“I will call those who were not my people, ‘My people,’ and I will call her who was unloved,‘My beloved.’”Romans 9:25 NET
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one!”” C.S. Lewis
Being a Christian means we belong. We belong to one another. We belong to a king. We have a Wonderful Counselor. We have grace and freedom. We have connection. We have love. We change.
My whole being was rejecting the daily mundane duties the other day. My mind drifted off to high school. Mind you, I haven’t thought about high school in years. They were extremely painful times of dramatic parents, dramatic me and no connection or belonging. Someday I’ll share that. Why visit this time? Because there was a spot of joy. This spot of joy had been neglected for many, many years.
A sweet, shy, handsome Greek boy entered my mind. There isn’t even one celebrity that could compare to this young Greek! My heart filled when I thought of him, back to art class in my senior year. The class was an hour I relished because of this deep, open, fun Greek student with which I shared a table. We shared so many things besides a table. He lost his mom at an early age. His parents emigrated from Greece. He felt awkward around girls. I shared my turbulent upbringing. How I hated liver and onions. Most of all we laughed at silly things. Our guard was down and we were authentic with each other. We winked at each other. We flirted. We laughed at our art projects that failed. Teased. I couldn’t believe girls weren’t stalking him! What a vibrant, caring, fun and lovely human being. We belonged.
Work and a personal crisis cancelled my art class. We lost touch. Something very rare slipped away. He was very shy. I was very distressed at that point in my life with responsibilities and utter confusion. We were no more.
Then he died. Age 18 years. He took his life. That permanent decision for a temporary problem. Belonging? Was that the issue? Belonging is as crucial to life as breathing. He didn’t want to breathe anymore. Of course, I wished I’d phoned him, shared more, gave him a caring note. Shock! What ifs are devastating and hard to ignore.
I prayed about him and gave him to my father who loves this young man more than I did or do. I trust my father with him. Jesus died for him. He belonged and didn’t know it. May I be more aware of belonging for myself and others. I hope I see him again.
Belonging. Our father created us to belong. It’s as critical as our heartbeat. May we be brave enough to say, “What, you too? I thought I was the only one.” Slowing down and embracing what is and who is may prevent tragedy and enrich lives. Jesus invites us to his table. “Come! Eat and drink without cost.” We belong. There’s always room at his table.
Thank you for the gift of belonging. Help us to reach out and be present. We don’t always know which soul needs a gentle touch, an authentic, listening ear or a warm embrace—belonging. The daily challenges sometimes blind us to what is truly essential for another and for our own souls. Jesus invited everyone to his banquet. May we do the same.