What is my biggest fear besides death and taxes? Not belonging.
I heard a sermon once on the importance of community. The priest started talking about how he had been ostracized by his family and friends because he was different. He talked about the pain of trying to understand why he was different. Hadn’t God created him this way?
He ran away from home and ended up living on the streets until he was found by a priest who reassured him that God loves what God has made and therefore he was loved by God. Years later, he became a priest in order to pass that message of love and acceptance along.
Imagine having feelings as a child and telling the people you love most in the world how you feel and having them be horrified.
People feel most comfortable around people like themselves. We may say we celebrate diversity but diversity is challenging. Whether it is race, gender identification, sexual preference or fill in the blank, it can be hard to be accepting when we don’t understand or we can’t relate.
One of my son’s friends came out as non binary and uses the pronoun “they”. I had a hard time remembering to use the pronoun. It sounded incorrect because I thought of they as a plural pronoun rather than a pronoun for an individual. However after spending time with them, I had a better understanding of why “they, them” was a good choice.
I’ve always felt like I belonged. I have family, a church community, and other groups. I have never been ostracized or shunned for my identity. I can’t imagine what that would be like. Don’t we all have a need to be accepted and loved?
One of the many reasons I’m Christian is because Jesus was so accepting and reached out to those who were ostracized and shunned. He spoke with people that no one would speak to or touch.
We have a lot of labels that we use today to let others know who belongs and who doesn’t. If you are from the opposite political party then you don’t belong, if your skin is a different color than mine than you don’t belong, and if you are LGBTQ, then you don’t belong. This is NOT what Jesus told us about the kingdom of God. In the kingdom, everyone belongs.
We all know people who may be feeling ostracized or shunned for any number of reasons. We need to keep reaching out and reassuring them.
Do not fear, you will always belong.