One of my deepest desires has always been to feel a sense of belonging–to be able to call someplace or some group of people my own. Ideally, a nuclear family is the first place a person can begin to understand what it means to belong. We all live in this house, have the same phone number, share some genes, go places together, etc. Oh yeah, and we love each other. Even though we might disagree, or not like certain things about each other, we’re not going anywhere.
Still, I know what it feels like to be disconnected and long for connection. I know what it’s like to be someplace and wish that someone would reach out to me and make me feel included.
For me, the first step is understanding the value of connection with other people. It’s like dropping anchor in a wild storm. It’s like hanging out in a bar where everyone knows your name. It’s about being uniquely interlocked with others who know that they need other people, perhaps as much as they themselves are needed. This awakens my desire to belong–basically, my discontent with disconnectedness.
Most people (myself at the top of the list), will scratch the surface in several areas of our lives, and wonder why we don’t feel a sense of connectedness, or belonging. Personally, my sense of belonging doesn’t come solely from other people making me feel like I belong, but it starts with me choosing to belong. I choose to belong to this church, these people, these groups, etc.
Next, I began to take steps to invest in what was going on around me by sharing my gifts and my personality with consistence. And perhaps most importantly, (and most frightening!) I had to start allowing others to know my thoughts, feelings and needs.
But between you and me, my default mode is isolation. I love to disconnect from other people. Sometimes, it’s just a whole lot easier (and less messy). But if it’s indeed a full and meaningful life I’m looking for, connecting with other people and belonging somewhere is a great way for me to find it.