A Sense of Belonging
I’ve been the most limited in relationships that I felt I didn’t belong. I still am. Oddly enough, I’ve experienced this largely in both family & faith relationships. Where you are ‘supposed’ to belong.
As I walked my pup this morning, I thought a lot about why I have struggled with these relationships and why I can’t seem to rise above my feelings. It’s a heart pain, the kind that results from a deep wound. It is not from one time, it is a compounded effect from repeated exposure.
Because of this, I feel more drawn to certain people and less drawn to others. When my adrenaline rises around certain people I start to close down. This is the point at which I become very curious. I dug into the feelings and asked myself questions.
Why am I hurting? My heart is racing, what’s up? Who is making me uncomfortable? How can I make this feeling go away?
After years of believing I was the sole problem, and after reading Bréne Brown’s books, I had an uh-huh moment that started me digging into ‘belonging’.
The result of my curiosity has given me space to recognize that most of my uncomfortable relationships exist where I feel a lack of belonging.
What does it mean to belong? For me it means that I am fully loved and accepted for who I am. That there is much room and grace for me to make mistakes, that forgiveness is abundant.
Belongingness is the human emotional need to be an accepted member of a group. Whether it is family, friends, co-workers, a religion, or something else, people tend to have an 'inherent' desire to belong and be an important part of something greater than themselves. This implies a relationship that is greater than simple acquaintance or familiarity. The need to belong is the need to give and receive attention to and from others.
Belonging is a strong and inevitable feeling that exists in human nature. To belong or not to belong can occur due to choices of one's self, or the choices of others. Not everyone has the same life and interests, hence not everyone belongs to the same thing or person. Without belonging, one cannot identify themselves as clearly, thus having difficulties communicating with and relating to their surroundings.
Roy Baumeister and Mark Leary argue that belongingness is such a fundamental human motivation that we feel severe consequences of not belonging. If it wasn’t so fundamental, then lack of belonging wouldn’t have such dire consequences on us. This desire is so universal that the need to belong is found across all cultures and different types of people.
This sums up my heart so beautifully. We need to belong, it’s fundamental. But how do we know when we belong? For me, it’s an internal knowing that is deep and intuitive.
(I don’t want to lose you with the next line so please trust me when I say I’m not gonna get all churchy on you , but this stuff matters for me to share my story authentically)
Jesus loves this way, unconditionally. So as a Christian, my understanding was that this is how all Christians would love ~ but so many do not. I think this is because they are afraid to love, they are afraid that they too will be judged for being permissive with others or loving the wrong people. I think they judge others because they are scared that they don’t measure up. However, we always measure up in the eyes of Jesus and do not need to fear this. This is the very basis of my freedom.
However, my experience of never feeling ‘christian’ enough within church has led me to repeatedly question my worth, value, and to feel unloved by God. It has made me feel that I don’t BELONG in a church. I know this is not God’s heart, and that is the reason I have persisted in having a relationship with Him.
So there you have it, I am a Christian who has been very hurt within my chosen faith. But that’s not the end of the story, I have had wonderful women, like Tamarah of Meraki + Light, walk beside me and love me unconditionally. She showed me God’s great love and allowed me space & grace to explore it. When I told her some things I believed that she may disagree with, knowing that through this admission I could potentially lose her friendship (as I’d lost others in the past), she simply said she didn’t care what I believed but she loved me. She provided a safe space for me to be fully myself and take risks. In those few years we worked together I grew more than I ever have, simply from being fearlessly allowed to find myself. I always felt that I belonged with her, and in turn to Jesus.
This is a profound gift we can offer others. A space free of judgement or ridicule or cynicism. A space to explore and make mistakes, knowing we won’t be abandoned on the other side. A space to find our truth & wisdom that lies within each one of us.
My story brings me to a very important point, and one of the reasons The Well exists. I desperately want women to have a space they can access and feel fully loved and accepted for who they are.
For some of us this means we are bringing pain to the table, there is a spot for you here. For some of us we want to celebrate a win but feel scared to share because someone may be jealous or unsupportive. There is a spot for you here. Both success, failure, and everything in between, is honoured at The Well.
This is a space that offers freedom to fall, freedom to fail, freedom to take risks, freedom to love and be loved, freedom to succeed, and freedom to rise.
We offer you space, support, education, round table discussion, mentorship, coworking, a local and online community, and both business & creative workshops.
Best of all, we’d love to have you join us. You belong here.