A Boat? What is that doing there? I wondered this as I walked by a skiff nestled behind some pine trees in the yard of a home I passed by on my walk. Throughout the remaining 3miles of my walk I pondered the boat. What was it doing there? It didn’t belong! I am in the suburbs of Denver!
I thought the words, “it didn’t belong” as I listened to the sound track of Dear Evan Hansen, a broadway musical I’ve recently fallen in love with, and there was a collision.
As humans we long to be seen, to matter, to belong. Yet, every single one of us carries a secret. It is the exact same secret, though it comes in many various forms, but the secret remains the same. I do not belong.
I am a woman, in certain circles that causes me to feel like I do not measure up and I do not belong.
I am not thin, in some places that too can cause me feelings of being missed or not really seen, or that I do not belong.
I am single, yep, that too… a thing that in some places creates feelings of not belonging.
I really love Jesus, I really love people of various faiths, sexual orientations, and vastly different political views… even my love for these things can conjure up feelings of not belonging.
I tend to think through things from various perspectives and in layers, sometimes the way I think makes me feel like I don’t quite belong.
I don’t make a lot of money to some and I make a lot of money to others, this too, can be a place of feeling as though I do not belong.
The books I read or don’t read, the TV shows I like, how I spend my free time, my past, my family, the stories I don’t speak of, the love for beauty, the ability to sit and be captivated by falling leaves or cry at commercials, my complete appreciation for Hallmark movies, the travel I’ve done, the way I spend my money, the music I like and the movies I am drawn to all are places where I could find myself in a place of not belonging.
The truth is, we each have a list. The very thing that causes us to feel as though we do not belong, is the very thing that assures us we do. The thing is, we are beautifully and vastly different in the most astounding ways and when we seek to belong and thus have our value affirmed and a place to call home through all that makes us individually unique, we miss out. What if belonging came out of love for one another, not just affinity or agreement with? What if we were able to offer ourselves as we are and welcome the person in front of us, whomever they happen to be, without transaction or agreement, but simply because it is one human being standing in front of another human being seeking to belong.
My world view comes out of a deep belief in a God who loves me as I am, so much so that He came to earth in human form out of love for the sake of love for people. This was not because we had everything in common, nor is it because he agrees with every view point of every human being, but it comes from a deep deep love for what He created and called good.
Our world needs a new narrative, one where we are not constantly pointing out the boat out of the water, the things that seemingly don’t belong, but a narrative where we see the difference, the thing seemingly out of place, and we get curious about it. A narrative where every human life has a story so good and tragic, full of loneliness and desire, hope and love, that we are compelled to know one another’s stories and are equally compelled to love the person telling it.
Try it out. Next time you notice something different or someone who is not like you, get curious, lean in, and see if in your disagreement or lack of understanding you might find belonging in your humanity rather than your experience or opinion and then offer the same kindness you’d like to receive from them.