Recently, I was asked to introduce a video that was created around the idea of Christian belonging. As I dug in, I found it exceedingly difficult to introduce this concept without sacrificing the depth of the topic for a more simplistic view like, “We all belong because God loves us. Kumbayah!” The more I read and looked into the topic the more solidified I became in my own definition. And here it is:
To me, belonging is a deep-rooted, emotional desire to engage and connect with others on an authentic, whole-hearted level that stems directly from a person’s ability to embrace their own self-worth.
It’s not a definition found in the dictionary, not even a definition likely held in majority opinion: this idea that belonging comes directly from our ability to recognize our own worth and to embrace it in a meaningful way. Still, I believe that through our own worthiness lies the key to belonging.
Famed author, speaker, professor, and presenter Brene Brown has dedicated almost 10 years of her life to studying vulnerability, shame, authenticity and courage. Out of her experience, she has this to say on the subject of belonging:
As I conducted my research interviews, I realized that only one thing separated the men and women who felt a deep sense of love and belonging from the people who seem to be struggling for it. That one thing is the belief in their own worthiness. It’s as simple and complicated as this:
If we want to fully experience love and belonging, we must believe that we are worthy of love and belonging.
The greatest challenge for most of us is believing that we are worthy now, right this minute. Worthiness doesn’t have prerequisites.
Here’s what is truly at the heart of whole-heartedness: Worthy now. Not if. Not when. We are worthy of love and belonging now. Right this minute. As is.
As Christians, we offer others a place of belonging in our church communities because Christ went first and said, “These people are worthy now. Not if they join. Not when they pledge. They are worthy of your love and belonging now. Right this minute. As is.”