A way to belong

To belong. I don’t know about you, but this has been nearly a constant longing for my heart throughout my life, and one that has often felt unfulfilled. For me, this was because I had viewed belonging as something conditional. If I produce this result or perform at this level, I will belong. If I assimilate myself, matching the communication, appearance and ideology of those around me, I will belong.

Behind all these strategies was a central lie: the real me doesn’t belong. The me that fails at times, the me that doesn’t always have the right look or words, the me that sometimes thinks and believes something different than the others. That me has no real place. So as a result, I hide her, I mask her, I silence her, I push her back.

But Jesus does not treat her that way. As I listen to Jesus, I hear amazing things. I learn that Jesus knows my story. My story matters to Him. He knows it even better than I do. He gently takes me by the hand and walks me through each chapter, showing me my wounds, showing me the lies I began to believe about myself, showing me how I still believe those lies at times today. Like the woman at the well in John 4, I marvel because here is One who can tell me everything I ever did and still He seeks me out, still He teaches me, ministers to me, invites me into Himself.

Jesus says to me, come follow me. You do not have to produce results and perform perfectly. Dear one, I came as a physician for the sick, not the healthy. I came to call not the righteous but sinners (Matthew 9:12-13). He tells me that He created me, just as I am and that He knows my inmost thoughts, every word before it crosses my lips (Psalm 139). He assures me that He not only created and formed me, He has also redeemed me and called me by name, not in a general sense but intimately and individually, to follow Him. I belong to Him (Isaiah 43:1).

Yes! This is the core truth that drives out the fear and the lie that I don’t belong: I do belong because I belong to Jesus! I will always be accepted, wanted and loved. What tremendous freedom! When I belong, just as I am, I am finally free to be the woman whom He created me to be. I can bring her unique personality, passions and gifts to the world to be used for His glory without fear that what I have to offer isn’t good enough. I can also bring her unique strongholds, secrets and stumbles for healing, equipping and support because I am safe from rejection. My belonging is no longer dependent on the expectations and reactions of other people.

So in the moments of my insecurity and doubt, when I start living as though I can lose my spot, I now tell myself the truth: you belong because you belong to Him. I invite you to tell yourself this same truth, to start really living it, and to watch how life transforms when the real you is invited to step forward without fear.

From the desk of Katie Sandquist, Executive Director