Looking to belong
We all need companionship in our journey through life. How can we open our hearts and lives to others who are looking to belong?
Five years ago we pulled into a small town in our rattly red sedan, not knowing a single person.
I spent that first year living long days in our blue carpeted rental, desperately trying to feel at home. To find my people. To reach out. To be known and understood. To build relationships and connect. To love and be loved.
My heart ached to have face-to-face conversations that went beyond the polite, “How are you?” I would push the shopping cart through the aisles and hope to lock eyes with a familiar face. Library story time was spent scanning the room for a kind smile. I longed for an invitation for a cup of coffee—and I don’t even drink the stuff.
All I wanted was to belong.
Not belonging is hard. Lonely. Overwhelming.
And it’s humbling. Especially for a girl who had spent her entire life surrounded by dear friends. Never the new girl, never the outsider. Now I was the outsider.
Until I wasn’t.
I’m ever grateful for the way the Lord drew me to himself during that time of loneliness. I’m thankful for the way he brought the women into my life who invited me along. The ones who called and e-mailed, the ones who said, “I’ll meet you there!” and “Come with! It will be fun.” The people who love me and my family. The ladies who offered up their friendship with open arms and the dearest hearts. This outsider now feels like she belongs.
Now I’m the one reaching out to others.
On a bit of a whim a few years ago, I started a weekly moms’ group at our church. I wondered if anyone would show up or if it would be me, all alone, twiddling my thumbs. It turned out to be a mixed bag of sorts—some weeks there would be a large group and other weeks it would be me and one other mom. Either way, on Thursday mornings, the doors were always wide open with possibility.
One morning brought a gal with long blonde hair and kind eyes. She was new to the group and new to town. We chatted and laughed and swapped stories for two hours while our kiddos played at our feet. When she left, she thanked me again and again for hosting the group. “I’ve been searching for something like this. You made my day,” she said. I knew exactly what she meant.
With my little guy in elementary school now, I’ve uncovered new ways to include and befriend. But for years I kept showing up for the moms’ group and reaching out. Because someone might have come. And it might’ve just been their ticket to belonging.
What now? I encourage you to take that first step. Pray for God to show you your part in building friendships and including others. Share your smile freely. Shine your light. Seek someone out and wave that new face over to sit with you. Compliment her pretty scarf or something else. Ask questions and listen. Meet for coffee or a coke and then linger as you lean into the story she shares. Link arms with her and smile knowing you are both loved something fierce by the One who was generous enough to shed blood for you both and create friendship and community.
There is always someone looking to belong.
And there is room enough for everyone.
Rachel Olson is a member at Shepherd of the Bay, Lusby, Maryland.
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Author: Rachel Olson
Volume 103, Number 5
Issue: May 2016
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