Where do I belong?

11:57 AMHeather

I can remember the dusty school playground and the groups forming as a Red Rover game was underway.  And being chosen at the very end.  Again.  I can remember standing at the end of the slide at the little park in our cul de sac, where "friends" taunted me for my speech impediment.  I can vividly remember my unswerving determination to wear a dress or skirt every single day, lest I be mistaken for a boy again with my very short hair cut.  And the day that the school nurse made a comment about how I must be choosing my outfits because surely no mother would put those things together.  I was in second grade. I can remember her face and the humiliation I felt.  The shame. 

I was not a fan of elementary school.  I lived on an Army base, where friendships changed frequently as people came and went.  I remember feeling lonely.  A lot.  There was a time when my best friend Kerry Beth Haney made up for it all.  But, her dad was stationed elsewhere all too quickly, and I was left again.

Belonging.  

It's an issue for me.  I've come to a new revelation recently.  There are these old issues that are like a ball of yarn.  I've spent years trying to unravel them and put them to rest.  Just when I think I come to the end of the knots and have a nice long string at last, I find another knot to work through.

Belonging is one of those.  Old wounds.  Layers of them.  The most painful ones I will not speak of here, out of respect for those involved.  But, suffice it to say, that I often wrestle with a feeling that I am a nomad who does not quite fit in.  This is not true with my husband and children--our own little family where I know my role and feel loved and cherished.  But in the larger world, I'm not so confident.  I hate to even admit that my wonderful immediate family does not fill every void.  Yet, it's the honest truth.  And I'm being transparent here.

It still startles me when, as a grown-up, those feelings from childhood find their way to the surface.  And I must be brutally honest to say that I wonder if I'll ever stop feeling like a little kid with no one who claims me.  


This all came to light again as I've processed the content of what Christine Cain had to say at the IF Gathering.  She spoke from Joshua 6 about how, like the Israelites, we have been delivered from captivity.  Yet, like the Israelites in the desert--just outside the impossible walls of Jericho--we are not experiencing freedom.  We are delivered, but not free.  We stand there, on the cusp of the Promised Land, yet do not taste its fruit.  Because of impossible walls.

I cannot shake that teaching.  I've chewed on it for many weeks now, asking God to reveal the impossible walls.  WHAT is keeping me from freedom?  

Suffice it to say that there are a myriad of issues, I'm quite sure.  But, this wrestling match with belonging has come barreling through my thoughts as first and foremost to confront.  

So here we are, bloggy friends.  I'm throwing it out there, holding nothing back.  Because I think I'm not the only one.  I'm in the midst of this wrestling match.  I cannot summarize it with an easy solution to putting this belonging thing to rest.  

But, I feel I'm on the road.  Because I'm allowing it to come to light.  I'm owning the fact that I still struggle to feel I belong.  I have old wounds that obviously still bind me up.  They build walls around my heart, holding me back from freedom.

Because they keep me searching to fill a void with people.  With man's approval.  They taunt me of those who have hurt me.  Trying to convince me that I deserve better.  Leaving me licking my wounds. I can oh-so-quickly ruin a perfectly good day with the irritability and sadness this issue can dredge up within me.  

Impossible walls.  Barriers to the freedom God wants to offer me.  

Here's a few revelations on this topic that are moving me along, helping me to unravel the knots.  

First and foremost, I was never left alone.  God has challenged me to embrace and recognize and be encouraged that He was there, all along.  I may have been left behind by others, but never by Him.

He was there in that friendship with Kerry Beth.  Who laughed with me, climbed trees with me, and befriended me.  It may not have lasted, but it was a refuge.  It was a little bit of Jesus with skin on.  He was there in the creativity and the artistic expressions of my childhood that soothed me and gave me a glimpse of my contributions to the world.  He was there in the speech therapists who corrected my impediments and erased them within me.  He was there in the lady from church that my parents hired to teach me to sew.  She was patient and loving and gave me her full attention.  

He was there in other seasons, in other moments.  He was there through songs and people and Scriptures and blue skies and rainbows of promise and a million other winks from heaven to prove His presence.  I just have to stop and see them with fresh eyes. To turn from the pain to see His faithful presence.

Second of all, I don't belong here.  Period.  You see, God says in Ecclesiastes that He set eternity in the hearts of all men.  In other words, I was made with a longing for my forever home.  A sense of feeling like an alien in a foreign land is actually part of my birthright as a child of God.  So, rather than try to erase every ounce of this feeling, I have to learn to embrace it and reframe it.  And remember that this world will never satisfy.  I was made for so much more.  And that's okay.  

And third of all...and this is the clincher.  THIS is the challenge.  THIS is the thought I cannot shake.

If the God of all creation calls me His own--cherished and loved and a member of His family, then WHY do I allow that voice to be drowned out with the noise of the world and opinions of others?

Why do I give more weight and importance to those who will never satisfy, who have far less to offer, who are as broken and wounded and messed up as I am?  


Hmm.  WHY indeed.  THIS is where God is settling my soul.  On this issue.  On the need to silence the noise of the world.  To discount the opinions and approval of man.  Because I have been flooded with a grace that exceeds and erases all else in my life.  

And I shrink that grace and His love every single time I allow myself to feel pushed down by the thoughts and opinions (or even my perceptions of thoughts and opinions) from other people.

I box Him in.  I tell myself He's not enough.  I listen to the deceit of the serpent who tries to distract me from all the goodness of God, tripping me up on one issue instead.  

And its an issue that's been laid to rest.  Because Jesus was sent from the perfect community of the Trinity to walk this fallen earth.  To save me from the sinking ship of my sin nature.  To love with such abandon and recklessness that He loved me to death.  His grace is so scandalous that it should drown out all other voices.  

But I have this impossible wall.  Where I shrink this love and this grace through disbelief.  He cries out His love for me, and I hit the mute button.  I turn my head instead to the naysayers.  I try to earn what I never can.  His grace is a gift freely given.  And every time I sulk in my poor me, I don't belong mentality, I leave the gift unwrapped.  I hold the answer, yet deny its power.  

And I'm done.  I'm tired.  I'm weary.  I don't want to feel like that six-year-old girl who didn't quite fit in.  I don't want to feel like the new girl who can't laugh at the "had to have been there" jokes.  I don't want to feel separated and misunderstood because of a grief and loss that still stings because it changed my entire life.  I don't want to feel all sad and lonely anymore.  

I want to unravel this knot, chunk this darn ball of yarn, and break through the impossible walls.  To learn to drown out the voices and train myself to listen to the One who shouts His adoration, from high upon a cross.  

Saying to my wandering soul, feeling left behind and left out..."It is finished."

Because I am His.  And He is mine.  And that's where I belong.  It's an eternal embrace with the power to shatter impossible walls.

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