The Desire to Belong
Do you ever feel like you don’t belong, as if everyone else fits in with society or at least in some corner of the world? Then there are those unwritten steps of life which everyone seems to be taking, but you. Our eyes gaze at others seemingly put together lives on social media. Our conversations often consist of others saying life is so busy. So it seems, well, that they belong, that they figured out at least something right. Heck, if you are like me, even the stories about awesome virtuous saints can seem overwhelming more times then inspiring. Because, let’s face it, we will never be Mother Teresa or the next Joan of Arc. I know I could never withstand all that St John Paul II withstood or even be as simple and profound as St Theresa the Little Flower. Not to mention, I don’t have my life all figured out like it seems Billy Bob and Sally do! As my friends take closer steps to “settling down” and security, it seems that I just keep taking steps of gallivanting across the world.
Does everyone else actually have it all figured out? Do they really “belong,” like that universal deep desire presses us towards? As their social media profiles seem to portray? Through countless conversations I have entered in with people of all different ages, I have surprisingly discovered many others who also struggle with this feeling like they do not have it all together, they too are still seeking to belong. What?! That grown man who has a big house, a big family, and a good job, doesn’t know where he belongs? That musician who keeps making phenomenal music that millions are loving, does not really feel like she belongs either? Even some saints struggled with this. Mother Teresa, as most of us know, often felt alone and lost in a mission where she was changing lives for all eternity!
Like Jacob wrestled with the angel, I have been wrestling with this for some time now. While my wrestling match is not over, there has been some valuable insight the Lord has revealed to me so far. So how can we find peace and purpose in life? This sense of belonging?
1) Unveil the LIES! We are bombarded by lies every single day. Some from the media, some from past wounds, and yes, some from Satan (Whom many of us would like to pretend doesn’t exist). What are we believing that is a lie? This is a question to ask ourselves any time our heart is wrestless. Has a thought come in under the radar that does not match up with truth? The Truth shall set us free! Peace comes from unity with truth. How can we discover the lies we are believing ? Along with reading insightful books such as Unbound by Neal Lozano, and The Discernment of Spirits by Fr. Gallagher, journaling is a helpful means to actually tracing our thoughts. I find myself often believing the lie that I am just galavanting across the world trying to ‘figure myself out’. While I am always learning more about myself, it is not true that I am aimlessly jumping into things. With prayer and guidance, I have taken each of the steps in life because I feel that the Lord has truly lead me there. That the Lord is still leading me to something beyond what I can see. When I remind myself of this truth and reject the lie, a sense or rest returns to my heart.
2) Stop Comparing! I know I have heard this fact many many times before. Yet, it is still true, comparison is the thief of joy. Somehow, I keep falling back into this slippery slop. It is, in fact, a beautiful thing that I am not you, that I am not St Teresa or JP2. Why? Because each of us has a very unique call and purpose in life. While we may share things with others and walk together at some points of our lives, we are not created to be the same. Who are you? Who did God create YOU to be? Concentrating on God’s intimate path for you will provide you with the vision and joy meant for you. God doesn’t want another Suzy Q, He wants you. I know I have a very particular desire to use my artwork in a mission context. While it is easy for me to slip and compare myself to everyone else who is forming family’s or paying off their debt. It’s easy for me to say, they are so responsible and doing the right thing. This is usually the moment I need to slap myself and recognize that I am not them. If we have prayerfully pursued each step we have taken, we can be confident that God is leading. The fact is, I have been responsible and have not neglected paying bills or investing in those I love. This chapter of my life just looks different then others. PRAISE GOD! I HAVE A UNIQUE LIFE! So do you, your life shouldn’t look like your neighbors. The moment we try to squeeze into someone else’s story is the moment we loose our joy, our sense of purpose. Revel in your uniqueness, and revel in your neighbors’ uniqueness. Each life is to be a glory song to our Heavenly Father. Have we stopped singing? As St Catherine of Siena has said, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
3) Pray about what it means to Belong. Believe it or not, each of us desires this same thing. Sometimes it surfaces more strongly during different moments of our lives. Other times we do a darn good job at running from it by filling our lives with busyness or false fulfillments. Yet, each one of us has this yearning deep within our hearts. Why? It has been placed there, on purpose. This yearning to be deeply known and to know another is so good. It is not a mistake. However, if we are unaware of how to meet this desire we will keep running to things or others that are unable to fulfill us. This is why we see our world chasing things like sex, fame, or status. When we get what we’ve been chasing in this life, we quickly look to something new or something more to fulfill us. We run around like buckets with holes in them. In vain we fill ourselves up with water only to have it continually drain. To become whole again, to fix our brokenness it is necessary to first go the very one who has placed this desire within us in the fist place. Each human has been created for a union beyond what this world can offer us, union between us and God. It is from this unity, and it alone all other good things stem. It is this union and it alone that will completely satisfy our desire to truly belong. It is from this unity that our relationships will be more authentic and full. No matter what chapter of life we are in, no matter what vocation we are called to, no matter what trials or joys are present, no matter who comes in or out of our live’s, the gift of truly belonging is ours to have.
I have met many who are like me, still wrestling with these challenges. However, there are those few people who we encounter in life who seem unshaken. These people are the one’s who constantly come back to these three points. As humans, we are all weak. Thus, take courage and humbly come back to fulness. Take the time to unravel any lies and any seeds of comparison. Spend time, in open arms, with our Father who wants to intimately satisfy all that He has placed in your heart. You belong, this world needs the you that God calls you to be.