It seems we human beings have an insatiable desire to belong to something bigger than ourselves. As soon as we are weaned from our mother’s breast or the bottle, the desire to attach our independent selves to another person or group begins. Both little girls and boys alike seem to announce their pick of a best friend as soon as they launch into their first social situation.
Today’s definition of good parenting demands that parents sign their child up to as many organized groups as early as possible. Girl and Boy Scouts, dance troupes, choirs, martial arts, drama, and every sport imaginable, all offer a child a place to belong. As we get older, neither the desire, nor the groups diminish. Book clubs, supper clubs, bars, and country clubs are on the menu to meet this need in us as adults. We are so desperate to belong that we are even willing to pay money for the privilege to add our names to a group’s exclusive roster. We long to belong, to attach our names to another.
The Bible is very clear that before time began there was companionship, community, and oneness. It existed between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit-what we call the Holy Trinity, which, when literally translated, means “the perfect three.” While I do not even pretend to understand this most amazing and complex relationship, I feel I must mention it because I believe it helps explain the basis of our longing to belong. Because we belong to God, He longs for us to experience the perfection of the Holy Trinity-separate identities coming together and then becoming one. We can see the greater sum does not diminish the uniqueness of each part but only serves to enhance it. God wants us to experience this mysterious completeness that alone we never will. Thus we should not be surprised by our strong need to belong and our aversion to being alone. We started life literally attached to our mother. We were then birthed into a group, a family.
Romantic love, belonging to another, is something we all believe will complete us. Marriage was designed to give us that sense of belonging. It was to be a place where two separate, unique individuals come together to become one, and from that oneness each entity was to be enhanced, a new life formed, and a family created. In my own marriage, I have been so fortunate to experience just that. However, I have also been divorced. I know how difficult it can be when separation occurs. It is a pain-filled process for everyone.
Friendship is another profound way I personally have experienced unity that creates a sense of belonging. Many have said that friends are the family you get to choose. I totally agree. There are people in my life upon which I have bestowed the identity of my friend, but that title woefully lacks the ability to describe what they mean to my heart. One of the kids in our clan coined the phrase God-family to describe friends who become family. Time and distance cannot diminish the bond and the oneness we share. These friendships are divine, and I believe also created on purpose for a purpose. We belong to each other.
When we are healthy, all of these attachments and relationships can provide us with a much-needed sense of belonging and an identity intertwined with others. However, they only seem to meet our need to belong on a temporary basis. It does not matter how many groups we belong to or identify with, each of us will find ourselves, at one time or another, alone or lonely, divorced or estranged, left or abandoned. This is incredibly painful and can breed a host of emotions that can prove lethal to our newly discovered identity.
That is why God adopted us into His family and provides an irrevocable place for us to belong. This place is not based on efforts or performance. He loved us first. He chooses us and offers a mysterious completeness that other human beings and groups can never provide. I learned this the hard way, and you will probably have to as well. People will never complete me. Your relationships will never complete you. People, and our relationships with them, are imperfect, just as we are. People alone will never meet our need to belong. When we grasp this truth, it takes the pressure off our relationships and we can just enjoy them. We stop the frantic search to belong.
A bride and groom. Families. Friendships. All of these relationships were to be glimpses, imperfect copies, of the original design God intended for us to experience in relationship with Him. He wants to give you a permanent place to belong so you are no longer sifting through the rubble of earthly relationships looking to a mere human being to provide what only He can.
As I learned this lesson, my relationships with people got stronger because I no longer depended on them to validate me. I know I have a place where I belong. I know that I am never alone. I know my identity and that I have a world-changing destiny. Do you?
You must look to your Creator to solidify this truth within you. You, too, are called beloved. You, too, have a place to belong.
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