My mother grew up on a farm in northern Michigan. I still have one aunt and several cousins who live near the farm, and last weekend my mom and I went up north to visit my Aunt Mary.During my childhood, we regularly traveled to the farm to help out. Even as a young child, I was assigned chores; gathering eggs was my favorite.
There is no work to do on the farm now—no animals to tend and the fields are rented out for farming.
During this trip, a cousin and his wife stopped by one evening, and one day we visited the cemetery where my dad and many relatives are buried. Mostly, though, my mom, my aunt and I spent the time catching up.
My aunt asked if I was happy that I had moved home. I said yes! No hesitation. I told her I have no regrets about moving back and that I love regular get-togethers with my siblings, being here for every family occasion and my random encounters with my cousins. The transition was difficult, I told her, but so worth it.A few days after that trip, a friend and I were talking about belonging. He is in transition and pondering where he wants to live—a place where he has a sense of belonging is important to him.
I shared how grateful I am to be home and how living here has made me more aware that this is where I belong.
“Did you feel a sense of not belonging during the years you lived away?” he asked.
I did not. When I lived away from family, I felt a strong connection with friends who share my beliefs and values.
My sense of belonging to my family, though, is by birth, and since I cannot be un-born, I always feel connected to my family.
In the same way that my birth made me a part my family, being baptized into my church secured my belonging there.
Birth and baptism created irrevocable bonds, and I have never questioned those bonds. In the sense that I can’t be unborn or unbaptized, I have always had a “they can’t kick me out” attitude.
The deepest of all connections for me, though, is my God connection. Even before birth and baptism, I belonged to God, and belonging to God has sustained me through many difficulties.As I reflected on where I belong, I realized that those who share my beliefs and values get me in a way my family sometimes doesn’t; and that because of our shared culture and history, my family gets me in a way my friends sometimes don’t.
I am blessed to come from a God who sustains me, belong to a family that loves and accepts me and have friends who support and encourage me.
Driving up north and turning off the highway and onto the dirt road to my grandparents’ farm was a reminder of how fortunate I am to know where I belong.