For Anyone Longing to Belong

A few years ago, Anika took her first acting class at the Manitoba Theatre for Young People, and I will never forget what Ben’s mom said when she saw Anika’s first performance that Christmas. She said, “Anika has so much more confidence – she acts like she’s not asking anyone’s permission to be there anymore.”

I sat there for a few seconds as that hit me – I could see that change in Anika myself, but what was sinking in for me in that moment was that I suddenly realized how I’ve spent my whole life waiting for someone to give me the permission to be here.

In some situations, I think I can come across fairly confident, but the truth is that most of the time, deep down inside me, I enter a situation feeling hesitant, and holding back, waiting for someone to draw me in, make me feel included, give me the permission to be there.

I try to hide it as best I can – I never want anyone to know that I’m dealing with insecurity, because I’m embarrassed to be 36 years old, and still struggling with something that seems so junior high-ish. But the truth is, I still carry scars from junior high, when I was told over and over again that I didn’t belong.

But then I get curious – surely I can’t be the only person who feels this way. How many other adults are there, right around me, who also carry some secret, hidden longing to be included, to really feel as though they belong, and there’s a spot for them that will remain a gaping hole unless they fill it?

belongsource

A friend told me the other day that she doesn’t understand this struggle. She enters every situation, thinking, “Who WOULDN’T want to be my friend??! I have Jesus in me, and I am an asset to every situation I encounter!”

I love it. I want to be that way. But I think there’s some old, deep-rooted junk that I’ll need to deal with first.

As I’ve been reading the book, Can You Hear Me?, I came across a fascinating exercise:

Picture yourself standing beside Jesus in front of a mirror. Imagine that he’s just exhaled a big gust of steam onto the mirror. If he were to use his fingertip to write a message on the mirror about your true identity, what would he write? Read it.

I decided to give this a try. I spent some time quieting my thoughts, and then I did exactly as the author suggested. I asked Jesus, “What do you want to say to me about my identity?”

Immediately, a word appeared: it was the word belong.

And suddenly, I felt as though this great, deep, consuming hunger and longing overtook me. How I desire to feel as though I belong!

Ann Voskamp once wrote a beautiful blog post about how we can always know we belong, because God longs to be with us – we belong. That’s stayed with me. And it makes me wonder if I’ve spent years being mistaken about my longing.

As we’ve moved from place to place, and I’ve made friends again and again, I keep wanting to feel like I’m home – like I’ve found the place I’m meant to be, and I belong. So I have these huge expectations of what that will look like and feel like, and then I’m disappointed each time, which leads me to wonder if I can really, truly belong.

But what if that hunger for home, that desire to belong, is all just this longing I have to be with Jesus? To be known deeply and fully, and to stop searching and striving, to stop being disappointed when others don’t give me the permission for being here, because it was never theirs’ to give?

I remember reading Psalm 139 over and over again as a teenager –

“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways….”

There was something in that which spoke to my longing even then. I wanted to be known. I wanted to be searched out, sought after. I needed to be reminded of how He longed to be with me.

My friend, the one who is an asset in every situation, said to me, “What if this whole time, it’s been a lie? What if you’ve always belonged, but you can’t see it, because you’ve been believing a lie?”

It’s true, isn’t it? Since the day I became a Christian, I’ve always belonged to the only One who matters. He knows me, and He goes with me, and I need no other permission to be exactly where I am.

The lie has robbed me, not only of the security that’s been there for me all along, but also from the chance to help others feel it, too. When I spend all of my time wondering if there’s a place from me, I have no room to see the person beside me who’s wondering it, too.

Uproot me source

And so we all need to hang onto the truth that He longs to be with us, He gives us freedom from the lie that we don’t belong, and He gives us the security to go out, and share that truth with everyone around us.

So today, whether this is something you struggle with yourself or not, wouldn’t it be awesome to go out there, and say, “With Christ inside of me, I am an asset to every situation! I have everything I need to give to someone else who is lonely and hurting, and I can cover each person with truth and peace.”

We already have permission!;)

34 Days of Favorites: Home

I heard a song the other day which started with this line:

They say one day you’ll look out your door, and you’ll find you’re right where you belong. (“How I Love You”, by Rob Laufer)

And then I almost started crying.

Because that line speaks of the longing I’ve felt for a few months. It promises that transition will pass, and everything will settle into place, so slowly and surely that you won’t even know it’s happening.

I would very much like to look out my door, and find I’m right where I belong.

I think we’re getting there.

Right now, when I look out my door, I see weeds everywhere, half-finished houses, trucks parked randomly all over the place (sometimes on our yard, which crushes our beautiful weeds! Oh, no!), and lots of shirtless construction workers, which I’m getting really tired of.

When I told Ben this the other day, I said something like, “I can’t wait for the day when I can look out our windows, and NOT see half-naked men everywhere outside our house.”

Ben thought this sounded as though these half-naked men were standing right outside our windows, peeking in, and suggested that maybe I was being a little extreme.

Whatever. Let’s just say I’ll be thankful when the construction is finished, our street settles down, and we all plant some grass. Looking out my door will be more pleasant at that point.

I do have to say that despite the construction and weeds, this is feeling more and more like home all the time, and I am extremely thankful for the growing sense of belonging.

And I love our house. I really, really love our house. When listing my favorites of this past year, a new house would definitely have to make it on the list.

This is the second time Ben and I have been part of the building process, and I love it so much, I would do it again! It can be very stressful, and there are seemingly endeless amounts of decisions to make. A few times, it did feel as though I might lose it completely, and run out of the flooring store, wringing my hands and weeping because I couldn’t make one more big decision.

But now it is done, and it’s our, and it’s home. Love, love, and love.

I think my favorite thing about our house is that it looks like us. That sounds completely strange, but what I mean is when you come in the door, you see spread out before you everything that Ben and Kendra love. (Maybe a bit more Kendra than Ben….but I think our taste is similar enough that he’s happy with the outcome, too!)

It is open and bight and airy. The windows are huge and let in a ton of light. Dark floors, white kitchen, calm soothing colors, everything that makes me happy. (Some of it is a pain to clean, but I will choose to focus on loving the way it looks, and being thankful for all things Norwex.)

And I realize we’re spoiled rotten. Being able to build a new home not once, but twice, is really amazing.

Ben dreams of wild and crazy adventures all over the world, and I dream of growing old in Niverville, living in this house and growing apple trees in our backyard.

We’ll see what happens.ūüôā

In the meantime, I have to say that coming home to this house has been a highlight of the last year for me.

Maybe looking out my front door is not a beautiful experience, but coming in the front door definitely is!

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Okay, your turn! Tell me what you love about coming home.

And here’s the list of the favorites we’ve covered so far:

Counting Blessings

New Recipe

Quote

Getting Out of My Comfort Zone

Breakfast

Lunch

Supper

Sleep Habits

Body Brushing

Pinterest

New Camera

New Friends

Serious Music

Happy Music

Apple Cider Vinegar

Movies

Smiling

TV Show

Books

Clothing

Oh, How I Love the Back of Her Head!

The other day, I was reading this post about stopping to appreciate the ordinary miracles that are so easy to miss in the busyness of life.

I thought about that yesterday, when I went to peek into Kaylia’s room to see if she had fallen asleep for her nap.

There she lay, peaceful and beautiful, giving me a perfect view of the back of her head…

Eight years ago, when Ben and I were nervously expecting our first baby, we went for that first ultrasound – that first glimpse of our miracle. And there she was, amazing and healthy, giving me a perfect view of the back of her head.

She looked just like me….from the back!

I have this baby picture of me from the back, and the second I saw Anika for the first time, I was overcome. We were seeing our baby! Our baby! She belonged. She had my head.

Fast-forward through all those years of infertility, all those nights of praying, crying, hoping for a sibling for Anika, wondering if God would bless us so richly a second time, and imagining what Little Person Number Two would look like – like Anika, like us, belonging perfectly in our family…

Fast-forward through all of that, and there we were for another ultrasound, and the very first glimpse we got of Kaylia was of the back of her head! And she looked just like Anika. Just like me.

As she grows older, that view of the shape of her head will probably be covered up with thick long hair, just like her sister’s, the same color as their daddy’s, but I will never forget those first glimpses.

So as she lay there in her crib yesterday, I was struck again by the view of the back of her head. She’s ours. And she belongs perfectly.