Have you heard the phrase…Little Kids, Little Problems, Big Kids, Bigger Problems?
As a mom of five who currently has kids age 2 -12, I get this on a deeper level. I stand smack dab in the middle of raising my 5th toddler (hello fits over EVERY. SINGLE. THING) and trying REALLY hard not to end up with a “spoiled baby of the family,” 😉 while quickly approaching the teen years with my oldest. And though I know we haven’t even begun to dabble in the “bigger problems” teens and young adults face, I feel like we are on the brink of a shift in the family…from nights at home to nights away…meals around the table to meals hit or miss as we run this and that way…and time spent in a car and gyms vs. time spent playing on the floor in the living room.
I’m raising an odd tween who tells her mama EVERYTHING and let me tell you…I am HERE for it. I will listen with curiosity to every single thing she tells me b/c I don’t want her to stop telling me things. This is not in an “I want to be your best friend,” way, but in an “I want to be a mom you can trust and confide in.” I want to be a safe space. And I’m going to share probably the biggest truth that I am learning to speak not only over my own daughter but over girls and women in general…
You’re not meant to belong.
Wait…what? You read me right – You’re not meant to belong. If there is ONE thing that I see at the heart of SO many of our issues, especially regarding friendship, (I’m going to include us as grown women, because you know that we sure can struggle with this too), it’s the desire to BELONG. As younger girls, we want to fit in and BELONG, which means perhaps wearing a certain type of clothes (I’ve totally seen this with my daughter and her friends who all want to be wearing similar things), being in certain activities, being included in the group chat, being invited to a specific event, and ultimately wanting to have a specific group or even a best friend that can be relied upon, for better or worse.
As a 37-year-old woman, my heart’s desire is still to belong. I want to have close friends that I can count on to pray for me when I’m struggling, to do life with, to understand me, support me, and cheer me on. I no longer care about being a part of a specific (read popular) group…but I want to have “my people.” As an adult, I certainly have close girlfriends, but this has never been your typical group of 5 best friends who stick together like a clique. It’s not what I think I thought my adult life would look like. And I’d argue, though it isn’t neat and tidy…it’s better.
I’m not meant to belong. My almost 12-year-old daughter isn’t meant to belong. And neither are you. We ARE created for relationship (extrovert OR introvert), but our desire to BELONG to someone is meant to be filled by our Creator. The ONE who chose us…who calls us HIS kids…who swept us out of the ashes and crowned us with beauty…our desire to belong was meant to be filled by Him alone. People provide community…God provides true, perfect LOVE. A safe space. Faithful companionship. A trustworthy Friend who will NEVER fail you.
People will fail us. I’ve failed my kids. I’ve failed my friends. I’ve failed my husband. I’ve messed up in relationships and I can never be the perfect friend/mom/wife/daughter that I wish I could be. Thank goodness God didn’t create me to fulfill someone else’s need for belonging. I’m not created to give someone else identity in a relationship. That’s the Father’s Job.
When we are rooted in the Father’s LOVE, it’s THEN that we can love unconditionally in relationship. It’s then that, rather than striving for belonging, we can love those that are hard, unkind, left out, and lonely. When we are rooted in love, we no longer have to push our way to find love, but living IN love, we can pour out love instead. We GET to show the Father’s heart of love to others, not in a way of becoming their means to belonging, but mutually showing them the Heart the Father has for THEM as well.
When we live healthy, secure in the Father’s love, we can then point others to a healthy relationship with Him. When we are able to securely sit in Belonging with the Beloved, it won’t matter what our belonging is here on earth.
We are meant for community, but as an adult, I’ve found that community lies around every corner. I’ve realized that there is such abundance in relationships with women, and relationships are so much easier when I don’t have to strive to belong or depend on others to give me identity, but can instead pour into others from a place of already belonging. If I’m included…that’s so much fun. If I’m not, I already have a Father who will never leave me nor forsake me – He’s the absolute best.
It took me 37 years to learn this truth, and I’m hoping and praying that my daughters will learn it earlier than I did. They belong to Christ. Christ is the prize. Our desire to belong comes from our heart’s desire to be in relationship with HIM. And out of that love, we can freely love others without the burden of expecting to receive in return. Find a community that you can be yourself in. Find a community that you don’t have to prove yourself with. Find a community that loves you in your God-given design. But live in LOVE with the One who dusted you off and adopted you as His Own.