As people we are made to belong. Each of us has a spot within us that gauges and must be filled with a clear sense of belonging – it is how we know we are loved, that we fit in, that we are welcome.
But many of us have not yet found our belonging. We don’t know that we belong.
For whatever reason the information about our belonging remains short-circuited in our experience and days. And as this happens we will find ourselves adrift in a sea of numerous ports of call and yet unable to sink our roots into any one place.
It is, quite frankly, the lie that the world would feed us, that we don’t belong, that we are odd, strange, ill-fitting, unwelcome. Until, we realize that everyone feels odd, strange, ill-fitting, and unwelcome.
For me, I felt that I didn’t belong right from the start. Even though I was smack-dab in the middle of ongoing and ever-present community and ministry and service and hospitality.
As I speak with others the same sorts of stories come forth. In the midst of so much life there is so much aloneness.
Living out of this lack of belonging, a hole within our beings if you will, we may turn to other things to fill our sense of self and to find a welcome.
Some run to service. Others to a job or a career. Many use family to fill their sense of belonging. There are those who will turn to anti-social behaviours, finding belonging in violence, drugs, alcohol, whatever might numb the need the belong while simultaneously filling it extemporaneously, without real thought or clear direction. Others fill the need to belong with religion of duty, sacrifice, penance, retribution, shame and condemnation. (All the same need, just different addictions to fill it.)
But here is the thing. Every time we look to service or job or family or anti-social behaviour to fill our sense of belonging, we elevate that thing as an idolatry, as something we trust over and above anything or anyone else.
And, it must be noted, that idols come crashing down.
Idols cannot contain the weight of your lost sense of belonging.
Put onto children the requirement for you to belong and they will rebel. A passive-aggressive stance against your neediness will set in.
Put onto a spouse or marriage your need to belong and it will crack under the pressure. The amount of falseness required to keep face and to make pretty, ensuring that all things cooperate with our perceived image of self, will fracture the relationship.
Put onto a career your deep need of belonging and you may get your career but you will most likely lose everything else along the way.
Your need to belong and my need to belong is too great a burden for any other human being to bear and it is unjust and ill-fitting for us to put this onto anyone. It simply won’t work. It will refuse the job. And things will begin to fall apart.
Exhaustion, hopelessness, despair, will begin to set in.
And for a time, as counter-attack against these things, effort will be doubled, focus will take on an obsessiveness, trying harder will be the mantra of the day. But when all these doubled efforts create only more trouble, more rebellion, more distance and fracture, we will come to the end of ourselves.
Are you there yet?
You need to be there.
For there is no sweeter place than the end of ourselves. For here, in our bankruptcy we stop trying so hard, we step (well, most likely stagger) back, and we begin to see and name the problem for what it is.
“I don’t belong.”
And from this place, we begin our belonging. From this place we begin honesty of living and we come into the fellowship of everyone else who can barely get it together. We begin to belong.
And we begin to make this right.
“God I confess today that I have been looking for belonging in all the wrong places. I have put onto my spouse, my children, my career, my home, my leisure, and my religion, all the weight of my emptiness. I have demanded that they do it just so, that they turn out just right, that they keep me looking good, that they validate my existence. I have turned them into idolatries. I am sorry.
I have been looking to spouse, to children, to career, to home, to leisure, to religion, to fill me, to make me whole, to give me my belonging. But I realize today God that only you can fill my sense of belonging. Only you can assure my soul and the core of who I am. Only in you can I know my worth. I belong to you God, and today, this is enough for me.
Today I declare in the name and the blood of my Lord Jesus Christ that I belong to God. That my value and my worth is not found in my home or family or marriage or career or leisure or even in my religion. I acknowledge that each of these things are not equipped to fill me to the level that I need. And so I release these things from the stranglehold I’ve had on them. Today I say ‘No more’ to home and family, marriage, career, leisure and even religion, as my focus. These things that take the place of you God and I am so sorry that I have demanded this of them.
Today I bring my need to belong to you Lord. I invite you to fill me with your presence, your love, your spirit, and with a deep knowing of your affirmation over my life and in all of who I am. Make known to me what all my searching and striving and agenda could never come to know. I am dependent Jesus on you to take my life and to fill my empty spaces. May I belong to you.”