See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
-1 John 3:1
I spent the first 10 years of my life in Bryan, TX. I had lots of friends and was close (30-minute drive) to all my extended family. We lived on the same street, in the same house, with the same neighbors, and attended the same church all of those 10 years. The older couple across the street who were not actually related to anyone in my family were lovingly referred to as Nanny and Pappy.
I had zero familiarity with the phrase nor had I ever experienced “not fitting in.” While my immediate family life was tumultuous, I never had to wonder if I was liked, loved, or if I fit in.
Then came “the move.” Packed up everything (except my rock collection - still a little bitter about that) and moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico. No friends, no extended family, no church family, no familiar neighbors. The shock was almost too much for that 10-year-old extrovert.
I think that was when I learned the art and hard work of fitting in. So, I spent the next 40-45 years fine tuning those skills. I could write a book.
I have fortunately come to learn that it is not really the whole fitting in” thing that our hearts yearn for and we work so hard to acquire. It is belonging. We are all hard wired for connection and to live in a place and in a set of circumstances where we can know that we truly belong. Belonging is never overrated, it is crucial to a life that is whole and healthy. In her book; The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown writes; “A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all women, men, and children. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break, We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick....The absence of love and belonging will always lead to suffering.” “Given how difficult it is to cultivate self-acceptance in our perfectionist society and how our need for belonging is hardwired, it’s no wonder that we spend our lives trying to ﬁt it and gain approval.”
I was growing very weary of that effort. I’ve done a lot of reading, journaling, and praying and I am convinced that the thing we need to do to experience belonging is to show up. Simply show up and be who God made us to be. We will always, no matter what/when/where, belong to God and be considered precious and deeply loved. Out of that love, God will place people in our lives who love us for who we are and who also see us as precious and deeply loved.
When we show up, are true to who God made us to be, and create space for others to belong, we will find ourselves surrounded by people who are overjoyed to share life with us.