Belonging is experiencing “hospitality,” “community,” “being at home”, “feeling safe and welcome.” Belonging is the joy and safe place we create around us. “….each member belongs to all the others…practice hospitality.” Romans 12: 5, 13
1. Jesus experiences belonging during his baptism. “I am your Father, you are my son, I love you. You belong.” The Trinity is a picture of belonging. Each member of the Trinity belongs to the other members. Father loves the Son, Jesus loves Father and reveals Father’s love. Father sends Holy Spirit who enables us to call God Father and reminds us we belong.
2. We experience belonging though Jesus’ presence with us (Immanuel) when we receive Jesus’ love, delight in us, glad to be with us. Holy Spirit affirms our identity as beloved sons and daughters of our dear Father always near to us..Romans 8:15
3. God designed us to create belonging which is joy we we share around us. Joy is the sense that we are glad to be together. Being “present” with others means we are tracking with their feelings. “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.,” Romans 12:15 We are designed by God to create belonging. We are glad to be together with one another.
4. Joy is what happens in your brain when someone is glad to be with you. Jim Wilder, author of Joyful Journey, RARE leadership, Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You. “Joy is that sparkle in your eye, that moment when your face lights up and softens in response to someone else’s smile!. Joy is a neurological response to someone else being glad to be with you and when you are glad to be with them! Dopamine is naturally and BEST produced this way!” Being joyful and happy may happen together but are not the same.
5. Jesus creates belonging all the time, e.g. for the apostle John and Mary, Zacchaeus, Peter and He promises a safe to belong which he is preparing for us in heaven. John 14.
6. Normally we think belonging is what people give us instead of what we create around us. I create belonging with The Trinity when I pray, “I belong to Jesus, Holy Spirit, my dear Father always near.”
7. The weak create belonging for the strong whenever we receive from one another. Strangers create belonging. The Samaritan woman, an outsider, creates belonging for her town.
8. We create belonging, the joy we create around us, whenever we….
- love with vulnerability, sharing our weakness
- touch with honor and compassion
- smile whenever we greet those we love and use sincere voice tones
- ask questions that invite others to tell us truthfully how they are doing
- express empathy which validates whatever the person is feeling and the size of the emotion, rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”
- say, “I am glad to be with you.” when someone asks “How are you?”
- Pass the peace (shalom) (1) I feel grateful. (2) I open my heart and listen to God until I feel peace.(3) I notice what gave me peace, and what shifted in my body. (4) tell someone.
- Express appreciation
9. “Strangers Create Belonging” Identify the ways my daughter Anne and three Somali refugees create belonging for one another. See her recent FB post below.
“My family has been offering temporary housing to three Somali refugees (mother and daughters ages 11 and 14) for the past two weeks, and I want to tell you about it. I really started out just thinking I could be a “cultural navigator”. Because I wanted to do something and because Cuong (my husband) was a refugee, and because the commitment was only a few hours a week for eight months. When I brought up the idea to Cuong he said, “Do you realize what we are getting ourselves into?” I responded, “Well, it’s not like they will be living with us!”
Fast forward three months I found myself saying yes to having room in our house. Right after I said yes, I was not at all sure. But Anne Lamott popped up on my Facebook feed, saying: “You cannot help but love and be loved. You might as well give up on shutting down, staying armored or buttressed, refusing to be part of this love thing, because it is going to win. Trust me on this. You are doomed.”
So I accepted my doom. There have been many miracles since their arrival. Help, in all forms. The magic of seeing snow for the first time. The amount of hysterical laughter over Oregon’s puffy coats, indoor cats, rocking chairs, and my pronunciation of Somali words. The excitement of baking a cake together and the peacefulness of getting henna done. And I am so happy that these simple joys fill our days after everything this family has been through.”
But my absolute favorite interactions have been learning from each other in the kitchen and sitting down together for meals. After a few days of tentatively eating from each other’s courses, I came home to a fully set table, with food on the stove, and a note saying, “Eat that food!” My eyes filled with tears because I have heard so many saying that there is not enough to go around. Here was evidence of generosity beyond the limitations of what this family had to give. It brought back a lesson from my childhood, about loaves and fishes, and how when we show up with a little it is readily turned into abundance. I am certainly richer today.”