I Belong

Editor’s Note: During the month of November, we are going to learn how to build healthy, Godly relationships. Whether it is with yourself, your family, your friends, your co-workers, who we surround ourselves with matters! Relationships can be life-giving and sometimes not. Looking to the Word gives us clear direction and instruction on how to foster healthy relationships. Enjoy reading these just in time for the holidays!

One summer during a Fourth of July weekend, I was invited to a cookout where I watched fireworks with a group of friends. Music was blaring, kids were splashing down the water slide, and of course there was good food. I was able to hang out and visit with my friends, laughing and enjoying their company. For one of the first times in my life, I knew that I belonged. I was not an outsider. I was wanted and welcomed. 

I didn’t put words to it until the next morning in my journal, but as I sat there with my friends, another thought came up. I don’t feel like I have anything of real value to offer. I mean, I think I’m a good friend; at least I’m trying to be. But what do I really bring to the table as a person? Just sitting there being me? I’m not criticizing myself, and I don’t have low self-esteem. I just felt like I came to the table empty-handed. If I’m not doing something to help or serve in some way—if I’m just sitting there “being with” my friends—what do I bring to the table?  

Many of us have believed these lies (or something similar) about ourselves:

“I am alone.”

“I am the outsider looking in.”

“I am not invited.”

I have struggled with these lies as well. And to tell you the truth, I still struggle with them. I often wondered if I should write about it, because I’m still learning to receive my invitation from God: You are invited. Your presence matters. Take a seat at the table. Only after we have received this truth can we turn around and make room for others at the table. 

Here’s the catch: These lies are not my friends. Until you and I realize this, we will keep holding onto them as truth. But they are not true. And they will only hurt us further. 

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, an author and internal medicine doctor, writes that because of a troubled childhood, she did not trust God. Even after she became a doctor, she had no relationship with God until later. She writes, “My spiritual journey was never about finding God. My journey has always been about finding home—a place of rest.”

No matter who we are or where we’ve come from, don’t we all long for home, a place of belonging? C.S. Lewis writes: “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” This world is not our permanent home. And yet we are called to make home for ourselves in this world. We know it’s temporary, but God has still called us to create spaces for His heaven to meet the earth. We get to make room for God’s kingdom and beauty and creativity here. This includes intentionally building healthy relationships within the family of God. 

Author Emily P. Freeman writes, “When Jesus walked the dusty roads of earth, many followed Him, but then changed their minds. He was too much for some and not enough for others. He turned to His friends, the disciples, and asked if they wanted to go away, too. As we continue to learn what it truly means to be home, may we say, along with Peter, ‘Lord, where else would we go?’”

After Jesus in His physical form went to heaven, He came in spiritual form to live inside of us—not in a physical body, but as the Holy Spirit. He says it right there in John 14: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth…No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you…All who love Me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them” (John 14:16-18, 23, NLT).

I love this: The God of the universe came to the earth so that He could make His home with each of us. We are never alone. As a result, we can then make the conscious decision to build relationships within the family of God–His Body, His Church. 

We have to remind (even sometimes “coach”) ourselves who God says we are. Speak God’s truth and your feelings will follow. Sometimes this looks like asking to be part of a group (instead of wishing someone would ask you). Sometimes it looks like saying yes when you’re invited to go somewhere with someone. Stop telling yourself you’re not wanted. That lie is broken off! It’s gone now. As you step into your place in God’s family, live out the truth and claim it with confidence: I belong here, I have a place, I am valued, my showing up matters, my presence is a gift to these friends. Sometimes we have to take action and step into places that reflect the truth. People won’t always think to invite us. But if we already know God has invited us, we can join in with confidence. 

We would like to thank Heather Dillard for writing this post!

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