Belonging and the Call to Action
Belonging is a huge topic. It is one studied by historians, psychologists, sociologists, and each and every one of us. While we may not be looking at the tribal character of belonging, or the intrinsic need to “belong” in our lives, we all know about belonging from how it feels.
If we are included, we understand what to be “home” feels like. It is hard to describe, but often that warm feeling we get in our core gives us the assurance that we are loved and attached. This might be very deep, such as in a marriage or family situation, or in the “families” we create in our lives, at work, play and in various groups. Sometimes the relationships with friends and colleagues seem like they go deeper than the ones with our blood relatives; perhaps that has something to do with the ability to chose your friends.
The need for belonging is built into our DNA, we know how important it is to belong, and we can tell the difference between being included and being loved and accepted. The acceptance in any relationship shows our openness to one another. Our ability to be loved is often very much related to our willingness to show love.
Our desire to belong is, therefore, something that binds us all together. Belonging is both a desire and a need. We all want it; otherwise, we would be spending our lives rejecting others, not letting them into the inner circle of our soul, where our heartbeats and where God resides within us. While we all have our moments in rejecting others, sometimes unknowingly, a state of continued rejection is one of exhaustion. It is too much work to spend time being ornery to others, at least all of the time!
So while we want to be on the receiving end of love, acceptance, invitations, and all the “incoming” benefits of belonging, there is more to it than this. To really belong, we have also to take action. We cannot remain inert, sitting there like a sponge waiting for others to invite us to join. Jesus’s mission in teaching had him on the road, explaining, teaching, inviting, disputing and clashing with those who taught hatred and self-promotion, replacing it with the guidelines of loving God and one another in what we now know as the body of Christ. That’s us!
So perhaps this week we can consider those guidelines, clearly delineated in the beatitudes and supported by the Gifts of the Holy Spirit showered on us during Pentecost, we can make the connection ourselves. Are we really using those gifts as well as we could? The Church says, “All are welcome,” am I practicing this in my life? I know for myself, there are always ways where my belonging to a certain group also, in a subtle way, excludes and differentiates me from others. This is not what Jesus intended. Remember what we do to the least of our brothers and sisters, we do to Christ?
If we remember Christ in our belonging, we will be both grateful and mindful in our treatment of others. This is something I will try and keep on my heart.