My senior year in high school I stood in a hot gym in Southside, Alabama with my mother and three brothers. It was the first day of school, and our first day at THIS school. I had the usual butterflies in my stomach and anxiety about the next few days. How long would it take before I belonged? Luckily, in this small 1-12 grade school I became the 38th senior. Such a small class made it easy to learn names and faces. And my biggest surprise was when Johnny Calhoun shouted my name across a classroom! We were in 7th grade together at another school, so I suddenly had a friend.
On a warm day in October I walked up the steps of Fort Payne High with my dad – first day of my freshman year. I had just transferred from a large junior high in which 9th graders were the top dogs. Now I was at the bottom of a new school. And I wasn’t just a new girl; I was the preacher’s daughter of one of the larger churches. Plenty of uncertainty that day — was I wearing the right clothes? Did they wear loafers with socks or without? Should my hair flip up or turn under?
First days in a new school happened at every grade for me, beginning at Kindergarten all the way to 9th grade. I knew about not belonging.
I learned how to be invisible those first few days – watching, listening, learning. Every school and every class had a different feel. I learned to fit in first – not the same as belonging.
Belonging came later when I made friends, found a place to be the real me. Sometimes it was easier than others.
This moving from school to school, city to city, or sometimes state to state was my life growing up. I have three younger brothers, and each of us reacted and adjusted differently to these frequent moves. The brother 18 months younger than I was the only one who experienced the same moves that I did. He struggled with the whole idea of “home” being a movable place.
One of the ways I learned to adjust followed me even through frequent moves in the early years of marriage. Books were reliable and constant friends, so I located the public library soon after each move.
I’ve been reading Brene Brown‘s books recently and find she has a lot to say about Belonging. It is interesting to hear her perspective from researching hundreds of people and listening to their stories about connection and disconnection.
She states that we are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to
- be loved
The interesting dilemma she found is that our sense of Belonging is only as great as our level of self-acceptance.
Which leads me to this connection in Scripture:
How can I love others as myself if I don’t love myself?
This opens up a huge topic to consider, in fact I’m speaking to the women at church on Wednesday night, and this is my topic:
You. Are. Enough.
Let’s continue this conversation next Monday. Today I’ve cracked open a door to a deep subject.
I am thankful for finding Belonging with some prayer warriors in several Bible studies as well as with five Sisters you can read about here.