Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.Psalm 100:3
Birth– the moment our infant body breaks through the fleshy barrier and we take our first breath. It is in that sacred moment that we begin a lifelong search. Though we can catch glimpses of what we are so desperately longing for in this life, we never fully realize it until we arrive at the other side.
BELONGING. Acceptance. To be fully known. To find a home. It is everyone’s deepest desire. It’s what pushes people up the ladder of success. It causes others to fall into the devastating trap of drugs. Or to stay in a destructive gang. It’s what drives the desire for relationship. What lies behind the marriage vows “I belong fully to you.” It’s what orphans and street kids are so hungry for. It is what we, humanity, are searching for.
We yearn for it every waking moment of our lives. Though we can be driven in all the wrong directions, and go searching in all the wrong places. We desire to belong, because we were created to belong. We, human beings, were made to experience the deepest depths of intimacy. This longing ultimately drives us back to our Heavenly Father because that is the only place we can find our true home.
Culture and Belonging
I have been pondering this past week the crossing of cultures. What I mean by that is the pulling up of a person from everything familiar and dropping them (often head first) into a culture that they don’t understand. As several of you may know, maybe only in part, a total change of environment is not easy. Where you once felt at home, you are now surrounded by people so different from you. Not only in appearance, but even in thought processes and the way they view the world. A language you don’t understand and for a long time won’t. All the little differences will not allow you to easily forget… you don’t belong here. You are misunderstood.
As time goes on (lots of it!) understanding does come. The language is understood. Things are normal to you. Maybe you still can’t do everything in local fashion, but you get them, and they get you. After a lengthy season of adapting and many many mistakes you find a place. A new home. A new normal. Your heritage doesn’t change, but your heart does.
You laugh now that you are still known as the “white girl” by those outside of your circle (because those inside know your name and would never call you that). Your passport is still blue. Jokes still go over your head occasionally. You still make trips “home” to a far away place to see your family who you now live a world apart from. Yet this new environment feels like home.
At your first “home” where everything was once familiar there are many things that now seem strange. New fads and lingo, stores and streets, and just stuff that you aren’t familiar with. Air conditioning is now your enemy. Each time requires a re-adjusting period. Again, you don’t know your place. You have changed so much and home has too.
This is the tension of cross cultural missionaries and workers. Loving two cultures but never able to fully belonging to either. It’s hard. It makes that longing more real. No matter how you try, your two worlds never fully unite. So you live somewhere in between. Unable to settle fully in one place, always feeling that a piece of you has stayed behind. There can be a great sense of loneliness, often that is what drives people off of the field.
We were created to belong.
Belonging and Marriage
Marriage is to be the most accurate picture of our ultimate belonging to Christ. It is where the sweetest intimacy is found on this earth. Yet even marriage, in all it’s beauty, is just a taste of what is to come for those who are Christ’s. This, I admit, is hard to fathom! All the small glimpses of belonging we feel in life are meant to drive us, not to seek our place, but to realize it. Because we are Christ’s and it is to Him and in Him that we fully belong. The Lord says “I, your Maker, am your husband”, “You are my bride, I am the bridegroom”, “I have formed you, I have called you by name, you are mine”.
Location is no more than our earthly dwelling. This is what frees me to struggle in Haiti. To readjust and readjust again every trip back to the US. It is okay to be misunderstood here. It’s okay to be kept uncomfortable. It’s okay to answer the question of home with “oh you know, here and there.” Because I belong to the Father. My ultimate home is with Him– regardless of whether or not I find a place of total belonging here. Or whether I can ever say of a single place, all that I love is right here.
Belonging in Him
Maybe you, like myself, find yourself longing in this season. Longing for home while you are stuck somewhere else. Longing for everything to return to normal so you can get back to those things that fill your void. It is in His presence, only, that belonging is found because it is to Him that we belong. (Colossians 1:16; Job 33:4; Galatians 3:13). No other place is a substitute.
I think this is a huge lesson the Lord is teaching us right now.
The earth is not our home. Our citizenship is not of this world. All that is here is passing away. If our treasures are of flesh, they too will pass away. What will be left?
With Christ we shall all be united, around his throne, in perfect unity.
With Christ we shall all be fully satisfied to the depths of our being.
With Christ we truly belong, and we have always belonged.
Though I was meant to be passing through Missouri I am kept here for now by the lockdowns, but ultimately God in His sovereignty is using this time. I am working. (Thankfully landscaping is counted as an essential job!) I am serving my family, quilting and sketching plans for our future home, creating Creole homeschool papers and emailing them to Haiti in an effort to help (in a small way) the tremendous efforts being made to keep students on track with learning amid lockdown. (Yay GSA! Yay Kellie Hurt!) And I am taking time for prayer and journaling. This time with my family has been good, especially for my younger siblings who miss me a lot when I am away.
God is good, despite the constant changing of my plans. He keeps me clinging. He keeps me from planning too far ahead. I am taking the days as they come. I am ready whenever He opens the door to return to Haiti, to continue the work I am involved in there. But I also know, whether here or there, surrounded or lonely, my place of belonging is in Him. And He is “the Lord, my God, who will be with me wherever I go.”
Take heart wherever you find yourself in this moment, knowing, that even here, He is good. Knowing that we are here to have relationship with the Father and shine a light in the darkness. Knowing that this earth is not our home, and our belonging is with Him.