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The Desire to Belong

“so in Christ we who are many form one body…” Romans 12:5 (NIV)

 

We are all familiar with it… the desire to belong. Even as adults, there is an urging within that says we would like to find that special group of friends.

Several years ago, before we joined our current church, we visited several churches. We were looking for the right fit for our family.  We had two young children at the time, so we answered a variety of questions from church members: Homeschool vs. public school. Breast feeding vs. formula. Working mother or Stay at home. It was as if we were being interviewed and unfortunately found lacking in a few areas. We are now settled at our current church and loving it. We don’t feel the pressures to cave to one social group and attribute that to the preaching. When you have a strong pastor leading the flock, it helps to keep such issues in perspective.

While praying about what to write for this blog, those memories came flooding back.  Now, I can laugh over some of the comments that originally left painful scars on my soul.  I wondered, who else has endured similar moments? How did they handle it? So, I asked a group of people who have become my friends online. I met most of them before my 9-year-old daughter was born.  I was thankful that they were willing to open up to me, because religion isn’t a topic easily discussed.

The overwhelming response to my message board post told me that this is a bigger issue than I realized.  These friends shared from their hearts and I was moved to pray for many.

I heard from a divorcee, who struggles with taking her children to church functions and not feeling like she has a place any longer. She will often drop them off and leave to avoid the awkward feeling. This is a woman who has a church home, she is involved, but no longer feels like she has a place among her friends.

How about a person who is married without children? They would love to have friendships with the other couples, but doesn’t know how to relate or start those friendships when the first question asked is, “Do you have kids?” When they answer, the families lose interest. It isn’t easy to form a friendship with someone in different life circumstances, but it also isn’t impossible. God can teach us so much through other people. We only have to look at the New Testament church for an example of how diversity can serve the church body as a whole.  Jesus used a variety of men and women from various backgrounds to start his ministry.

We are all children of God. We are members of one body. We only need to look down the pew on a Sunday morning to see a few of our own church members feeling they don’t belong.  How long will people continue to come, if they feel they don’t fit in?

We are not perfect people, we are sinners saved by grace. Let’s leave the plastic smiles at the door. Let’s be real and take a moment to reach out to those who need a friend. A divorcee who needs someone to sit with, a man looking for a friend to talk with, the list goes on. I heard from twenty different people, each with a story, a hurt, and a heart that needs healing. Some of them no longer attend church. Each of them needs to know that God hasn’t forgotten them, that the church body works better as a whole. We are individuals who God created for a greater purpose. One of those purposes is to serve Him. When we leave the church fellowship because of hurts, it not only hurts you, but also the church as a whole.

You can read this blog post, then move on to the next interesting thing to read online. Or we can pray for healing in our church body. Let’s take it one step farther, next time you are at church ask someone, “How can I pray for you this week?” Then, commit to praying for that person.

Pray for hearts to be opened and healed. That people within the church would see the need to repent and ask for the forgiveness for the wrongs they have done, and that those who have been offended would seek to return to the church. May His healing touch be felt in each of your lives today.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalms 147:3

 

Bio:

Stacey Zink lives in Houston, Texas with her husband, two children, and the goldfish that will never die. She enjoys reviewing books and sharing about life at: http://suburbanthoughts.wordpress.com/

9 thoughts on “The Desire to Belong”

  • Kimberly Vogel

    Excellent points! Church is the one place we "should" feel we belong but so so many don't feel that way. It's time to love like Jesus and open arms a little farther.

    Reply
  • Lisa Godfrees

    I, too, have goldfish that will never die.

    I enjoyed your post. I would like to think I'm not one of those people. It's easy to ask, what do you do for a living? or do you have kids? I don't mean anything by it, and divorced, unemployed, childless, none of it bothers me. But I've never wondered how the question might be perceived by a person who is one of those things.

    I'd be interested in the other responses you received as well. Any trends?

    Reply
  • Heidi

    What a great article! Thanks for sharing your thoughtful perspective.

    Reply
  • Jacque

    Great article Stacey! This is so very true. I have been to churches where people stick to themselves, don't reach out, don't care, even push you away for being different than them... and the hurt goes deep. I have also been to churches where the body of Christ is alive and well and it's a beautiful thing to be a part of. People reaching beyond the comfort level, beyond where the norm is, it's exactly what Jesus did and it is very good. Being in a new season I appreciate more than words can express people reaching out. A few weeks ago during prayer at church a lady put her hand on my shoulder. That simple gesture brought on a flood of tears. People are longing for a connection, to be seen and known. It reminded me that day that not only did a friend see me, God saw me. No matter our season, our time, or budget, we can all reach out to our neighbors and share the love of Christ. Thanks for the reminder. I hope this post is spread far and wide, many need to hear it.

    Reply
  • Shayla

    Thanks for posting this. This was convicting and encouraging.

    Reply
  • April

    Loved reading this Stacey. I especially connected with your suggestion of asking others, "how can I pray for you?" What a beautiful gift to offer others as well as ourselves all in the name of connecting with God and each other. Thank you for inspiring me!!

    Reply
  • Kimberly A. Vogel

    Thanks for sharing this message. We recently changed churches and now go to a church that lives this. We often say to each other - there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ. That helps to avoid judgement and to have an openness in sharing. The plastic smiles are usually called out. Love that I found a place to belong! We need to show Jesus to others by reaching arms to embrace others a little farther.

    Reply
  • Mary L Gessner

    This is an excellent blog, and the topic is one that has been on my heart for a very long time. I was a young widow and felt completely shut out of most of the "group" activities. If I may share one very short story. I had been widowed for less than three months (my husband had been a lay pastor of a small mission at the time of his death). I was left with no education, no money, no home (we had to move out of the parsonage...and I was charged rent until I could do so, then they declared the house uninhabitable and did a total makeover). I was also left with a 15 yr old son, and a 3 yr old daughter. I joined a new church and was asked to do "day care' at the church for a MOPs group of women so they could have a "day of rest." I was asked to help, I was told, because I had no husband to worry about coming home at night. And, yes, they new I was widowed, living in a tent (true story), and looking desperately for a place to call home. I was so wounded I left the church. I later learned I wasn't the only single mom to be treated in this way. The church was New Life Church in Colorado Springs, CO, under Ted Haggard. It's been a long, difficult road back to organized church.

    Reply
  • Janetta Messmer
    Janetta Messmer October 17, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Great article. Thought provoking and helpful. I'll be praying. Thanks for the loving reminder.

    Reply
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