i belong

The plane pulls into the cavernous terminal, which by the time I manhandle my hand luggage up 2 flights of stairs is almost empty.  It is over 30 more minutes of walking and stairs, trains, lifts and empty corridors before I even reach passport control.  The very halls echo loneliness.  The spartan space screams isolation.  I left the warmth of family to be here biting back tears at the vast expanse of cement and tile and nothing.  I fight the incredible urge to decide I definitively do not belong at all in this place before I even find the baggage claim.

But isn’t that a heart cry inside of all of us as we travel, especially through the spartan spaces and seasons of life, to find where we belong?

I pick up my bag from the moving belt and am quite the sight.  Disheveled hair, backpack, cabin bag, suitcase all draped over crutches and arms barely fitting through the door trying desperately to smile without my lip quivering.  I am a seasoned traveler I chide myself.  I should not be reacting like this.  GET a GRIP Michele- you live in a war zone.  You certainly can handle an unfriendly airport.

I half fall through the exit doors into the arrival hall and I see hope. The first friendly, smiling face I have seen since touching down almost hour ago.  What a difference a smile makes.  A greeting.  Warmth.  A hug.  To be welcomed into the land you are visiting.  To not be treated as a foreigner but as family waiting to be found.

The knots in my neck loosen ever so slightly.  I smile back and will the tears brimming at the edges of my eyelids to stay put.  But in joy they spill anyway.

So what about you?  Have you ever felt the echoes of loneliness; the heart ache of wanting to belong, be accepted, be welcomed, be seen, be valued?  There truly is One Who walks even hollow hallways and empty expanses closer to us than the air we breathe.

As part of my whirlwind travels through North America in the next six weeks, I am really honored to journeying to Pennsylvania to attend a gathering of women writers and bloggers  put on by an amazing community of women for women known as (In)Courage.  They are committed to genuine connection online and (in)RealLife…  Committed to being the warm smile and safe embrace waiting when you burst forth into the arrival’s hall longing to belong after a long walk alone.

If you are stopping by here today from Mandy’s blog, please feel especially welcome.  I hope you might decide to stay awhile and even join this journey on the unpaved road into His heart.  The journeys that matter most always start deep inside of us.

As part of the celebration leading up to Relevant,  the kind folks at DaySpring have allowed me to choose a free gift to give away from their lovely selections here!  In blog-world this bit is called a giveaway.  We have never done one of those here before!  I am pretty excited.  Learning lots from the ladies over at incourage already.

If you know me, you know how much I love jewelry and I have a little bit of a thing for the metaphorical truths of planting our roots in heaven and bearing fruit on earth.

I loved this little set of jewelry from DaySpring and so it is my joy to offer it to one reader as a gift.  In order to enter the contest, simply tell us where you most feel like you belong in the comments of this post (which just for this giveaway will be on for commenting between now and Oct 31 when the contest ends.)

I will contact our lucky winner directly after she (or he) is drawn at random from those who enter to find out the important details so DaySpring can send on this special set of jewelry.

And now I have the honor of introducing Mary DeMuth, one of the other eight sponsorship winners for Relevant 2011.  She is a woman filled with insight and is living an amazing adventure with Jesus.  She is a prolific writer (12 books) including recent releases The Muir Place, You Can Raise Courageous and Confident Kids, and her memoir Thin Places.

Mary is a wife and mom, has planted a church in France, travels and speaks and shares amazing practical insight on her website pertaining to writing and publishing.   But at the core of her message is a poignant call to authenticity and wholeness, letting those her words touch and her life impacts know Jesus is real and active and is available to heal, restore and renew your life today.

I sure hope you will pay her a visit, get to know her a bit and be as blessed as I have been by meeting her.   You can also follow Mary’s journey on Facebook and Twitter.

33 thoughts on “i belong

  1. I honestly feel like I most belong in a theatre, on the stage. I have been an actor for a good part of my life, and though I try to fit in other places, – that is where I feel most at home – where I feel I truly belong!

  2. the place i feel that i belong is in my youth group. At school i feel different because i go to church, and especially because my mom is a pastor. A lot of kids in my school go to church, but because the are forced to. I love god and i am not afraid to show my christian roots, but at school, or parties, or any social event i feel out of place. But when i am in my youth group i feel part of group. i feel like i belong.

  3. Hello Michelle – I will have another long email to you I promise!

    Anyways I am still following you around and I love every minute of it. God truly speaks to you in my daily life.

    Where do I feel like I belong? – You see I haven’t been to church for a month now and last week I went. I thought I was going to feel out of place but in fact I felt like I was coming home again!

  4. As an MK from (and now a missionary to) the country of Chile, I used to say this is where I felt most at home. But after a lifetime of transitions with my husband and our five precious children (God’s beautiful blessings through the miracle of adoption) I can truly say it is wherever the seven of us are together.

  5. I am soooo delighted to have run into you on the shuttle today!! You’re a true hero. Praying you have a wonderful time at Relevant and that we get to talk some more. And that’s some beauti jewelry! 🙂

  6. LOVE…this post.

    I most feel that I belong when I am with my best girlfriends. Women who know me (good, bad and very ugly) and love me…encourage me up and out of my hole all while keeping my feet on the ground. When they are with me, no matter when I am, I am me.

  7. What a wonderful, heartfelt post. What a deep blessing to find another that muses on such similar things. I am also an American that is living abroad for Kingdom purposes, and I too find my heart longing deeply for a sense of belonging. I am reminded almost daily that I’m not a local where I live, and now I find that I don’t really feel like a local when I visit my home country either. Where *do* I sense I belong? With those that know me, see my glory and my warts, and welcome me. I feel so richly blessed that the Lord has provided such companions on the journey both where I live now, and among those in my home country that have tracked with me all these years away. And I love having the chance to experience viscerally what it means to be aliens and strangers in this world, and rejoice to be a citizen of heaven.

  8. I belong at home….with my husband and our children. That is not only where God has called me Biblically but where He has blessed me so much my heart overflows.

    bamagv at aol dot com

  9. Belonging is something I am really struggling with right now. I belong with my husband and family. When I go to church I don’t feel like I belong and I try to reach out. It is something very heavy on my heart right now. Sweet Blessings!

  10. I felt like I belonged in the mountains of Colorado. I felt like I belonged when women in college translated the love of Christ to me in tangible, meaningful, real-life, meet-me-at-my-point-of-greatest-need love. I felt like I belonged when friends invited me into their home to stay and said, “you can make this a home base if you need to.” I felt like I belonged when others brought me into their home and greeted me at the door, warmly hugged me, offered me food and drink, and brought me not only into their physical space, but their social and emotional space as well. I felt like I belonged when friends called to pray for me before I traveled across oceans to serve, and when the same friends picked me up at the airport on my return. I have felt like I belonged when a culture of hospitality, community, and love prompts people to extend themselves where there is need. I feel like I belong when I am alone with God in nature, sitting and reflecting, or actively experiencing it through hiking, skiing, mountain-biking, or climbing. I feel like I belong when people recognize my gifts and encourage their growth. I feel like I belong when I am expressing myself artistically before Abba. I feel like I most belong when I get to extend acts of tangible love to Jesus in disguise (in the poor, the naked, the lonely, the imprisoned..). I feel like I belong when I can love and minister to others and it is received and allowed to bear fruit. I feel at home in obedience to Jesus’ love. I feel like I belong where there is LOVE. xoxo

  11. Hi Michele, SO loved your beautifully written, inspired book, “Love Has A Face” … I literally couldn’t put it down and was disappointed when I came to the last page…looking so forward to your next one! You are an inspiration to us all and are such a living example of the Father’s love. Through your words, I can SEE & FEEL God’s love is such a real, tangible way…thank you for that.
    I feel I most belong when I am out alone, in my “wanderins,” with my camera, capturing God’s beauty to share with others. This is where I feel connection and purpose.

  12. In worship. That’s where I belong. I belong buried in His Heart, with hands lifted high, voice ringing out. I’m convinced that my heavenly career will include shadowing Jesus, filling the air space with words, movement, love. Yes, yes… I feel most at home when my worship song rings out.


  13. I feel like I only really belong when I am in the heart of God… everywhere else I feel an alien… unconnected… Only the Father truly knows and understands me. Only the Father fully accepts me. It is only in Him and with Him, that I know my purpose and my potential. I fully belong where I am fully invited.

  14. Where I belong is less about the place and more about the people…I feel like I belong the most with children, especially those who for some reason or other need some extra loving.

  15. Michelle your post today rang so true to me. Being citizens of heaven, earth can never feel like home. But, to answer your question, I was initially going to say I feel most at home when I’m with my fellow christian sojourners. But, I recently had an experience where God lead me to Teri, a homeless man who is an alcoholic. Sitting next to him and listening to his story and holding his hands while I prayed for him, while rush hour traffic passed by, I have never felt more at home.

    All is Grace,

  16. I feel most at home when I’m in my bed, all snugly- reading or meditating upon God’s Word, and then He speaks to me personally from what I’m studying. I just know right then that He’s got me, I’m His and He’s right with me.

  17. When I stood in front of a high school classroom in VT,I felt as though I belonged. When lived in an adobe house in a Mayan village, I felt as though I belonged there.Now I sit in front of a computer and feel like that’s where I belong. As long as I have sunshine, and as long as I KNOW the Lord is involved where I am, I feel like I belong. PS Love reading about where you feel you belong in that faraway land.

  18. Recently, I received the gift of belonging when I visited a new home group in the inner-city of Jacksonville, AKA Springfield! Springfield is a multicultural setting which includes folks as diverse as you find anywhere, and includes a dynamic University Teaching Hospital and treatment center. While awaiting my next assignment abroad, it seemed that my heart had found a home where my gifts were welcome and encouraged. It seemed that I was not an old person any longer, but rather a “Deborah” of sorts who was accepted with open arms by those who dedicatedly sought out higher levels of walking with God. Ah…….relief….sweet relief from stifling churches lacking in thirst and unity beyond their own immediate needs. Since receiving missionary training some 20 years ago and having served in many capacities since then here in the states, I find that there is nothing like being under the right kind of leadership to grow. The Holy Spirit is our guide, but He gives us folks with flesh on along the way to encourage us to persevere in the “high calling” of serving God. Specifically, for me, that would be discipleship, missionary sending and healing prayer in both the sending out and returning…..encouraging others to be proactive in getting healed so that God can use them in the manner they are called to be used. My little baby blog is called Missionary Heart on Facebook and it is just that…..reflections of a Jesus follower who wants everyone to be free of the chains that bind and experience missions in whatever way God says at any given time.

  19. I don’t know if this is the right place to enter your give away, but here goes anyway. Right now I know that I am in a place of preparation, and so it isn’t where I was made for. I know that my destination will be different because I was created for that place, my very purpose was to arrive in that place and then simply breathe, and in doing so the very air that I breathe will bring about the transformation that I was made to bring to this place; Heaven coming to Earth! But right now is my preparing time, birthing time. And just by definition that denotes a time of stretching, changing, and the old being made new. As I stand in the lonely halls of this training time though, I know that I am not alone, that the very One who made me for this time is standing in these halls with me. He of all people knows how hard it is to be in transition. But knowing that He is on this “moving sidewalk” with me, and that friends like Michelle and many others are also somewhere “down these halls” too gives me the strength and encouragement daily to stay the course:)

  20. Where Do I Belong?

    My heart is restless…filled up, bubbling over. What to do next…what to do? I feel torn apart with angst…Should I be settled and secure…or actually “go for it”? Jump in with both feet and see where it takes me? Or do I more seriously consider finances, health insurance, retirement? Do I wait? And then risk poor health, someone else’s illness..circumstances that would limit possibilities? Is this a selfish desire….this that tugs at my very soul? Or are You nudging me? Pushing me? Inspiring me?
    What is it I want? I want to make a difference. I want my life to count for more than a string of mistakes. Is it not enough to care for the dying..right here? Right now? And is that somehow quietly changing? Is there a turn in the path? A new path? Please…oh please…dont suggest I failed to walk this path correctly…that I failed…again!
    The crucial question for me is…could I leave my grandchildren? And , in doing so, do I risk losing relationship with them? My four precious, beautiful …absolutely perfect grandchildren.How could I bear the separation?
    Is the “difference making” supposed to be here…in my own country? If so do I move on from this job? Do I plant myself with each of my children for periods of time? My dear friend suggests I wait for that….and that while I am able I should explore, experience, enjoy my wild dreams.
    What is it God? I am restless to know.
    Maybe it is not the whole “grand plan” that I need to know. Maybe peeks and tastes are enough…until it unrolls into the completed product..picture…map.
    Perhaps a trip with a portion of my family is the next peek…the next puzzle piece to place. And if there were no more pieces to place after that, I suspect it would be more than enough. The thought of introducing them, my family,  to what stirs my heart…to “together” experience life somewhere far away, remote. To touch, feel and live poverty, pain and sheer survival..and to still see joy filled faces, bright eyes and dancing bodies in that place…together. What would that be like? How wonderful would that be?
    Somehow I am less restless in the writing…in the speaking to You….imagining the peeks and tastes…without the gnawing need for planning, comtemplating, considering the “whole” plan, the detail…the “rest of the story.”
    And what are my wild dreams? Africa…it seems. Always Africa. I dream of the clinics in the slums of Kibera. The never ending need to treat cholera, malaria, HIV…and so much more. I dream of hospice there…serving, visiting those with Cancer and HIV…easing the pain in those last months, weeks, days, hours….minutes. I dream of school in Uganda that houses precious creations of Yours. Those innocent children who have been raped, beaten, tortured and starved…by corrupt soldiers…for their own evil use. It is a home, a sanctuary, a healing place for those hurt children. I dream of refugee camps…full beyond that fences erected to hold them…a holding place for those with disease, with loss, displaced, abandoned. The outcome of famine….and no water to drink.
    The visions pour through my brain and seep into my heart. What to do? And does one older woman’s wild dreams matter? Make a difference?
    Oh restless heart!
    You have broken my heart for what breaks Yours…now..please, I beg You, show me what to do with it.”

    1. Wow Debbi, I just read your beautiful post…OH how your heart touched mine! To be able to write with such passion for what you feel inside, it must only be the Holy Spirit leading and guiding you…I went through that angst for 2 years with my husband, living in a place we had been our whole lives, working jobs that were safe and predictable (my own practice as a nutritionist and my husband’s job of coaching) We felt the stirrings years back but only received a true calling to GO 2 years back. We struggled with all the same things you mentioned…health, family, etc. (we are both 50 and I have had health issues my whole life) We both came to realize that we could angst over it all we wanted, but we came to realize that we needed to take it one day at a time. To step out in a way that we felt led and if doors opened, we walked through them…if not, we stayed put. It was a much more peaceful way to live and really helped us connect with God, rather than our own emotions and plans. I’m happy to say in this day to day journey, we both quit our jobs, let go of our mortgage/home, left the family and came here to Oahu where we felt God’s leading. We are living a very simple life and taking each day, giving it to God and alllowing Him to open doors for ministry and healing. Come visit us at our blog: missionpossible40.blogspot.com
      Blessings and praying for God’s divine purpose in your life to be fulfilled!

  21. As the wife, at 47, of a new pastor, our family has been through so many changes in the past five years that it’s hard to keep track. The Lord has used the many changes to anchor my heart firmly in Him, rather than in zip codes, belongings, friends, or even family. I am so thankful that I am never alone in this journey! I belong *in Him.*

    I love your blog, Michele! Thanks for sharing your heart so transparently! Be blessed ~Sidne

  22. Where do I most feel I belong? Hmmmm, I think when I think of nature, rolling hills, blue skies, a river flowing by, a gentle breeze with leaves russling above… ahhhhh…I feel soo connected to God I could burst. I believe I long for Eden and the incredible beauty of all He is and all He creates. Funny thing is that same feeling of connectedness and absolute joy is found in the receiving of a smile from a child. Just something about that connection. Pure. Beautiful. Dare I say HOLY 🙂 . God is awesome and I am so glad I am HIS and He has blessed me with HOME in my heart. Someday, someday 😉

  23. Michele, I definitely had to come over here just because you have the comments on! 🙂 I’m glad you made it in safely.

    Where I most belong…? It might sound corny, but wherever my husband is. He is my biggest fan and makes me feel so confident. He knows the little signals that I am getting anxious (even if nobody else can tell) and soothes it over. I’ve found that I can accomplish exponentially more of whatever I’m doing when my husband is near. I’ve only been married 4.5 years (and didn’t marry until age 37) and I’m finding all the things that people talked about but never expected to happen to me. What a gift from God – my very own cheerleader! So I don’t know if that was where I most belong as much as who I most belong with. 🙂

    Hope you are well. Good to see a post from you. Didn’t know how much I missed them till I saw it in my inbox!

  24. Dear Michele..wish I could have been at the airport to help you drag along your baggage and to give you a big hug! Your book has been such a blessing to me- and to my Mom who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma 5 months ago (she is also a Pastor’s wife-my daddy 🙂 )I went up one night around 11pm to read the passage about your friend receiving a new spine to my precious parents!!! God is no respecter of persons!! We prayed the same for Momma!

    So, to answer your question..where do I feel most safe? In a little country church where I have been a member all of my life- 43 years!! Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is peace…may you feel His peace about you today..blessings from PA, Becky J.

  25. Michele,

    You are so near Him!
    I Have always enjoyed your writings…ink descriptions of what is etched within the linings of your heart.

  26. Michelle- love your blog post- always so encouraging (will you be coming to WA aging on this tour?)

    Where I feel like I most belong: in the center of God’s will or surrounded by my amazing family or at the International House of Prayer (Kansas City)

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