And life is hard. And the struggles are all on our shoulders. That is my struggle. It sounds like your struggle too. And I can imagine the weight of ministry, on top of all that- not able to share, because you’re supposed to be the one with the answers, or because people misunderstand, or being honest may even risk your job, and your family’s livelihood.
    You’re not alone, brother. There are others like you. And Jesus understands you too- he knows your struggle completely, and accepts you. Jesus reached for the outcasts, the lonely, the rejected. He came for the sick, the poor. He’s been teaching me lately to plunge my fears, into his grace. My failures, into his grace. And that grace drives out fear.
    If there’s any encouragement, brother, there is encouragement in Jesus, and in knowing that we are right here beside you.
    Also Philippians 2:1-2 came to mind for you:
    If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
    Blessings, brother.

    • Thank you, Josh, for your incredible thoughts! They help immensely! Appreciate your presence here, brother.

  • Everyone’s situation is unique in some way. That is why there is value in having multiple bloggers on this site. I understand needing a break, but I hope that you choose to stick around because I find a great deal of value in your contributions and I am sure that countless others do too. I too am a married man. I am not a paid minister, but I am a Christian. All Christians are (or should be) in ministry. Some may not earn a living from ministry, but I think that we can all relate to your situation to a certain degree.

  • Thank you, John- was sad I didn’t get to meet you either. Hopefully another time soon. 🙂 appreciate your encouragement!

  • Oh man, this post is so relevant for so many of us. Not sure if you intended or anticipated that when you wrote it, but so it is! I could go on and on about the ways I don’t fit into this community…
    In any case, I feel for you Dean. Sometimes it’s good in life to take a step back and recharge. You’ve already made an incredible impact on this community. Take your time coming back. We’re here for you when you choose to return. Love you brotha.

  • Dean! I’m not married, and I don’t have any kids, I am involved in some “ministries”, but not to the extent you are, I guess. Feel free to take the time you need to discern what is best for you. Maybe Satan is feeding some lies, or maybe the Spirit is prompting you in some area. Like, maybe you should write a post about the unique difficulties that challenge ssa people in ministry! Keep pressing on!
    Love C.

  • Dean,
    I am married too, with children. Also feel the burden of financially supporting everyone and caring for my wife’s emotional and medical needs. I appreciate all your writings – and never expected to find a Supernatural fan here. And yes I feel like an outcast of an outcast of an outcast! As Jimi Hendrix sang 50 years ago
    “Loneliness is such a draggggg….”
    I hope you continue writing and would love to meet you in person one day!

  • What’s interesting to me is how on the internet I’ve found communities like YOB—but basically everyone is quite a bit older than me, at least 5 or 10 years, it seems. Maybe it’s the nerd in me that’s turned to the internet sooner than most in search of connection and vulnerability. I’ve appreciated your posts, Dean, but if you need some time off, I totally get that. Take care!

  • Yes, I saw the video of him speaking at the Hope March. He is a gifted speaker. My wife and I will keep praying. We prayed through Psalm 68 this morning for your group. But God was also directing us to pray about the parable of the sower.

  • Dear Dean,
    I read your post days ago. I really didn’t know how to respond. There are the things that we all share like our humanity and for those of us who are Christians–our connection in the body of Christ. There are things that some of us share in common–like our SSA. There are things that few of us share–being married, being a father and being in full-time ministry along with having SSA. I am one of those. Yeah, I feel like I am in a minority of the minority too. And it’s OK. I like what makes me unique as well as what binds us together. Just want you to know that you are valued in this community of YOB both for your similarities and your differences. It is often those differences that help cast the light of Christ on something important. Even if you only speak to one or two of the readers at YOB (the minority of the minority), that may be the very thing that Christ has called you to do. So, when you are ready or when God gives you something to say, we wait for you.

  • For what it’s worth, I’m also a husband and father, and in part-time ministry (bi-vocational). And I like Supernatural too. You’re not as alone as you may feel 🙂

  • Love you Dean! I totally get it too! I’m a black guy, struggling, married with 3 kids and in full time ministry as well. Yeah. The divide lessens for you bro. So enjoy your writings. Looks forward to more when you are ready. Until then, slide over on that bench and make room for me!

  • Hey Dean, a month or two ago you posted a pic of the guys from Supernatural. What was awesome about the pic was it captured something of true friendship that was powerful and innocent, I mean, it had nothing to do with sex. And it was more than just this beautiful true thing that I appreciated, I had this crazy longing to be a part of it, to be on the inside, to be a partaker rather than just seeing it.
    However many weeks ago when the original guys here got together for the retreat I was really happy for them when I heard about it. To be guys with SSA having true fellowship together is beautiful. And I had the same longing to be a part of it that I had looking at the pic, and the same disconnect of being the outsider. It was just selfishness on my part, I had no right to intrude on either one. Even so, knowing it was possible made it seem that much farther away, if that makes sense.
    But you know what, for all the limits of an online community like this and my longing for so much more and the often lonely road each of us face, if I can walk it with others who continue to struggle with SSA and whose hearts are set on following Jesus, I consider myself a blessed guy for knowing y’all. That includes you too brother, especially you. The guys here that have made it further along are a huge encouragement to me, Tom and Marshall and Kevin and others, they point to Jesus and the way forward. But I love sharing the road with those who live with the longing, guys like you Dean.

  • I have read every one of your posts Dean and I both respect and envy you. I love your honesty and wish I were married, and now knowing you are a pastor, I’m saying I have always wanted that. Keep doing what you are led to do and don’t worry about us. It would be nice to hear from you periodically and let us know what has changed for you. You have made me like a friend now so I’ll be thinking of you.

  • Hello again, Dean,
    The peculiar thing for me, as a newbee within the YOB Community right now—being that the community itself is going on two years old—as I trace my way back through all of these older YOB blog postings, they are all “fresh and new” to me, as if they’d just been written.
    This one of yours was no different, and yet it was written just over a year ago. But it is very much like a current event to me, with reguard to my own personal community involvement here, never having read it until today.
    Since I found the YOB Community, and knowing you’ve engaged me a couple of times before with a reply to my different Disqus comments, it indicates to me that you’ve either worked through your intentional absence, or that you still participate from time to time.
    Either way, I’ve appreciated the interaction, Dean. And I’m thankful you were here!
    Do I ever feel like an outcast among the outcasts? And, what are some ways I belong, and what are other ways that I don’t?
    If I may, I will also answer these strictly with reguard to my YOB experience, thus far.
    You mentioned, Dean, how you didn’t particularly enjoy writing. Well, I have always enjoyed communicating in writing. I enjoy face-to-gace, one-on-one communication and interaction too. But in writing, it allows me that opportunity to choose my words much more intentionally and slowly, in order to truly have the opportunity to be better understood. So that is one aspect that allows me to feel like I belong here.
    The fact that I do relate so well with so many of the things expressed within the community, both in the blogs and in the comments from my other brothers who are responding to those blogs, also makes me feel like I belong.
    Quite honestly, Dean, I makes me want to also be invited to participate as a blog author, just as you have been. I feel like I’d also have a story or two to share, that might just benefit others.
    The ways I feel as though I don’t belong is because there’s been very little direct feedback or interaction to anything I’ve contributed so far. And, being an insecure person by nature, within all of my own mess, it causes me to have a lot of doubt about being an author as well… Am I saying something wrong… Am I way off base in the things that I’ve expressed… Am I being presumptuous in my own thoughts… Perhaps I’m reading into it or expecting too much… Do these guys even like me?
    I know it all sounds silly. But those are the things I’ve worried about in participating through reading and commenting, so far. I guess, in a lot of ways, I’m still trying to figure out my “nitch” here. I want to belong, but but I often question if I actually do.
    It kind of feels like arriving late to the party, after everyone else is already engaging with one another. So then it’s a little awkward trying to fit in.
    And like you, Dean, I’m different. I’m also older; also married; and I also have two daughters who are young adults now, themselves. So I’m not so sure I relate very well to the younger guys here at YOB, and vise-versa.
    So, thank you, Dean… Thank you for taking the time that you did to engage me back as you have. It meant a lot! And I truly do appreciate your postings, brother.
    Godspeed in all of your future posts to the community. I look forward to reading those, too!

    • Just to clarify, Dean, our archived posts don’t generally get much comment traction. It’s great that you’re reading/commenting back through all of them, but don’t take it personally if you don’t get a response. It’s because few people, if any, are going back to read these old posts/comments on a regular basis.

    • It’s great to know that my story in all its stages can bless you, fellow Dean. Thank you for working your way through all of the posts- there are quite a few!
      I am definitely in a much better place these days. God took me through a difficult time to grow me closer to Him and closer to my brothers on here.
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Glad to have you journeying with us!

  • Jumping back here from your new post today, what is/was it about that third qualifier of full-time ministry with children that made you feel so other? Was it the full-time aspect, the children aspect, or something else?

    • It was the ministry aspect. At the time of this posting, I was the only one of the authors to be employed at a church. That’s not the case now- but it was for awhile. Serving in ministry gives you a different perspective of the Church and faith. It’s as if I was walking the tension between the community I identified with (YOB) and the community that so often caused us pain (the Church). At times, I felt the need to empathize with both even when they were at odds, or especially when they were at odds. That can take a lot and I felt very alone in that. Thank you for jumping back and checking out an old post!

  • I definitely feel like an outcast among outcasts. For different reasons than you though. But I always feel like I dont belong. Everywhere. There’s some positive things about that though. Not belong anywhere broadens me. Cuz I can find parts of me that can find common ground with all kinds of different groups. Cuz not being stuck in one niche I’ve grown used to being around all kinds of different people having to find some commonality. And I’ve had to practice being comfortable and secure in God wherever. Easier said than done though. That doesn’t take the pain away from always feeling isolated. But I’ve come to just accept that how I am though. Its still nice to read an article like this and see its not just me that feels that way.

    • I think the greatest lie we could ever believe is that we are alone. I’m thankful this post could help you feel connected in some way. Continue to journey well!

      • Amen. I really think that the best part of feeling like an outcast is that its gone a long way in compelling me rely on God’s companionship. Thanks! You as well. God bless.

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