Faith, Belonging, and Community

It is no secret that I have struggled with being in relationship and community with others. I have struggled with myself, God, my family of origin, my children, friends, co-workers, acquaintances. Relationships have never been my strong suit.

It has been a lifelong struggle to feel like I belonged somewhere, anywhere.

The primary relationship I had with my mother was difficult and detached. I now understand that it was her own attachment and depression issues that created the emotional and psychological distance between us. Being disconnected from my mother, not having my father, continually moving and changing schools every year or two, and then no longer having any relationship with my mother and being under the guardianship of my uncle whose relationship skills and relationships with all of us around him were impaired and dysfunctional, meant that from a very early age and going all the way through adolescence, there was no relational tether to any one person or community that taught me I belonged.

I became the girl who tried too hard, stood too close, interrupted, talked too much, always had the answer, reacted too easily, and eventually acted out my pain by either getting too physical or using my words and intellect to establish dominance and superiority. When the going got tough, I got going and let go of the people who should have and could have been my strongest supporters because I believed that no matter how hard I worked, no matter what I tried – rescuing, fixing, having the answers, being the problem solver – it was never going to be enough to fit in. I didn’t fit in with the rebels and screw-ups because I wanted to do good and be better. I didn’t fit in with the achievers and winners because I was too guarded and unable to believe in my own worth and value.

I’ve spent the last 20+ years trying to be accepted, be loved, and be included. All the while, the things I tried to make it happen just fell short and I pushed away and let go of those who wanted to be there for me. I chased after the relationships with those who I thought would accept me because of the value I could be to them. Meanwhile, the critical relationships with my children and other family members were neglected and damaged in ways similar to how mine had been damaged by the adults in charge of me. None of whom were any more available or capable emotionally and psychologically than I have been.

The ENTIRE time, there has been One who has chased me down in so many ways, with so many faces, time, after time, after time to convey to me that I am loved, I am known, I am accepted, I am understood, and I belong.

Marc Shelske, the pastor of Bridge City Community Church, has been doing a teaching series on Ephesians and I have had the privilege of being present the past two weeks to hear his insights in person. Thankfully, when I need to revisit and recall what was shared, these messages can be found on the Bridge City Media YouTube channel.

Last week he talked about the fact that Zombies are biblical concepts and not just a current entertainment trend. It was very enlightening and a good reminder of things I’ve known intellectually, but never internalized on a personal level. This was the “before” picture of how I have operated with my lack of personal understanding and acceptance of God’s grace and mercy for me, in my life.

He continued the conversation this week and spoke about the “after” picture. What he described was exactly what has been happening inside of me, in my life, and in my relationships over the course of the past year and a half or so.

“As we get closer to God, we have the capacity to get closer to other people.” ~ Marc Schelske, 5/18/13, Bridge City Community Church

I was “saved” when I was 8 years old. I’ve been being “saved” my whole life. I’ll be 44 next month and I’m just now internalizing that being “saved” isn’t about not doing wrong or doing good, but it’s about God’s absolute acceptance and love for me because I am His creation, and that creation is not static, but an ongoing work of art, displaying and revealing the character and nature of God, the artist.

As I have allowed these realizations and understandings to sink into my being, without me having to work and strive through my own efforts, God has been closer to me, naturally and organically. As I have grown in my ability to just accept that God is with me and present in every aspect of my life, no matter what, my ability to connect and reconnect in relationship with others has been improving.

I started with the internet and the online communities available here in the blogosphere and on Facebook, with people who didn’t know me or my past who I felt safe exposing my self and my truths to. Slowly, others who have known me and shown me they care and want to be in relationship with me have gotten to know this part of my identity.

The lines are now blurred and I am fully engaged in supportive online communities which include people I see and engage with in person, in significant and meaningful ways. It is also increasing my connection to others who sincerely care, accept, and include me as part of their community, simply because I accept that I belong, I AM because GOD IS.

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9 comments

      1. Well, there is a lot I could expound on. I’ll just choose one phrase. You write –

        “The ENTIRE time, there has been One who has chased me down in so many ways, with so many faces, time, after time, after time to convey to me that I am loved, I am known, I am accepted, I am understood, and I belong.”

        So many of us waste so much time, talent, and money trying to earn our way into heaven by doing the right things, saying the right prayers, worshiping at the right church. When we finally collapse from the effort (and hit rock bottom), we discover God was, as you put it, chasing after us all along.

        This is not to say faith involves no work (“faith without works is dead”). But the work of faith is not to earn God’s love, it is to express our gratitude to the one who loves us no matter how paltry our faith, no matter how miniscule our works.

        Keep up the thoughtful reflections.

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        1. Tony,
          Thank you so much for responding and sharing that. I have known, intellectually, for a very long time that all my efforts were vain and empty. I was so overwhelmed with so many things and focusing on all the wrong things. I’m very grateful for the promise and the understanding I now have that NOTHING separates me from God’s love, even when I feel/think/act as if it does and I am separated.

          Blessings,
          Kina

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  1. I had an Epiphany some years ago that either all of us are sons and daughters of God, or none of us are. It’s helped me considerably with my own spirituality. I don’t adhere to any particular religious tenants, but knowing that everything is part of the whole makes life a little easier.

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    1. Kagi,
      I’ve discovered a lot of new and relatable bloggers using the Related Articles feature in the post editing section. I like being able to see where and how my thoughts and writing intersect with others’. Thank you for following the ping back and visiting .

      Blessings,
      Kina

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      1. Ahh, that is a good point. 🙂 Thanks, I will keep that in mind in the future, as that is something I enjoy also. We all have a unique perspective to share, though I am writing mostly to process things for myself; I write better when I’m writing fiction, I think. Thanks for following, I’ll look forward to your posts.

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