Sunday, October 11, 2015

31Days - Not Belonging

I went walking in the woods near our home last week. The path where I entered had a no trespassing sign posted. I knew, though, that my family had been allowed to walk the woods for years. We know the family that owns it. As I meandered along the paths, I noticed a large tree with a name and year carved into it. The carving was very large and very clear. I imagined some high school boy making his mark on the world. It was a large tree, growing straight towards the sky. As I passed it, I glanced back. What I saw made me turn from the path to walk around the tree to take a better look. There were other names carved in that tree. Several, actually. Some of them had been there so many years that they weren't really legible. Each name had a year carved as well. I thought I could maybe make out dates in the 60's. I thought some might have been even been older than that, but I wasn't sure. They had all been there quite some time. Then I saw the name of the neighbor who had allowed us to use these woods. As I studied the tree, my perspective changed. I began to see this stately, old tree as a family marker of sorts. I don't know whether the dates were birth dates or graduation dates, or some other significant date, but now instead of a stealthy teenager I was envisioning a family history. The names on that tree marked family and a significant passage. It surprised me to realize I felt a small twinge of sadness. While I had freedom of walking these woods, I had no right to have my name on the tree. I was allowed in. But I didn't really belong.

It surprised me, because I do have my own family and a strong sense of belonging within it. I grew up with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins all mixing together at holidays. I knew I belonged. But I also remember standing in my high school cafeteria, looking for that spot at the edge of a group with a friend I knew. Allowed on the outskirts, maybe. But not really belonging. Just trying to look like maybe I did....

Even today, years after leaving those awkward high school days behind, I have to admit that those fears and feelings still remain as I walk into any gathering.

So my fear for Day Eleven:

I am afraid of not belonging.

That's the fear. And there's some truth in the fear. It's hard feeling on the outskirts, feeling like you don't belong. It's not a pleasant place to be. But what's the real Truth? Truth with a capital T?

... you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.
(1 Corinthians 3:23)

We belong to the King!

It's kind of interesting that the scripture that says most clearly that we belong, is one that speaks of divided loyalties within the church. The Corinthians were dealing with factions within the body. Some were saying, "I am of Paul"; others were claiming "I am of Apollos." Paul answers their conflict with this:

So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.
(1 Corinthians 3:21-23)

In other words, "Quit worrying about what group you belong to. You belong to Christ. And through that you belong to God." My sense of worth should not be based on what group I belong to, but that I belong to Christ.

And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise.
(Galatians 3:29)

We are also Abraham's descendants – with the history and promises that are his.

I have friends with adopted children. Those children now have the history of their adoptive families. Those stories become theirs. We are also grafted into the family of Abraham. Not only do we share in all the promises to Abraham, but we share in the rich history of God's chosen people.

Okay. I get it. I shouldn't worry about what group I may or may not belong to. I belong to Christ. I even, in a way, belong to Abraham. But... if I'm honest... I still have a desire for belonging, for fellowship. I think God honors that, though. He actually designed us that way:

Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness...."
(Genesis 1:26)

We have trouble wrapping our minds around the trinity – three in one – but whether we understand it or not, the reality is that He created us in "Our" image. We may say "His" image, but scripture is clearly plural. He says "Let Us" and "Our image." He's talking with Himself. No, He doesn't have a multiple personality disorder. But He is simply three in one. He had fellowship with Himself. We are made to reflect Him. We are made for relationship. In case there was any doubt:

Then the Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him."
(Genesis 2:18)

We are made for relationship.

John acknowledges it here:

...but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
(1 John 1:7)

If we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another.

But... I'm walking in the Light... I'm a Christian... and I still struggle with feeling like I belong. But here's the deal: if I'm honest with myself, I have to admit that part of it is my fault. I don't want to make the first move. (Uh oh – there's the fear from Day 4 popping up). I walk into a church, maybe even a Sunday school room. I sit. I listen. I may answer a question or two; say good morning to a couple of people, even make small talk over my cup of hot chocolate before class begins. But listen to what Luke writes in Acts:

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
(Acts 2:42)

They devoted themselves to fellowship.

Am I devoted to fellowship, or am I devoted to attendance? Ouch. That hurts. I'm devoted to the apostle's teaching. But if I am honest, I have to admit that I am more devoted to attendance than I am to actual fellowship. Deep down, I want it. But I want it to come to me. I don't actively pursue it. But I need to do more than just want it. I need to do more than pursue it, even. I need to be devoted to it. Strong's dictionary defines the Greek word translated "devoted" as: "to be earnest towards; to persevere, be constantly diligent." That sounds like more than saying just good morning to the person in the pew next to me. Sigh. I think I've got some work to do. Matter of fact, I think I'd better go back and read Day 4 to myself again!

Abba... Daddy... it's so easy for me to stand on the outskirts, feeling like I don't belong. Help me to grasp the truth that I belong to You. The King of kings, the God of the universe, has said I belong to Him! That is my greatest need for relationship. Still, You made us for relationship with others. You placed that longing in our hearts. But, Daddy, I still struggle with being the first to reach out. I want fellowship to come to me. Help me reach beyond myself... to become devoted to more than teaching and attendance but to You and to others. Help me to live as You live – in fellowship.

Fear: I am afraid of being not belonging.


  • We belong to the King! (1 Corinthians 3:23)
  • We are also Abraham's descendents – with the history and promises that are his. (Galatians 3:29)
  • We are made for relationship. (Genesis 1:16; Genesis 2:18)
  • If we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another. (1 John 1:7)
  • We need to devote ourselves to fellowship. (Acts 2:42)


Note: This post is part of a 31-day writing challenge. Click here to see the rest of the posts on my 31 Days of Fear (and Truth).


  1. Thank you for sharing your heart and mind. It is such a blessing to me. . I believe that you have found an important ministry that God is using. .31 days is only the start!

    1. Thanks, Brenda! :) It's sometimes tough when it feels like only a handful of people are reading... and when facebook fights me getting it out there so much. The encouragement and feedback is greatly appreciated! :)