You Are Loved and You Belong
“When it feels like something’s missing
If it hurts but you can’t find healing”
I went to church today. I have not attended a church service in a very long time and I was nervous. As I approached the front door a woman introduced herself to me and handed me a brochure for the service. Asking for directions to the sanctuary, I sensed a familiar fear of being judged as an outsider, someone different and therefore unacceptable. Defensively, I blurted out, “I don’t go here so I don’t know where I’m going.” The woman simply smiled at me and replied “’Well, that’s just great. We love having you. I’m so glad you stopped by.” Uhm, not what I was expecting. She was neither offended nor deterred by my insecurity and my difference. Showing me to a side room to in which a very welcoming spread of breakfast items were displayed and various large round tables were people could sit and chat before the service began. A group of older folks who knew each other well sat at one table. Feeling insecure about being alone, I chose to sit at a table with a woman who appeared to also be attending alone. Asking if I could sit with her, she replied “I would love for you to. I sit here before the service and listen to those folks talk about all their old stories. They are great stories.” I liked her already. Something about her felt authentic and helped me feel grounded. I told her I was not a church goer but was there to support my dad who was in the bell choir and I wanted to support him on his first service performance. She told me that my gesture was a really nice thing. She said that as parents get older, it means a lot for adult children to support them in their interests. She appeared to be in her mid 5o’s and relayed that, she too, was not a regular at the church but was there to support her son who was also in the bell choir. I felt my the ice of my insecurities melting away…
“You are loved”
As we made our way to the sanctuary for the service, she invited me to sit with her with the best view to see the bell choir. As we sat together I felt warmed by her acceptance of me. As the bell choir came in she pointed out her son who just so happened to be standing next to my dad. Synchronicity. These kinds of connected experiences occur very often to me and now know they are Spirit reminding me I that belong and I am cared about. I did not resonate or connect with the words in the hymns so as the church sang, I remained respectfully quiet as did my new friend. At one point, she turned to me and whispered that she didn’t sing. Maybe her insecurity, like mine, needed to explain her difference to me. I responded, “neither do I.” She leaned over to me again and whispered, “except in my car.” Whoa! She hit the spot. Connection. She spoke my language of spirituality. I think a tear formed as my heart filled up. I had been seen and I was known. I looked back at her and meeting her eyes with mine, I said, “That’s what I meant.” We smiled at each other. We understood each other. ‘Church’ has meant many hurtful things to me as I have experienced it as exclusive rather than inclusive. Although I know many lovely, caring, wonderful people who attend churches and are religious, growing up, I felt pressured to believe what they believed and feared that I would not be accepted if I did not believe the same. This experience has healed some of that old wound.
“We’re not made to be superheroes…
A light not expected…
But not quite perfected yet…
“You, don’t have to prove yourself
Don’t try to be someone else”
Throughout much of my life I have struggled with my difference because I learned that being different meant being somehow wrong and bad. So, I tried to be like everyone around me, act like everyone around me and even tried to believe like everyone around me so that I could feel loved by everyone around me. But this kind of forced fitting in only led to its own kind of pain and loneliness. Focusing so much on ‘everyone around me’ prevented me from seeing and being seen by those who do understand and accept me, my tribe. My own insecurity and attachments prevented me from feeling the freedom that comes by being accepted for who I REALLY am.
“Look up; see the sun is shining
There’s hope on a new horizon
Calling you, it’s calling
You are loved”
But when I look up from my pain of what I lack, I can see the horizon of all the good and fullness of that which I am. This Sunday I attended was Pentecost day. A day to celebrate differences and uniqueness yet belonging and unity. I was humbled and awed at the Spirit’s direction in my life. Historically, Pentecost is the beginning of the ‘church’ when all believers came as one. Its purpose is to empower and equip believers with the power of Spirit to bring them together. And, that is exactly what I was experiencing. In my difference, in all our differences, we were there, in our own unique way, my own unique difference, to share and be a part of what was important to us, what and who we supported, what we believed in and what we cared about. It was a magical moment as all my moments of synchronicity are. As my perspective of ‘church’ has been changed by this experience, the old wounds that led to misguided perspectives and beliefs are healing and becoming stronger by the scars that bind them and with new lenses of self-understanding and acceptance, I am feeling more seen, understood, accepted and loved than I ever thought possible. Being open to the love, looking up, I am loved.
“You don’t have to live like a refugee” were words spoken to me by my first therapist–so very long ago during my first eating disorder treatment and they have stayed with me for over 15 years. What does it mean to be a refugee? Well, a refugee is a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. In essence, it is someone without a home…
“I can’t! I can’t do it!” I cry out as I reactively cover my ‘ugly cry’ face with my hands. I’m in treatment, again and I’m sitting across my primary therapist and dietician at dinner. Trying to eat restaurant night with two eating disorder professionals is hard enough, but when they were also confronting me, or rather, my negative beliefs about myself is beyond anxiety. Seemingly to read my mind…”
‘You’re never ready,’ she said, “You’re never ready. Whether you had a good relationship or a complicated one, you’re never ready to lose your mother.” Over the last year several of my friends and colleagues have experienced their mothers passing. I suppose it’s that strange time of life that seems to have just suddenly made its way into mine.