Longing for Belonging
I feel unsettled this morning. There is no particular reason it seems, but as I sit with this angst it arises in me the notion that my deep needs for belonging are not being met very well.
In my career years belonging meant being on the team, and for me that meant playing my roles on the team well and being affirmed in those roles and affirming others in their roles. I wanted to fit in, and did that by taking on responsibilities and executing them as well as I could. This applied to my job, my church life, the various organizations to which I belonged, and sadly even in my family to some extent. This is how I found my identity.
But in leaving these structures behind over the past decade, this sense of belonging was left behind as well. At first this didn’t bother me. Why? Because belonging in this “fitting in” way is superficial at best and did not answer my deepest longings for belonging. So I did not miss what was not really satisfying me anyway.
For many years I got along this way, but as life continues my deeper longing to belong, to connect, is coming more to the surface and demanding my attention. I think this morning I somewhat panicked in realizing the depth of my longing to belong. I am thankful for the gift of this beautiful problem because it brings with it the awareness that something is amiss in my life, in this case something pretty big.
Of course true belonging is a heart matter, not a head matter. It requires that I let go of my identification with roles and simply connect from the heart. Easy to say this intellectually, but my heart-felt self is still struggling with this need to open up and connect with other hearts.
What blocks this? Fear. I know how to relate and belong in my old superficial way, and while that now feels shallow, it is at least something. If I give up this superficial way of relating there may be nothing there to replace it. This act of giving up my “fitting in” way of relating, connecting, and belonging would be like jumping off a cliff into the unknown. Experientially I do not allow myself to know much of this heart-connecting space, so dare I trust that it, whatever “it” is, will be there as I jump, and trust that it will be infinitely more real and joyful than the superficial fitting in way of belonging I have practiced my entire life?
Just being able to frame my longing and needs this way helps. Let me see what unfolds from my heart as this process of opening up continues on all fronts. I realize there is nothing I can do in this space to make my heart open, rather just have the courage to allow my heart to open in the way it has wanted to all along. It may happen over years, or in an instant, or come and go. We’ll see.