For as long as I can remember, I have longed to belong but have instead presented a version of myself that I thought might be accepted by others so that I would fit in.
The online definition of “belonging’ is defined as a verb meaning to be a member or part of a particular group, organization or class. To fit in to a specific place or environment, to have the right personal or social qualities, to be a member of a particular group or to be rightly placed in a specific position. I loathe every single one of those definitions because they do not convey the deep longing that exists for someone who aches to belong.
Brene Brown, who is best known for her Ted Talks on Vulnerability and Shame, compares and contrasts what it means to ‘belong’ with what it means to ‘fit in’. She makes the clarification between the two which I feel gives us a more accurate definition because we can see that freedom exists with belonging and does not exist when we try to just ‘fit it.’ When attempting to fit in, we are attempting, to the best of our ability, to ascertain who we are to be with those around us and what the situation or circumstance is that we are encountered and then conforming or changing who we are as persons so that we “fit in” and so that we will be accepted.
Belonging, on the other hand, is about freedom of authenticity. It is the freedom from having to alter our selves so that we will be accepted, wanted and valued. When we belong, we are respected for who we are and loved without having to “do” or “be” anything other than ourselves.
In summary, belonging is being somewhere you desire to be with others you desire to be with and they want you. Fitting in is when they don’t care one was or the another whether you are there or who you are when you get there. Belonging is being accepted just as you are while fitting in is being accepted when you are just like everyone else. “I get to be me if I belong” vs. “I have to be like you to fit in”.
What I understand right now, in this moment is that as long as I settle for just fitting in I will never satisfy the deepest longing of my heart which is to be intimately seen, looked upon in love and to experience the safety of truly belonging. My deepest longing and desire is for the unique and unrepeatable gift of myself to be received. If I were to write a mission statement it would look something like this:
“It looks like stopping daily for the one in front of us and looking into their eyes. We have to see the one. If we cannot see the one, we will not be able to deal with the multitudes. If we see the one, we will understand suffering, because we will see one parent suffering from the death of a child. We will see one widow trying to not lose their faith as they try to imagine how they will raise up their children alone. We will see the one in front of us that is struggling with pornography and the impact it has on their family. Revival is about looking into they eyes of the person in front of you as they come into your life and looking into their eyes and seeing Jesus looking back at us. I desire to lead a radical army that sees goodness and truth and beauty in the lost and the broken. We need a radical army of laid down lovers=a whole generation of those who are so full of passion and intimacy that they run into the darkness without fear to bring in the lost bride.”
I read a great quote by Heidi Baker about revival looks like. She talked about how it looks like stopping daily for the one in front of you and looking into his or her eyes. We have to see the “one’. If we cannot see the “one”, we will not be able to deal with the multitudes. If we see the “one”, we will understand suffering, because we will see one child that is dying from cancer. We will see one mother angry that God, the universe, the world, whatever or whomever was responsible for taking her innocent child. We will see the one widow trying to not lose her hope and dreams about having a a beautiful life as she tries to imagine how she will raise up his or her children alone. We will see one person, struggling with pornography and the impact it has on their beliefs about their own bodies or about how to be in relationship with other peoples bodies. Revival is about looking into the eyes of the “one” and seeing the “person” looking back at you, not the individual, the person.
Personhood is about individuality and being a unique and unrepeatable person chosen to come into existence into the world at this exact time and place for a reason. Out of the countless “potential” people who could have been chosen, personhood means that you are chosen. I believe that. I believe each person is chosen and called into existence. For some of you, that creator is the universe or divine energy, karma, or God. For others you may believe that your existence came into being only because two people had a baby but make no mistake, you are here and you are so unique that even your fingerprints and DNA speak that truth through science.
Not only are we unique but we are three parts. Our personhood is a triune being. It is physical matter, it is immortal soul (some call this energy that lives on after death or is transformed after death) and it is spirit. I do not want to get religious or specific in ways that will separate us in this discussion as my only purpose is to speak to how glorious we all are and how individual and complex it is to be a human being. Our unique treasure within the vessel of who we are is perfectly suited for love and the world is in desperate need of love. For now I hope we can agree that the world needs a revival and that revival must begin with an encounter of love.
What does that look like? Well, love is encountered in many ways. We can encounter love through a slow falling snowflake, drifting like a fat white fluffy snowflake, drifting down like confetti and landing on our tongues. Love can be encountered by the sound of the trees moving in the forest as a gust of wind comes and moves them in a rhythmic dance of stretching and swaying of each tree in unison. Love is encountered when a baby grabs the finger of its parent as it drinks its milk. Love is encountered in the embrace of one another. There are many ways we encounter love and each of us are called to enter into the revival bringing that love to others.
If love has a face, then let it be our face. We have to be willing to look at one another with love in our eyes and love in our hearts unafraid to be seen and to see the other. The world needs lovers. I do not mean sexual lovers but I mean lovers of hearts, lovers of intimacy. The world needs people so filled with love they are overflowing upon all that they encounter.
The world needs a radical army of laid down lovers willing to see the good in every person especially in the lost and the broken. We need a generation of crusaders who are so full of passion and intimacy that they run into the darkness without fear to bring in the lost and broken. Those who do not know love hide in darkness. We, who are lovers of all that is true, good and beautiful are to carry this as if it is a light carried in our vessels of clay, we are to be tabernacles, the hands and feet bringing hope to the h That is what love looks like. It looks like you and I opening our hearts to the hopeless.
Love is not a mission or a program or a feeling or even an action or act of the will. Love is a living entity that is the source from which we draw upon. We are to be smalls signs of that love carrying it out into the darkness.
So why is it that when we are desperate for love that we seem to be incapable of giving and receiving it? Because you cannot give what you do not have. Why don’t we have it? Because many us have wounds from our childhoods caused by a lack of love or a distortion of what love actually is…
“Wounds caused by a lack of love, or a distortion of love, are often at the root of our brokenness. That’s why we call it ‘healing broken hearts’…healed by a positive experience of love.”- Emiliano Tardif
People are not perfect. The expression “hurt people hurt people” comes to mind. The thing is…we must first encounter and receive love personally before we can be the face of love to others. So if we are not encountering love in the people we meet then it may be because those people are hurting and are in need of healing. People are hurting because of a lack of love and affirmation.
“Love does not start with a good program. It cannot. It starts with being in love, being intimately connected to Jesus. It starts with knowing first that I am loved. I cannot give what I do not have. It is supernatural. It cannot be apart from Him. All living fruit in my life has come only from a living relationship with Him.” Michelle Perry
She is of course speaking about the source itself and once again I invite you not to get distracted by the word to describe the source. I may refer to the source as God but you may have another name. What I would hope to convey is that we need to be filled so that we can offer our excess to others in a gift of self. When we find healing we can hold all that is poured into us. Our hearts are filled to overflowing. When we are wounded, we leak like a sieve through the cracks created in our hearts by those who have wounded us with trauma, abuse or neglect. The enemies of our souls would have us to believe
We need healing so we can hold all of the love that God desires to pour into our hearts. Without healing, we leak like a sieve…the graces we receive from prayer and sacrifice just leak right out of the cracks. The enemy of our soul has us believing that none of this works, God is not real or that prayer and sacrifice don’t matter. The reality is we are barely able retain the graces God is giving to us much less share with anyone around us when we don’t address the places we are leaking.
We don’t need more programs. We don’t need more catechesis. We don’t need to focus on teaching the rules of religion. The “how’s and what’s” are killing people’s love. What we need is healing. We need to seek healing for our own broken hearts so that we can love others better.
We are all family. Love desires to see the one in front of you. Love means stopping for the one and making a connection because every person is awaiting your face of love is asking themselves “Can you look past my pain and addiction and love me anyway? Can you see beyond the masks I wear to who I really am? Will you love me even when I disappoint and hurt you?”
I realize that stopping to see the “one” may be a bit frightening for some of you because “seeing” might compel us to become involved and that involvement would surely entail risk. Risk might mean personal cost and this is why so many people wear masks, hiding there pain, their fear and the broken places where they feel thew will be rejected or abandoned. However, I KNOW that we are on the cusp of a major revival. I KNOW that many people are praying for courage and beginning to say yes to the Holy Spirit so they can be the radical laid down lovers for Jesus Christ that the world needs so badly. I know because I am in that army.
What is the key to revival? SIMPLY PUT IT’S deeply and intensely Loving your Neighbor. Radical intimacy is needed because love has a face and it is not something it is someone and that someone is you. Are you so full of passion for Jesus that no matter what you are asked to do you will say yes?
Perhaps you are worried you won’t do or say the right thing. Well the truth is that there may be NOTHING you will be able to do but you can listen to their stories and pray with them. All we need to do is all things in love. Even the tone of our voice or making eye contact in a loving way can be an invitation to a hurting and lost soul to enter into deeper intimacy and this prepares the way for relationship with Christ, when they see Christ in us.
One thing we need to be better at is empathy. Many of us are sympathetic but not empathetic. What people desire is connection and when we are empathetic we connect to something in us that understands the pain or suffering in the other person in a real and personal way and we feel WITH people. Sympathy is a pat on the back and usually starts with words like “At least….” where we try to makes someone feel better or try to make them see the bright side or we say “when life gives you lemons make lemonade!” Well, if you lemons are the death of spouse how do you make lemonade out of that? This short video says all that you need to hear about how and why we need to STOP being sympathetic and learn to be empathetic so that we can honor one another in a more intimate and connected way.
Are you ready to reach out for the lost? Are you ready to be a radical laid down lover for Christ? Well, honestly, sometimes the way Jesus begins is by undoing us so that He can put us back together in a more whole and perfected way. We need to be transformed from the inside out. This happens with our own personal encounter. Encountering does not always feel warm and fuzzy or profoundly healing, sometimes it is more as though He comes and sits on you to make a point. Sometimes pain and suffering is the only thing that will make us give in and stop running and surrender to Him and allow Him to do His work in our hearts and heal and transforming us so we can radiate love to everyone around us.
It is not what He is building around us it is what He is building inside of us that truly matters. We need to focus on the eternal things. Everything around us is in a state of decay, houses, cars, things rust and break down but Holy immortal souls are being lost and the Holy Spirit desires to set the world on fire with the burning love of the Trinity.
If love has a face, it is my face and it is your face and we have to look at one another with love in our eyes and love in our hearts. Who do you need to forgive so that you can begin loving them?
If you desire to be the face of love then pray this prayer right now!
Come Holy Spirit! Father, please come and heal my wounded and troubled heart. I beg you to heal the torments that are causing anxiety in my life. I beg you, Lord Jesus in a particular way, to heal the underlying source of my sinfulness. I beg you to come into my life and heal the psychological harms that may have struck me in my childhood and from the injuries they have caused throughout my life. Lord Jesus, you know my burdens. I lay them on your Good Shepherd’s Heart. I beseech you—by the merits of the great open wound in your heart—to heal the small wounds that are in mine. Heal my memories, so that nothing that has happened to me will cause me to remain in pain and anguish, filled with anxiety. I want to forgive all those who have offended me. Look to those inner sores that make me unable to forgive. You who came to forgive the afflicted of heart, please, heal my wounded and troubled heart. Heal, O Lord Jesus, all those intimate wounds that are the root cause of my physical illnesses. Jesus, I offer you my heart. Accept it, purify it and give me the sentiments of your own Divine Heart.
Come Holy Spirit and Heal me. Heal me from the pain caused by the loss, death or abandonment of my loved ones. Grant me the grace to regain peace and joy in the knowledge that you are the Resurrection and the Life. Make me an authentic witness to your resurrection, your victory over sin and death, and your loving presence among all men and women. Amen
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing”. 1 COR 13:1-3