In the past few months, I have made travel arrangements all around Europe. It’s actually a lot less glamorous than that sounds when you see the hostels and planes that were actually booked, but anyway… one website I frequented is airBNB.com. This is their slogan.
That sounds so nice, doesn’t it? That’s certainly something I’m interested in, and a sentiment I understand, after traveling somewhere to live, short-term, instead of vacation.
For most of my life I’ve belonged to many different places, ideas, and people, and I have loved this; but I have also felt like it’s caused me to not truly belong to any of them.
You know those movies when the actor somehow finds himself on two dates at the same time and he has to bounce between girls, locations, and outfits without letting anyone know? And… it pretty much almost never works out. He wears the clown nose to the wrong date or forgets to put his shoe back on for the next one. Do you know what I’m talking about? (I’m not making this up. This is a thing, right?)
Anyway, I feel like I have all these different things I love, but I don’t truly belong to any of them because I can’t fully devote myself and my heart to just one of them. I don’t have the time, and even if I did I don’t think I have that much energy.
My life consists of more than one house that feels like home, more than one church I connect with, more than one mentor I look up to, more than one country that feels like mine, more than one camp I counsel for, more than one student job I love working, more than one career field I’m interested in pursuing, more than one major on my degree plan… I’m sitting at Starbucks right now and I wouldn’t even be able to narrow my favorite menu item down to one iced beverage if someone were to ask.
I guess this sounds like a commitment issue. Maybe it is. That’s how I’ve viewed it for most of my life. I often brush it off by simplifying, “I just can’t say no!” It’s looked differently at different times. I’ve felt ashamed for not being able to make up my mind on big issues and for not feeling like I belong to one particular group of friends. I’ve worried about whether I will ever feel satisfied doing just one thing since I’ve never had less than twenty things on my plate at one time. I can’t think of a time in the past when I didn’t feel this way. Right now it looks like not knowing which of my two majors, or something else, to carry into a graduate program. Everything feels like a big decision.
But recently, my mind has kind of shifted about all this and I’ve felt more at peace. Here’s what I’ve been thinking about:
First, I cannot ever belong to someone or someplace if I don’t begin with belonging to myself and to my own heart. This sounds head-in-the-clouds and very Namaste, I know, but there’s some logic behind this claim. Here’s the thing, the only one who promises to choose just one place to dwell is God. And He chooses us. He chooses to belong to us. He chooses to live INSIDE our hearts. Each one of us fully, since He’s outside of space and time.
If we don’t feel like we belong there, too, then we majorly miss out on all He has to offer us. But when we do begin to enter into our own hearts and do the hard, but important, work of taking care of ourselves, it means we get to meet God in His house… His choice of residence.
And since God chooses one place to belong, it means that we don’t have to. God is our Home (“our refuge and strength”) and so we get to carry that with us always, wherever we go and into whatever we choose. We don’t have to enter a new place or new situation looking to belong, we can go forward already knowing that we belong. God gives us the freedom to soar by keeping us grounded in Him. It’s so very upside-right.
What does this all mean? I don’t exactly know. But for me, I think it means I don’t have to worry so much about finding The One Thing, and I don’t have to experience shame for feeling like I don’t belong to a particular career path, group of people, place on a map, etc. It means the belonging that I do feel for many people, places, and things is real, and I’m allowed, encouraged, to embrace it. I have legs that can move me around, a car that can take me places, a world that seems to grow smaller each day, and a mind that on average thinks 48.6 different thoughts per minute.
Maybe, at least for now, instead of Being Long in one place (belong –> be–long), I can just Be Short in lots of places. That sounds alright to me.