Belong What does it mean to belong?

We all have this inherent need to belong… to something… to someone – to be loved, to be appreciated, to fit in. It’s why people are so drawn to gym memberships, clubs, friend circles in middle and high school, in mom groups, sororities, sports teams, gangs, and even churches. We have in our hearts a need to be a part of something greater. Unfortunately, this need is often met with disappointment, when we don’t feel like we fit, when we don’t think we are pretty enough, smart enough, skinny enough, cool enough… or just enough in general. Sometimes we put this pressure on ourselves; other times, we feel like that pressure is coming in from the outside and we’re a raw egg, about to break at any moment. I’ve felt this way more than a few times in my life, but the most recent time was life-changing.

I stood alone, in a sea of gorgeous, flowing blonde hair, fake leather pants, hipster jeans, and waves of self-loathing. I was at a women’s conference in North Carolina as a leader in my church; and, the other women there were stunningly beautiful. I swear they looked like models and spoke like angels. There I stood with my black hair, tattoos, and curvy body wearing all-black and wondering why I ever signed up. I certainly was not qualified to lead by these standards. I told myself, I had no place behind-the-scenes in ministry, much less on a stage, no credentials, no business being a leader, and no hope at ever making a difference.

I found myself not good enough, not young enough, not pretty enough, not skinny enough, not rich enough, and not blonde enough to belong. I sat throughout the conference quietly and listened. I prayed and cried silently through the worship sets, asking God, “Why am I here?” It was in that moment, I heard the word, belong. As clear as if I said it to you right now. I have only heard God speak audibly to me twice. This was one of those times. I wrote down the word in my journal, and there was this spark. In a moment, God broke my heart, not for myself, but for the girls around me. I realized there are so many women like me in the world that don’t feel like they belong.

Women who have real lives, fake friends and family, and hurtful relationships that have found themselves like Moses mumbling and stuttering over the fire of the burning bush, doubtful of the purpose God has on their life. Girls who don’t feel like they even belong in a church, nevertheless, claim theselves as a writer for the King, speaker for the King, a creative for the church, a leader of people, or a worshipper in the court and fellowship of angels. Our lives have been riddled with abuse, divorce, and a lot of hurts, yet we find ourselves in this crazy place of being a wife, keeping small humans alive, functioning at school or at work, being a friend, leading in the Church, wondering what is the glue keeping this together?

I was back at home for months and had dreams that kept me awake at night, still doubting what God was telling me to do. Even now, I wonder if I am enough. Here’s the thing though, when we are broken from the outside – circumstances we can’t control and labels we place on ourselves – like a raw egg, we break and it feels life-ending. But, also like an egg, when we’re broken from the inside, life begins. We peck our way out of the shell and life is brand new.

Sweet friend, God makes every broken thing beautiful, that no matter whether you fit in or not, your story matters; your story can change lives and so can mine. I write this first blog as an introduction to this new thing. I’m writing a book titled, “Belong.” So, here we go. Come with me into this burning bush as I stumble, unaware of my footing or my language or if the color of my hair is right, if I’m skinny enough or smart enough, this is my journey; I invite you on this path with me. Together we will see that regardless how dark our past, our hair follicles, or our skin, how big our jeans are, or whether we like “tattoos and Edgar Allen Poe” or “butterflies and cardigans tied-in-a-knot”, hope is in our future, and found in our present, and we are always better together. #YouBelong

Father, I pray over every women, every girl, every person reading these words, that they are empowered to their “new thing.” That You remind us that we are daughters of the King. That regardless of our past, our present, or even things we do tomorrow, that we belong – not to the world and it’s labels – but to You. Remind us that true belonging can never be greater than our own self-acceptance. When we show our real, authentic and imperfect selves to the world, our stories change lives. God, I lift every beautiful lady reading this post up to You, that you bless them with Your favor, Your hope, and empowerment like only Your Presence can provide. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Dawn Sutherland

misfit-writer-speaker & social-justice-wannabe. I wander, but I'm not lost. I love Jesus not religion. My heart's cry is for every person to feel an empowered sense that they belong, and that we get to face the world wild and equipped with the love and hope of Jesus. I live in Suffolk, Virginia with my amazing husband, Louis and have four awesome kids: Katie, Ronnie, Selah, and Sami. I am also a passionate fitness instructor at the Suffolk YMCA. Subscribe to the blog, and stay tuned in for the book YOU BELONG to be published soon, which will talk about our desire as women to "fit in" and how we can harness that to change the world!