Tuesday, May 11, 2010


“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
-Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Do you feel like you belong with someone? Do you feel like there is a group of people with whom you feel safe, accepted, and connected to?

The need to feel like you belong somewhere is one of the most basic of all human needs. It may not be as important as water, food, and shelter, yet it is a basic human need none the less. If you don't perceive that this need is being met for yourself you may try all sorts of things to cope with the loss of it. Addictions, depression, anxiety, violence, religiosity, self-harm, etc. The feeling of not belonging is one of the worst things we can ever experience.

I was reflecting on this today. We may try to convince ourselves that not belonging is OK, but we deceive ourselves. That sense of disconnection from others continually cries out to be remedied. Instead of blaming others, take a deep breath and steel yourself for some tough inner work. Begin considering what you might be doing to disconnect yourself from others: What thoughts do you believe about yourself? How do those beliefs manifest themselves in your actions towards others? What are you doing to repel others from you? There are many people out there who believe their lack of belonging is either other people's fault or they think something is innately wrong with them. Neither of these is accurate. Sit down with a good book on self esteem or with a counselor and work through your issues. When you do, you'll find solutions to your lack of belonging - and it will be up to you to choose to take action on the or not. I hope you do.

For those of us (OK, especially myself) who do feel like we belong, I have a different challenge. Why not invite someone into your circle of belonging? Often such people do subtle (or obvious) things to repel people but accept and include them anyway. Stretch yourself a little. Don't let their beliefs about themselves (or others) hold them down anymore. I had a friend in College who did this consistently. He was smart and could have hung out with anyone he wanted. Yet he chose those who had trouble believing they belonged and instilled confidence in them. My parents are also great examples of inviting people to belong. Ever since I can remember they extended hospitality to anyone on holidays - the continually gave (and give) people a place to belong. One of my ministry mentors Bill Morrison used to always put on his team someone who had trouble feeling they could belong. This person would always be a huge challenge for Bill but he did it because he believed that it was the right thing to do. And many of those people changed - growing in self confidence and their relationships with the Lord. Many of them grew into strong Christian leaders who then created their own circles of belonging - and began inviting those with belonging issues into them.

Sharing your life with people is important. What's your next step?

1 comment:

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