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  • Writer's pictureJohn Whitehead

The Longing to Belong

There are many times in life when we become aware of our need for others. This need can weigh us down and create loneliness, despair, and discouragement.

For many of us, we remember the first time we took the risk of letting someone know how you felt about them. Your palms may have been sweaty, and you might have had butterflies in the pit of your stomach as you waited with anticipation for their response.

Then, what you feared the most happened, they did not feel the same way about you. The pain and embarrassment of such rejection is difficult. It can literally stay with us our entire life.

This is because, from the very beginning, we are all searching for relationships.

As children, the feeling of excitement when making a new friend was as high as the crushing feeling of rejection was low.

This search continues throughout our lives, and it does not change as we age. In fact, our life is a sequence of events affording us the opportunity to interact with others. These interactions help us to develop who we are as a person.

All of this is directly related to our desire to know and be known, and in each instance, points to our “longing to belong”.

This occurs because we have been created by a relational God for relationship.

Even the most ardent, anti-social person among us shares this desire to belong. Conversely, when left unmet, this longing can express itself in hurt and pain which can lead to anger, frustration and lashing out at others.

Our reaction to being unaccepted or excluded is a direct result of our “longing to belong”.

You may think, I do not like a lot of people. Or I prefer to be known by a few and would rather not be known by the rest. Though this may be where you are most comfortable, it does not negate your desire to belong and the longing that comes with that desire.

This reaffirms the fact we are constantly searching for relationships.

This “longing to belong” can not only be seen in our search for relationships with people, but it can also be seen in our search for God. You see, this longing has been built into our hearts and will lead us to search until we find both.

Solomon reminds us in Ecclesiastes, “God has placed eternity in the hearts of men”.

This is why, it is so difficult and hurtful when we feel like we are on the outside looking in.

So, the next time you feel your search for God is leading you nowhere or you have had enough of people and the problems they can bring to your life; remember, to satisfy our need for acceptance we must learn to accept one another.

To find God, we just need to lift our eyes and see He is available to us through Jesus, and He has been with us all along!

Psalms 121:1-2, “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

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