Belonging is a funny thing. From conception, I think, we all fight to belong. In the womb, we find a sense of belonging with our mother – she is the source of our food, our soft place to land, our sanctuary. What comes after birth, often feels like a drawn out case of trial-and-error where we try on different proverbial clothing. We have many attempts at finding where, and with whom, we “fit.” I think, on some deep, unseen level, we’re all yearning to really belong.
Media tells us we won’t belong without owning x, y, or z product or service. Society tells us we won’t belong if we don’t conform, in some form or fashion, to a belief system or practice of behavior. And in some circles, belonging does not actually begin without some sort of initiation. The world we currently live in would have us believe that belonging doesn’t actually happen naturally. Instead it is something we must earn, fight for, and that we have to prove ourselves worthy to belong.
God’s Word teaches us to rest in our belonging from the very beginning
On the contrary, God’s Word teaches us to rest in our belonging from the very beginning. In Isaiah 64:8 the Spirit-inspired prophet writes, “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” And later in Ephesians 2:10 Paul tells us we are “His workmanship.” Also, David’s words in Psalm 139 remind us that our frames were “not hidden from You [God]. . .” So, when I think about belonging from a Biblical worldview, I think about being seen and known in ways that are wholly unique and deeply intimate.
I belong to my mom because I know what the sound of her heartbeat sounds like from the inside.
I belong to my family because they’ve stood beside me in every season, whether it was tumultuous or marked by sunshine.
And I belong to Jesus, because He knew the number of my days, the intensity of my heart, and the struggle of my insecurities...all before I ever took my first breath.
There is an intimacy incited with the idea of belonging. It does not mean ownership, instead it is two souls gazing on the other and silently acknowledging, “I know the darkness of the storms you walk through, and I’m still going to do my best to lay light down, and walk with you.”
Belonging means we hear, and we are heard.
And I don’t know about you, but I can get very caught up in believing I go unheard by God. I am a girl who likes her answers quick! I also find myself praying, “And if you can manage it, Jesus, give me the answer I want. Kgreatthanks.” And then when the answers take their time arriving, or they aren’t the answers I’m hoping for, I allow my anger to fly, asking God why He doesn’t listen and why He won’t answer.
Recently, I’ve started asking the Lord for very clear answers. I’ve prayed things like, “Make it so clear that there is NO way I can deny that it’s You, Papa.” And as time wore on, I began to think I was in the clear. He wasn’t saying move, so I thought I was supposed to stay. And that gave me a shaky unfounded relief.
Then an answer came. And it was undeniably Him. And yet all I felt was anger.
“God, I know I asked you to make it clear, but didn’t you hear how desperately I didn’t want this answer? You’re the God of the universe – you’re telling me you couldn’t pull some strings here and manage a little switcheroo?
In the midst of my anger, and of furiously journaling all the ways I was enraged and how I wanted Him to fix it, He did what He always does (no matter the amount of petulance I’m serving up) -- He showed up to remind me to Whom I really belong.
“But truly God has listened; He has attended to the voice of my prayer.”
- Psalm 66:19
I think the lesson I’m continually learning is that we cannot ask God for clear answers and yet not expect Him to deliver. Jesus is the kind of friend we all really hope for on this side of Heaven that often feels impossible to find. He will wholeheartedly, without hesitation, answer the questions we hand Him with the utmost honesty. He rushes in, even on the cusp of us having full-on tantrums, and says, “Hey! Kiddo, if I don’t want something for you, I will make it so that you will not have it – no matter how much the last parts of your soul yearn for it.”
But truly God has listened; He has attended to the voice of my prayer. Truly God has listened -- even when He answers differently than we want. Truly God has listened, even when He says move, and we don’t want to. Truly God has listened, even when we don’t hear Him in our timeline. Truly God has listened, because He is God. And we are His. We belong to Him first and foremost.
Steph Duff wants to live in a world where every human, whether small or regular-sized, learns to use their voice and is seen and known. When she's not traveling and story telling with Back2Back Ministries, you'll likely find her drinking excessive cups of coffee, with her nose in a book, or daydreaming about India. Her favorite scripture is Habakkuk 1:5, and she prays for a world in which Jesus is the name on every lip. Learn a little more about her love for semi-colons, what stirs her blood, and the yearnings of her heart over at www.stephaniduff.wordpress.com.