Can you belong too much? In the past I would bounce around from one friend group to another trying to spend time with everyone. From one hobby or sport to another. I didn’t bounce around because I felt like I didn’t fit in though; I did it because I felt like I belonged with all these things and these people. My husband can attest to my willingness to get involved with many things at once, saying yes when everyone around me thinks I should be saying NO! I used to think this was because I was looking for that ‘it’ thing for me. The one thing I could do better than any other. It would stand out for me, marking my rise to the top, and then I would find it. That thing to claim as my own.
I don’t have this issue only with people, activities and groups either. I feel like I belong in places as well. How can I feel at peace and secure in so many places? Isn’t that weird? I feel a sense of belonging when I am at home in the house I own and share with my husband, children and small zoo. Yet, I feel that same sense when I am at my parents’ house. Both houses feel the same to me. I know I belong in both places. I’ve often yearned for a place where I would feel complete. A physical place I could be in and be wholly me. I thought that it would feel different, somehow set apart from how I felt at other places. If I felt like I belonged at a multitude of different places, surely, I hadn’t found the one place I was supposed to be? The placed I belonged over all others.
When I sit on the beach I feel like this has to be where I belong. Then I go to the mountains and that same feeling stirs inside me–the feeling of belonging. I sat on a dirt floor in India thousands of miles from home, surrounded by people I didn’t know, speaking a language I couldn’t understand and I felt altogether like I belonged there. I didn’t want to leave that place that felt like home and hope and God. I sat on the floor in a local Islamic Community Center, the women separated by a divider from the men as we broke the fast during Ramadan, and I didn’t feel out of place. I was flooded with belonging and peace.
I had the pleasure to stay in Chicago at Jesus People USA. It was a short stay and somewhere I had never been but before I left for my trip my mother joked with me that I should remember to come home. She knew that when I got into that amazing community they have built there, I would feel like I fit. I would feel that sense of belonging and want to stay.
I never feel like I belong anywhere more than when I am at my place of calm, of peace and in the presence of God. When I walk into the Monastery of the Holy Spirit I feel secure in the fact that I belong there. Most find this odd because I am not Catholic! I’m not a monk or even Lutheran. My Baptist self finds security during 4am vespers in the dark sanctuary sitting on hard wooden benches bathed in the soft glow from the stained-glass windows.
Before my walk with Christ started I felt constantly out of place. I didn’t know why. I felt like I belonged places but I couldn’t make sense of it, so it felt awkward to me. Now I know why. Even when I wasn’t walking with Christ he was walking with me. When I felt awkward he was pushing on me to feel him. To know that I belong with him. When I walk with him I belong everywhere.
When we lack a sense of belonging it affects our idea of self-worth and limits us from being all God wants us to be. There seems to be a connection between our belonging and acceptance. If we don’t feel we belong then we feel dejected and begin to fall into a cycle of pity and abandonment. Sometimes we can’t have a physical place to belong to, or something happens and that place of physical belonging becomes a bad place. If we remember Romans 14:8 and know that we belong to the lord we can find our place anywhere. As long as we have God with us–we belong.
“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.” – Romans 14:8
For me, I have found the key to belonging. So, when I encounter a new place or a new group of people and I am overwhelmed with a sense of belonging, I understand it now. I let it happen, I fall in love with the place and though I can’t stay everywhere I know I belong everywhere. I know this because as long as Christ is there with me I belong.
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