There is a quote on belonging from Brené Brown that I love. It is exactly, in only one paragraph, so much of what I have been trying to communicate for about three years on this blog.
Sure, she manages to pull it off in just a few sentences, but I’m not jealous of her communication skills. Okay, maybe I am a little jealous.
Here are her three sentences that put several years of my writing to shame:
Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in and by seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging, but often barriers to it. Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance. -Brené Brown, Ph.D., L.M.S.W. (emphasis my own)
Yes to authenticity. Yes to letting go of trying to present who we aren’t because it divides rather than unites. I told you; I love this quote.
God placed a longing for community and belonging in us to draw us together and to draw us to him. Just think about the two greatest commandments: love God and love others.
Every commandment is there because God is giving us a guide to live our very best lives. When he told us to love God and to love others, he was giving us an instructional manual for emotional and spiritual health.
Our primal longing to be a part of something bigger stems from the fact that we were made to be in community with God. The entire Bible is telling us that he doesn’t need our perfection; he wants our humble acceptance of his power in our lives so he can do infinitely more through us than we could ever do alone. He is asking us to simply acknowledge our weaknesses and join him in community and allow him to fill in the areas where we lack.
However, God did not simply say to be in community with him. He says we should also love our neighbors (and our enemies for that matter). Our love for people reflects our love for God, and our love for God is reflected by loving people. God created us to be in community with him and with others.
We were made for so much more than most of us ever discover. Belonging doesn’t occur when we are better, smarter, or prettier. It begins when we accept our areas of weakness as our strengths. The areas we lack are what help us to realize our need for others and draw us into true community.
When we authentically love others with honesty and vulnerability, we become stronger communities and stronger individuals. It’s in our DNA. God made us for each other.