Don’t we all long to belong?
We want to feel like we fit somewhere. That we have a place.
What we long for is community. We want to learn from each other without judgement. We want to be heard. To be understood. We want to know, we’re not in this life alone.
Some of the loneliest places can be found in women’s groups at church or in ministry settings. We all long for community and yet we can be our own worst enemies. We allow our insecurities to create barriers between us and our relationships stay in the shallow end of the pool.
After all, who wants feel like they are back in middle school?
Yet the reality is we can still live like we are. More often than we are willing to admit. It not called middle school anymore. It’s called:
Our natural tendency can be to avoid or limit our involvement in church and in our community because, let’s face it, if we don’t have to repeat middle school ~ who would choose to?
And yet, each of us has the innate desire to be known and to live in community with others. That is the allure of Facebook, the sense of connection, being known, being heard and being liked. Just the fact that Facebook is so popular reveals our intrinsic need for community.
We all want to feel significant to someone.
Yes, we all have our friends at all our planned functions and on social media. But it’s when we hear of our friends getting together outside of those planned functions, without us, that we assume ourselves to be the outsider. We feel like we’ve stepped back into the hallways of middle school.
At which point we downshift into a lower gear, relationally. We remind ourselves to avoid risking too much of our pride. We play it safe. Play it cool. And we tell ourselves we don’t really care. Arriving at the conclusion, that maybe I don’t really need community after all.
“If I pull back and seem indifferent, I won’t risk getting my feelings hurt.”
“Having my walls-up is safer and the ‘cool card’ to play.”
“It’s not worth looking like an idiot to put myself out there.”
“I’ve got family. So I don’t really need anyone else anyway.”
And yet, if we could see through transparent lenses I think we would see that we are not alone in how we feel. The truth is everyone feels lonely and insecure in different settings. You may be well-known in one circle but feel invisible in the next. We oscillate from extremes of feeling confident to feeling insecure.
Here’s the reality, and why Facebook isn’t enough. It’s not possible to be known well by many. You can be well known by many but not known well. Our capacity to be known well is far less than our capacity to be well known.
You may be someone who feels safer in a crowded room because it’s easier to shrink back and hide your true-self. Or you may be someone who feels safest at home away from people because you don’t have to risk feeling unknown.
So we keep busy with all our planned activities and social media because those are safer environments to try-on community. They are places where we don’t have to commit to buying. We get to window-shop community. Where it’s much easier and safer to stay on the outside looking in.
But what I’ve found is that our attendance and friendships by association will never be enough. You’re not known just simply because you attend something. Sure more people know your name and you may be genuinely liked by many. But it won’t satisfy, it will only pacify your longing to be known and belong.
What we aren’t able to see is that the choice of being known well is really up to us.
It’s up to You.
And up to Me.
We would much rather put that responsibility on others. Or bury that need in a multitude of surface relationships.
What’s missing is an invitation. And it’s not an invitation to another planned function.
And it’s not the invitation for you.
It’s an invitation from you.
You-see, we are all waiting around to be invited-in, so THEN we can experience true community.
And yet how can anyone know you or me, personally-on a deeper level, if we don’t let them in?
Until I invite someone-in, I can’t be fully known.
Sometimes we think of “The Invitation to Receive Christ” as something a pastor gives to his congregation.
But the invitation is not as much for the pastor to give his congregation, as it is for the individual to give Jesus.
I must invite Jesus into my life to be fully known by Him and to commit to living this life for Him, with Him. In communion with Him.
He’s been there all along, pursuing me. He already knows everything about me. And Yet He wants to be invited-in.
When I invite Jesus in, I’m saying I want to be fully known by You-Jesus and to be forgiven of everything You’ve seen and already know about me. I confess it even though You already know it. I’ll no longer put my walls-up and try to do life on my own. I’m willing to go where you go and even if I look like a fool.
Jesus ~ YOU satisfy my deepest longing.
To be Known ~ And to Belong.
To be Accepted ~ And Adopted.
To be Liked ~ And Loved.
To be Significant ~ And made Yours.
We were made for community. To commune with God and others.
In the context of the local church.
In small groups.
In women’s ministry.
In moms’ groups.
In Bible study.
What if we stopped waiting around to be invited-in and started looking for ways to invite-in others – Into OUR lives – into the deep end of the pool?
Not as a closed-circle but with an open heart and open handed.
We can be for each other when we take down our defensive-walls that give us a false sense of security. When we open our eyes to those around us and realize that we are all feeling the same way; that no woman is a immune from oscillating between confidence and insecurities. Let’s stop making false assumptions that we are the only ones who feel this way, isolating ourselves even more.
If we want to live in true community, we must do the inviting-in.
Let’s get after it.
Let’s not miss it.
And maybe we’ll discover our most treasured friendships on the other side.