Contentment, Relationship

Belonging: Understanding Where We Belong

Two girls holding hands

@JeanneTakenaka

For much of my life, I’ve tried to belong . . . somewhere. There was this deeper fear, that when it came down to it, I wouldn’t belong anywhere. So, I attempted to fit in everywhere . . . the popular group in high school, the swim team, various clubs, the “little sisters” of a fraternity in college, the choir for Sunday services. The singer-types on the worship team as a new wife.

But I couldn’t find my fit. I would reach out, but others wouldn’t reach back. And it only stepped on my childhood rejection wound.

Three ducks—two standing together and one looking like it's left out

In my mid-thirties, as I hit yet another blockade in the friendship-building/belonging department, I finally heard the words God was trying to speak through my thick skull.

“Be still and know that I am God. 

Be still and seek Me to know your identity, for belonging.

Let Me be enough for you.”

A bench sitting near a paving stone walkway with fall colors in the background

Those were some of the hardest words He’s spoken to me. I had allowed the fear of rejection—and the fear that I couldn’t connect with anyone—to drive me to try so hard to connect with everyone that I left no room to authentically connect with my Father.

I look back now and see that those places were not where I belonged. God had a perfect-for-me place, but I had to stop trying to make belonging happen on my own and start being still, trusting Him.

In time, as I learned to yield this craving to the Lord, He ministered to the broken places in my heart. He began healing a decades-old wound that still festered. 

Two giraffes standing close together

And, in time, He brought me deep friendships. Not lots, but a few women who are safe places for my heart. They accept me as I am, even with my insecurities. They love me and laugh with me and shared of themselves with me. 

God brought me to a place where I belonged.

One thing Kristen Strong said in a blog post I read recently was that, as much as we need to know where we belong, we also need to know where we don’t belong. 

Meme that says: "Our Father has created places where we can unload the pretenses and be genuine." with a backdrop of mosaic steps leading up to an arched entryway

Let’s face it…we can’t belong everywhere. We’re not God. But, He crafts unique relationships for each of his children. Our Father has created places where we can unload the pretenses and be genuine.

He has people in whom we can confide our deepest hurts, our fears, our secret dreams, and know that these things are safe with them. 

And, when my insecurities try to rise up and call me not enough, I need to evaluate from where they’re feeding. Sometimes, I begin to feel envious that I don’t belong in a group where a friend fits. 

Two cups of coffee with two different hands holding the handles

Belonging begins with understanding that we are God’s kids. We belong to Him as children to their parents. When we ignore this foundational relationship, no other relationship can contain the depth and the trust of genuine authenticity.

When we believe our Father’s words—that He loves and accepts us—a foundation is laid that enables us to connect with others with more peace. We stop striving and trying to force relationships, and we allow Him to guide us to the people He’s prepared for us.

Fall-colored flowers on a bush where there are flowers in all phases of growing, from bud to dead

God is showing me that when my insecurities crop up, it’s probably because I’m striving to belong somewhere He hasn’t prepared for me. I have to confess my striving—even my envy—to Him, and yield my heart to His good plans. It’s not always easy, but it’s always the better way.

God knows where each of our belonging places are. When we trust Him to lead us to those people, and to fully enter into relationship, we will find contentment where He places us. 

What about you? How have you navigated the struggle of wanting to belong? What has God taught you about this tender topic?

Click to Tweet: I had to stop trying to make belonging happen on my own and start being still, trusting Him

I’m linking up with #TellHisStory and #RaRaLinkup

34 thoughts on “Belonging: Understanding Where We Belong”

  1. I am now where I belong,
    in this place I’ve come to know,
    and I think have known for long,
    my fated Alamo.
    Each minute here brings delight,
    from sun unto the silver moon
    that rides in silence through the night
    and awaits my coming doom.
    Petition’d prayer has no real place
    within these fatal walls,
    and would, indeed, renounce the grace
    that comes before the fall.
    Have not dismay, and do not weep,
    for what hell’s sown Heaven will reap.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Andrew, this poem is beautiful. There is peace in knowing where we belong, even when it’s in terminal illness. There’s reassurance in knowing God’s walking with us through the most difficult seasons. Thank you for your transparency and words of hope, my friend.

      I’m praying for you.

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  2. Good morning Jeanne, oh how I can relate to your words. I still struggle with belonging, but God! In His grace, He keeps reminding me. Thank you for sharing. It is great comfort to me I am not alone as I lean further into my true place of belonging. In Christ, Julie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Julie, I’m so sorry this is a struggle you deal with too. I’m thankful our Father is gracious to us and loves us enough to re-direct our thoughts and hearts when they wander to places He hasn’t prepared for us. I’m rather comforted to know I’m not alone in this struggle as well. Thank you so much for stopping by!

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  3. I relate to a lot of your struggles about belonging. It is definitely easy to try to fit in and be accepted by others, but it is amazing to know God’s love for us and that he provides a place where we truly belong. Finding that security in him helps a lot.

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    1. You’re so right, Lesley. It’s amazing to know and experience God’s love for us. And I’m humbled when I stop to think about how the Lord has the perfect belonging places for each of His kids. Isn’t it amazing to know He covers even these details in our lives?

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  4. Recently, I found myself participating in a group filled with “young women”. I am 59 and am much older than most of the women in the group. At first, I felt like I didn’t belong. Then, God reminded me that we can all learn from each other. I pray the women learned from my life experience and I know those women taught me, too. 🙂 Feeling like we don’t belong can be a sad feeling. Remembering we do belong to God is a wonderful blessing.

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    1. Melissa, I can see how being the oldest woman in a group can feel awkward. I’m so glad that the Lord reminded you that you can all learn from each other. It seems like this would be true across many areas of our lives. 🙂 I imagine those younger women will learn a lot from you, my friend.

      You’re right, feeling like we don’t belong feels soul-deep sad. I’m so grateful we belong to a loving Father. Thank you so much for sharing a bit of you here!

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  5. Well, friend, this right here –>’There was this deeper fear, that when it came down to it, I wouldn’t belong anywhere.’

    Yes, I am resonating with where you’re coming from and saying ‘amen’ to what we’ve learned along the way. It hasn’t been an easy road, has it. But we know Whose we are. And that allows us to move ahead with peace and a holy confidence with something to offer others.

    You are a kindred spirit. I love being here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Linda, I believe we really are kindred spirits. 🙂 It seems that the roads that draw us deeper to the Lord and conform us more to the image of His Son are never easy roads. But, they are the paths that enable us to know Him more deeply and walk more closely with Him. Knowing Whose we are makes such a difference when we navigate human-level relationships, doesn’t it? Thank you so much for being here. You bless me deeply, friend.

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  6. Definitely have my ups and downs when it comes to belonging. Sometimes I’ve resisted the groups I’ve felt most like I belonged even, already having an idea of what groups I thought were better for me! haha! God’s taught me that my thinking isn’t always straight and my own insecurities make things up! So prayers to see the truth, and who to spend time with, where to cultivate and where to let go are constant. And honestly, just not to think so much! 🙂 I really enjoyed Lysa Terkuerst Study called Uninvited and Kelly Minter’s study on No Other God’s which both addressed this topic gently but boldly.

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    1. Lynn, I’ve done that “I’m sure this is the group I belong in” thing too. It’s a bit disheartening when my heart still doesn’t find satisfaction, or worse, when it becomes clear I was wrong about that being the group. In the past, I tried to fit into a group with wrong motives. I’m learning to step back and talk with the Lord and ask Him to test my heart before I try to fit into a group.

      I’ve heard good things about Uninvited. It’s good to hear you reference it. I know I need to read it…one of these days.

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  7. Jeanne,
    I have tried to forcibly fit a square peg in a round hole only to be disappointed and disheartened. For quite a few years I was a chronic joiner. I joined everything I could think of in an attempt to fit in somewhere. We can only chase that dream until exhaustion or until we come to the end of ourselves and realize that what we really need is to fit, in relationship, with the Lord. Seek Him first and all these things will be added unto you. I was putting the cart before the horse. It works much better by God’s design. Wonderful post!! So blessed to call you friend!
    Bev xx

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    1. Oh, Bev, I’ve done that too . . . tried to fit in where God didn’t want me to be. And yes! We need to fit, in relationship, with the Lord. I always appreciate your wisdom, my friend. Thank you for the gift of your friendship!

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  8. I can’t begin to tell you how much this resonates with me, Jeanne. The pain of those childhood rejections, the feeling that I don’t belong anywhere, and the blessing of belonging always in Jesus as His precious child. As I reread some of this and ruminated the truths in here, this one especially speaks hope to my heart:
    “Be still and know that I am God.
    Be still and seek Me to know your identity, for belonging.
    Let Me be enough for you.”
    I need that reminder each day. Satan knows our vulnerabilities so well, and sometimes his attacks can be relentless. Thank you so much for sharing the lessons God taught you in the midst of that not-belonging feeling. You have encouraged me and made me feel less alone in that battle. Love and blessings!

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    1. Trudy, I’m sorry you dealt with that childhood rejection. It frames the rest of our life’s interactions, doesn’t it? God has reminded me many times through the years that He is enough for me. When I forget that, I end up disappointed, and my insecurities’ voice becomes stronger. But, thank goodness our Father loves us and patiently reminds us of the truth that we belong to/with Him. Sending you a big hug, sweet friend!

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  9. Love your pictures! You are so right! We’ll never be really satisfied until we discover whose we are. Our Father loves us so much, and He desires to help us reach the places He designed for us.He knows our hearts and the hearts of those who match up with us. His choices for us are the best. ” Be still and know that I am God.” is one of my favorite Scriptures; it is so powerful! Love your posts!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Mom. I like what you said about how God knows our hearts and the hearts of those who match up with us. Love that picture. 🙂 I’m so thankful our Father claims us as His own, and loves us enough to create the right communities for us. Thanks for your encouragements! 🙂

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  10. Thanks so much for sharing this, Jeanne! I was just like you in school and college. I said yes and yes and yes because I could “fit in” anywhere, right? I was friendly and I would fit in. I tried way too hard. But after high school and college and all that trying was that I was exhausted and wished those small moments when I was still and God spoke where more a part of my story.

    I still wish that now looking back as a full-time working wife and mom. Life is too short and too precious for us to try to be someone else or please someone else. That’s hard to remember. Our worth and belonging is in God. He values us even when we fail constantly. He does not give up on us. He always provides us a place to fit in–with him. Thank for the wonderful reminder! I definitely get it. I’m in my early 30s now and still grappling with this truth because my flesh is weak.

    But thankfully he is strong and always reminds me who I am if by a blog post or a song (You Say by Lauren Daigle) or in a still small voice when we take a moment to breathe and listen. Much love to you, my dear writing friend!

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    1. Morgan, I’m sooo glad you stopped by! I imagine we both slammed up against the harsh reality, that, no, we couldn’t fit in anywhere. But, sometimes it’s in the hurt that we begin to really learn who God has created us to be. And as we walk through the painful lessons, we learn who He is in our lives, and how much He loves us. I loved what you said about how life is too short to try to be someone else or please others.

      And that song by Lauren Daigle? It’s one of my favorites. Thank you for sharing a piece of your heart, sweet writing friend!

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  11. Identity is a powerful force that either leads us closer to God or farther away from Him. I know I spent part of my life moving away from God thinking I knew and could take care of myself. We share this bond over looking for our identity. Isn’t it amazing to know we need look no further than God for who we are?

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    1. Mary, we do share this heart-theme. My biggest thing has been trying to come to terms with who God’s made me to be and who I wanted to be/thought I should be. When these two learn to live together in my heart I am a much happier person. 🙂 I am so thankful we need look no further than the Lord for who we are!

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  12. I love this so much, Jeanne. Because I relate to every word. I’ve never thought about it before, but it’s true how all throughout my life, I tried to make belonging happen on my own. With this built-in need to belong somewhere and to someone, it makes sense our flesh gets it all wrong and makes us think we have the power to do this ourselves. And I’m sure my personality lends itself to hoping everyone would like me and accept me with open arms. Oh, but how much the Lord wants us to know we already belong to Him and His family. The best part is He is always waiting with open arms to accept us just how we are. Thank you for this eye-opening post!

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    1. Karen, I’ve been surprised by the number of people I’m discovering have shared this struggle of trying to figure out where they belong in their own strength. I guess I’m glad I’m not alone in this struggle, but it makes me sad that so many of us deal with/have dealt with this struggle. And I had to smile when you talked about our flesh getting it all wrong and figuring it out in our own strength. I’m so thankful we already have a place where we belong: with our Father. What a comfort and confidence-building truth that is! Thank you so much for sharing a bit about yourself and your wisdom!

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  13. I almost feel embarrassed to admit I still struggle with this – way too much. These truths you share – I know…but, apparently, more in my head than in my heart. I often find myself on yet another search for where I belong. You are right, I think my striving is getting in the way. And making it hard for Christ to fill my heart’s desires first. Thank you for wonderful words to ponder – and take to heart.

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    1. Jennifer, there’s no shame here. I, too, still struggle with this at times. I think it takes time for truth to move from the knowing in our minds to the embracing in our hearts. Peace seems to come when we stop striving, doesn’t it? May we both be intentional about seeking Jesus first. I so appreciate you!

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  14. Thank you so much for sharing. As I stepped into a different decade this year, I found the beauty of caring a little less. By no means have I overcome the desire to fit in, but as I grow in Christ, I see many more facets of Him and see how I could never live up to any earthly expectation. THANK YOU for reminding me of this today! What a blessing you are!

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    1. Heidi, there is something that changes in us as we age. I think, in part, we become more comfortable with who we are . . . the beauty and the warts. It does seem like, as we seek to grow closer with Him, we both understand Him better and place less value on those earthly expectations. Thank you for being an encourager in this place, my friend.

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  15. Oh Jeanne, I’ve been there, trying to force relationships and making myself fit or conform to what I see in the people around me. Ugh. What a burden that is, and how freeing to finally realize God made us the way we are for His own specific reasons. I love the insight that there are places God never intended for us to belong. Beautiful post, my friend … truly, your writing is speaking to my heart so much these days. 🙂

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    1. Lois, I’m so thankful we always belong to the Lord, and that is enough. It truly freeing when we understand this. It’s kind of amazing how God created each of with specific giftings and purposes. I always appreciate your words, my friend.

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