So let me preface this by saying that this post has nothing to do with Bob Marley. If you follow me on Facebook, you already know the backstory to this wonderful picture. If you don’t here’s the story:
I typed an entire post about the concept of belonging and why we feel the need to belong to someone and something. It was incredible. I’d been thinking about it for a week. It flowed.
I like to send my posts over to my mom to edit because she’s smart and gets my train of thought better than anyone else that exists so I copied it from this format to paste it into a document that I could email over. When I copied it, I simultaneously, accidentally, frighteningly pasted a picture of Bob Marley large enough to take up the entire space of my blog and deleted what I had written. It was gone. It vanished. Poof.
I know I wasn’t supposed to worry. I was supposed to be happy. Thanks, Bob. But instead, I cry-laughed in the middle of the coffee house I was sitting at and decided to rewrite everything because I had also exited out of the page too quickly and thus sealed my fate of being unable to undo what Bob had started.
So, praise the Lord. Here we are now.
Post my spectacular Bob appearance, I decided to read from Jeremiah to both get some devos in and revamp my mind for the new piece I was going to write.
Everyone has this desire. I spend time with students from grades 1st-12th grade daily and while they all are so different in their mannerisms, senses of humor, and talents, one attribute holds them all the same in my eyes: their desire to belong.
I have my students repeat this saying every day with me before we even get started with our day, “I am loved, I am special, I am kind, and I am respectful.” Usually they scream it along with me, enjoying the attention to their little, sweet spirits, but yesterday, one 3rd grade boy looked me square in the eye and said, without skipping a beat, “I’m not special and I will never be special.” He said it as if it was something he had proven to himself, something that was true to him.
I immediately corrected him and said, “Even when you don’t feel special, you will always be special and loved to me.” We moved on from that activity, but my heart was broken for the rest of the day.
How could this precious little person truly believe that he had no value?
A little girl was in my class last week and we had an activity where we would write letters to new penpals. Creating community is Miss Sena’s specialty. She started crying and hid in a closet. Once I found her I asked, “What’s wrong? Don’t you know you’re loved?”
She tearfully replied, “I hate myself. I’m not special. I’m stupid.” She didn’t want to do this activity because she believed she wouldn’t be loved through it. She believed she would be thought of as a stupid girl.
She believed she was unlovable.
Again, I corrected her. “I love you. Nothing will change that. You are intelligent and important.” I was speaking words of truth to her, but it’s difficult to speak love into a person who truly believes that she isn’t worthy of any.
We are all looking for a place to truly belong. That’s why, as a society, we have so many community groups, young adults groups, and youth groups. That’s why there is so much pressure in “finding your perfect match” and why there’s a huge emphasis on being “true to yourself” because belonging to oneself is a pretty empowering concept.
To belong is to fit in. To belong is to have a right to be a part of something. To belong is good. These kids don’t feel like they belong to anything. If they did, they’d feel accepted, loved, and special.
I know this is a concept I’ve struggled with as well. Where do I belong? For years, I have made my life overly busy to compensate for the quiet moments where I felt lonely, unloved, and unacceptable.
I know, now, that I do belong. I belong in the arms of Jesus. I belong in the presence of my Savior. I belong in the throne room of my sweet Father. I belong.
And so do you, whether you are a Christian or not. Where there is salvation, we belong. Where there is healing, we belong. Where there is provision, we belong. Where there is love, acceptance, joy, peace, and righteousness, we belong. You belong.
Even if you feel as if your sin has made you unworthy, even if you were the worst person the world had ever seen, even if you hated cats, you belong. Jesus came to bring mercy, love and forgiveness. He died to give you a place to belong. A home.
In Jeremiah 31:3, The Father is speaking to Jeremiah about the Israelites who had spent years disobeying God and isolating themselves. They had sinned and sinned again and at times refused to repent. The Lord said to Jeremiah about these sinful, rebellious people, “Yes, I have loved [them] with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn [them]. Again I will build [them], and [they] shall be rebuilt.”
He was saying, “Israelites, children, my loves, my love was not fleeting. It wasn’t a momentary impulse.”
He says that to us, today. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His love is not momentary. He is good.
“Okay cool, Sena. I’m so glad that now I know that I BELONG but what about my friends or my family members that don’t know THEY BELONG TOO? How do I show them?”
You tell them. You continuously show them that they belong when they are with you, not because of any power you have in your human, fleshy heart, but because Christ died to make a way for them to belong with Him. Be vocal. Tell those people that you love that THEY BELONG.
There is a place for you. It’s in the arms of Jesus. Tell others because they belong too.