Belonging as you really are.
Where do you really belong? No I mean really. Where do you and I really belong? Is it in a family, or a group of friends, the place where I work, or go to school or church or where? I've lost count of all the times I desperately wanted to belong and feel like I had a place only to discover that I didn't or couldn't. I thought I did, and then I didn't. Maybe I performed too poorly or succeeded too well. Perhaps I just didn't fit, like a piece of a puzzle from a different puzzle box. Yet there were times when I really did belong, really belong, until the season changed, and I didn't anymore. Gone in a moment. The truth is, belonging isn’t really about fitting in or being recognized or even just being accepted because those things come and go and fade so quickly. In spite of how much emphasis I often put on what others think or say, no one else's opinion can really create a place where I can abide. It's a much deeper and more illusive commodity than that. The word “belonging” actually says everything about itself. The “longing to be". The longing to have a place where I can authentically be myself and be known and accepted as I am. Or more than that, to be truly loved for who I am and the way I am. That's a very tall order indeed when my disposition can swing around so wildly. Most people don't really know me anyway, so how can I really believe that they love or accept me? Some people think they know me and decide they like what they think is there or not. In the past I've created an image of what I think others will find acceptable, even though it has almost nothing to do with who I really am. That never ends very well. In reality all my efforts to create a place for myself in the end always fall short because belonging isn't something that I can really create for myself since it never originated with me in the first place. It's something that is only created for me by God himself alone. Every other place you and I occupy in life and in the spirit really flow out of one single unchangeable orientation. The truth is there is only one place that stands alone and apart, preeminent from every other place where we reside. It is completely unique and beautiful because I did not and could not create it, and I cannot change it with my performance or behavior. I can't make it more than what it is or cause it to be diminished in any way. My best, most grandiose achievement does not touch it and my darkest, grittiest failure can't make a dent. It was established on that crisp clear day when God brushed the star dust from my eyes and welcomed me into creation. That wild and unruly and remarkable place is the place you and I have with God. Forged by him in the fire of his great love, it is as wide as the breadth of all our days and as long as the end of all time. There's a lot of room there.
Scripture to consider - Romans 14:8 - "If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord."
How have you settled for just fitting in when belonging is what you desperately desire?
Where are the places you authentically feel like you belong?
What does belonging really mean to you?
Where are the places you longed to belong but never really felt like you could?
How have you refused the opportunity to authentically belong because of your own fears or wounded-ness?
How can you personally become a safe place for others to belong?
What are some practical ways for you to be more inclusive with others?
How will you invite God to guide you in this endeavor of belonging?
“I sent the club a wire stating, PLEASE ACCEPT MY RESIGNATION. I DON'T WANT TO BELONG TO ANY CLUB THAT WILL ACCEPT ME AS A MEMBER.”
― Groucho Marx
“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”
If we have no peace, it's because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
“You belong where you're loved.”
― Cassandra Clare
“Although I am a typical loner in my daily life, my awareness of belonging to the invisible community of those who strive for truth, beauty, and justice has prevented me from feelings of isolation.”
― Albert Einstein
A simple prayer for Belonging:
Father I confess that I long for a place to authentically belong. I thank you that I have that place in you because I completely belong to you in every way. Teach me to more fully occupy this place with you so that I can rest from the need to create a place for myself. Help me to be a dazzling display for those around me so that no matter who they are or what they believe or where they come from, they will know that with you they belong.