Belonging from Within

Were you able to ponder your own sense of belonging yesterday? If someone were to ask you to describe yourself, what group or groups would you link yourself with? Your hometown, your political party, your employer, your school, your church, your club or hobby group?

In what ways do these groups evoke a sense of belonging for you? Is it because you agree with their ideologies? Is it because you feel loved and accepted by them, you feel safe with them? Is it because they provide you with a sense of power or prestige? Is it because they empower you to be who you are and at the same time continue to grow mentally, emotionally, intellectually, and/or spiritually? Is it because they enable you to remain in your comfort zone letting others decide what you should think or believe?

Growing up, I found my sense of belonging in the church my family attended. As a child, I loved going to Sunday School and vacation Bible school and in my teens I let the youth group and leaders shape my world. The church denomination I grew up in is not the denomination through which I express and live out my faith today. It’s a long story which I won’t get into here but the elevator version is that as a young adult I felt a real dissonance between who I was at the core of my being and who this church allowed me to be. It was a crisis that took me years to work through because I was not taught to evaluate why I belonged, I was just told I needed to.

Mine isn’t an unusual or unique story. Most folks by the time they reach middle age have had at least one similar destruction of their sense of belonging.

Peter’s sense of belonging was shaken when Jesus talked about his own death.

When we discover our sense of belonging from the image of God within us, our whole identity isn’t shattered when we let go of our connection (either willingly or forced) to a particular group because we have set our vision on godly things instead of human things. We are God’s beloved children, God’s people, and that can never be destroyed. We have been given the everlasting gift of belonging through Jesus.

When have you lost the sense of belonging with a group? How were you able to recover from the situation?

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