Do you struggle with belonging? Do you ever feel like you don’t fit? Some people just seem to fit right in no matter where they are, don’t they? I get a little envious of those wonderfully confident people sometimes. They ooze a sense of security that seems so unattainable to the likes of me. For the most part I’m thankful they’re getting all of the attention because it’s not attention I seek, I like that I can shrink back into my little safe bubble. I tell myself it’s nice in here. I can view the world from a safe distance without any damage. Or so I’ve convinced myself. Even though I like my “safe place” I still want to belong. I don’t want to be that square peg trying to fit into the round hole.
“If they only knew me…they wouldn’t like me.” “If I’m too real or let them see the real me…they won’t accept me.” “I come from a broken past…they wouldn’t understand.”
I tend to ride the struggle train quite a bit when it comes to the whole belonging & fitting in subject. Oh I belong where I’m at, usually. The struggle is between my ears, as I’ve been told time and again. I spend too much time having conversations with myself inside my head that are bent toward the negative when it comes to me, myself & I. I convince myself that I’m the third wheel. My struggle with belonging has never been because I feel like I’m better or above everyone else…it’s quite the opposite. It’s that I don’t measure up. It’s those thoughts that I allow to repeat themselves over and over again. These conversations go something like this: “If they only knew me…they wouldn’t like me.” “If I’m too real or let them see the real me…they won’t accept me.” “I come from a broken past…they wouldn’t understand.”
I’ve prayed about this issue for years asking God to help me overcome this. To get over myself. To stop making these situations about me. And He has. Little by little. Day by day. It’s been over 20 years since I chose to commit my life to Jesus & have a relationship with Him. I can look back over these years & see where’s He’s grown me, stretched me & is continually molding me. He has reminded me that yes, I do belong. I’ve realized that I’ve allowed myself to be limited in what God can do through me by being wrapped up in my bubble of fear. Where I’m deceivingly protected from any chance of rejection.
Confidence, however, can be a tricky thing. It’s one of those things that is good, but can be twisted.
Yes, I am an introvert. And yes, God designed me just the way He wanted. And oh yes, He wants me to be an overcomer. He wants to use me in my introvertedness in spite of my kicking & whimpering. Because we introverts don’t want to draw attention to ourselves we whimper instead of scream. In fact, we don’t always kick, we turn & run the other way as fast as we can. And in those rare instances that we’re trapped & can’t get away we just freeze. I’ve always thought that my introverted personality was a bad thing. That there’s something terribly wrong with me. I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t mean I can’t have confidence. Confidence, however, can be a tricky thing. It’s one of those things that is good, but can be twisted. Our confidence shouldn’t be in ourselves. It should be rooted in Christ. He should be the source of our confidence. He is the reason we belong.
What about those times when the right thing to do is be present somewhere, but it’s really the last place you want to be on one hand. And on the other hand you wouldn’t miss it for the world? You want to dig in your heels & say “no, I don’t belong there. I want so badly to belong, but I’d rather buy into the lie that I don’t because I think that it’s true. How can it not be true?” It’s the proverbial angel on one shoulder & devil on the other scenerio. It’s a very real struggle. There are many settings I still wrestle with. Especially if it’s a new situation.
I use to carry a verse around in my pocket that says this: “in God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me?” Psalm 56:11
Because experiencing this first hand, I now have a heart, a soft spot for blended families.
One such situation still gets me a little. When we became a blended family, with that came times of sharing events with members of one of our children’s “other” family. I don’t know if I’ll ever get good at it. I’m not sure just why it is difficult for me, but it is. So yeah, there are those times when you absolutely feel like wow, I really don’t feel like I belong here, right now, in this moment. But, I have to remind myself & be reminded by my husband that yes, I DO belong here at this very moment. That’s definitely a whole other subject I may unpack here someday. Because of experiencing this first hand, I now have a heart, a soft spot for blended families. It’s hard. It can be painful. And yet, there’s the other hand too…it’s wonderful. It’s rewarding. It grows you in ways you never thought possible. And it’s right where I belong.
So what’s to be done about this troubling area of belonging? Maybe we could look to God’s Word & see what He’s got to say about it? Shall we…
Can you think of anyone who didn’t belong or didn’t feel like they belonged in the Bible? One of my first thoughts goes to Moses. He complained about not being the right person to go where God was asking him to go. He made excuses. He was terribly afraid. His excuses went like this, “Lord, I can’t even talk right.” Moses didn’t feel normal – which to him equaled feeling accepted by others. He didn’t believe God could use him. He didn’t trust the truth that he belonged. To God. Belonged where God wanted him.
Then there’s David. Samuel was sent to find the next king in Jesse’s family even though Saul was still king. Samuel questioned God, “how can I go…[are you sure about me belonging in this role?]” Samuel may have even struggled with David belonging in the role as king because when he saw Eliab he just knew by Eliab’s appearance that this had to be the one God had in mind belonging in the role as the next king. He not only struggled with that idea, but I imagine David’s family struggled with David belonging as king too because David wasn’t even present when Samuel showed up to pick the next king from Jesse’s sons, he was still out tending the sheep.
How about one more. Remember Joseph? He was the youngest favored by his father. That alone was enough for his brothers to be bent toward rejecting him. His brother’s first attempt at getting rid of him was by dropping him in a well. After a small amount of guilt from Judah they ended up selling him into slavery. Therefore, sending the loud & clear message, “you don’t belong here. We don’t want you around.” “You do not fit.” Joseph not only went through this with his brothers but was sold yet again in Egypt where he ended up in Potiphar’s house. Once again he was soon in a position of not belonging and found himself in prison.
He used those unlikely people to bring glory to Himself.
These are only partial stories of a few people from God’s Word that tells of their struggles with belonging. Fitting in. Fear of rejection. But you know how these stories unfold & show just how God used each and every one of them for the purpose He had in mind. He used those unlikely people to bring glory to Himself. No matter how many times I read these stories I learn something new.
We all want to feel accepted. That’s the need we crave satisfaction for in order to feel like we belong. It doesn’t even matter if you’re an introvert or an extrovert we ALL are wired to have this need met. It’s as vital to our emotional & spiritual well being as water is to our physical well being. Maybe this starts with us? It definitely starts with us. Accepting ourselves. Believing that we are accepted by Christ. Truly accepted. Completely accepted.
“You belong in God’s household with every other Christian” (Ephesians 2:19b LB).
“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. “ (Colossians 1:16 ESV)
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28 ESV