Belonging

A couple of years ago my family was living in my in-law’s(or as I call them, my  in-love’s) basement. We had just come off the mission field in Mexico and were transitioning back into life in the US. It was a really crazy time– because of circumstances, it wasn’t just us living with them, but most of our family was there too (there’s sixteen of us total). We would joke and say that the house must have elastic walls because it seemed to miraculously stretch for us all to be able to fit there. And we really did, it was pretty miraculous honestly. And more miraculous was the grace God gave us all in that season too–did I mention there was only one shower?? 

But something that would always make me laugh in that season was when I would hear the song “Who You say I am” by Hillsong. The lyrics go, 

“Who the Son sets free

Oh is free indeed

I’m a child of God

Yes I am

In my Father’s house

There’s a place for me

I’m a child of God

Yes I am”

I would literally like have to hold back bursts of laughter in church singing that song. I guess it’s just my sense of humor, but somehow the thought of how in my father in law’s house there was a space for us all would make me laugh so hard.

Right before we moved back to the West Coast though, at the last church service in New Hampshire that I went to, the worship team sang that song and my reaction was so strongly the opposite. I could not stop crying. The thought of moving away from our family felt like my heart was being ripped out.God met me in that moment though and ministered to my heart about the same lyrics that used to crack me up. He reminded me of the original point of that song– that it is in HIS house that I would always have a place. 

Knowing that I always have a place with Him changes everything about how I feel about the uncertainties of the future. It also changes everything about how I feel about my immediate perceived needs. 

In that moment at church where I couldn’t keep the tears back because my heart was breaking thinking about being away from family– knowing that where I was going God was going to have a place for me brought me so much peace. Remembering that truth and having that relationship with Jesus when we arrived and things were rocky for a while was also solely what carried me through.

This week as I was doing homework, I came across this fact that I thought was so interesting and so pertinent, “According to research, a sense of belongingness—of being connected in important ways to others—is one of three basic psychological needs essential to human growth and development, along with autonomy and competence (Osterman, 2000, p. 325).

How important belonging somewhere is to us as people–it’s essential for our growth and development. With the word essential being such a buzzword lately, how interesting for it to be used regarding our need for belonging.

For so many years of my life I longed to belong. I was a mess, and that story is likely unfolding soon in a different post, but ultimately– that longing for what was missing in my life I can see now was really my longing to have a relationship with Jesus. In His house is where I always have a place, and not based on what I do, but based on His love. If I mess up, He isn’t going to kick me out and rent my space to someone else. He’s always there. 

In my own experience, I can look back at my life and see how I tried and tried to fit squares and triangles into the hole of what was really missing in my heart.  But reading in my textbook about how essential belongingness really is for people, it broke my heart because that need, like all of our needs, is found in Jesus.

 I know it can sound overly simple, but that’s because it really is that simple. 

For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”

Romans 10: 10-14

I want to encourage you friend, if you haven’t yet met Jesus–He is real, and so is His love for you. I know it can seem impossible how having one relationship can change everything else, but this one really does. It seems impossible because He is God and does the impossible every day. The saving that we receive in a relationship with Him is eternal, but it is also very much about today too. I have to tell you, I could not get through a single day without Him. Looking at the world right now I often think that I don’t know how people are making it through. He walks with me through each moment and will with you too. 

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

With love, 

Angelina

The sixteen of us

Our Essential Family Schedule

One of my most constant struggles is doing versus being. The classic Christian internal, “Are you Mary or Martha?” question. Even though I know the right answer is to be Mary, my natural tendency always leads me to Martha first and then I have to seriously track back. You’d think I’d notice this about myself and be quicker to surrender but man I fall into this cycle a lot.

It rolled out pretty quick when we first heard that the quarantine was going to begin–you know that I made a schedule for my family right away for how we would handle the day to day. I laughed so hard because someone put out a “whats your Enneagram type during quarantine” video and it showed the type 1 making a schedule. Yep, that’s me. I tried to be realistic in my planning and considerate of what we needed, like time for Bible study, being outside, chores, homework, rest, regular work, play…

It was a good idea, but it did not go as planned. What was really funny too was that my kids were actually trying to enforce it. Like, “Mom, it’s 10, aren’t we supposed to be on our walk?”

The truth was my focus was all over the place, and I was fighting against my own schedule that I had tried to make. I didn’t even want to follow it. I felt so strange and distracted. Trying to navigate this time with my own understanding, I was fighting to make a normal in my own perspective out of what just isn’t normal. I’ve never walked through this before, why should I pretend I have an idea what I’m doing?

I needed to get Martha in the back seat again and just let go and surrender. What really is essential for our family during this time that isn’t normal? I can’t ask myself; I need to ask the One Who is really in control here and recognize that I never was. And finally have some peace because I needed my eyes back on Him.

“You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.”

Isaiah 26:3

The same thing that was always essential before is what is essential now. The abiding in Jesus. If that is all we get done today as a family, that’s all we need. I know we can’t force that on other people in our home, but we can control whether we will. It’s so essential that I’m in God’s word and praying right now. I need to let whatever “doing” happens flow from that time with Him, following what He has today, because He knows what really is important. That’s how my schedule needs to be made each day.

It’s essential that I’m loving Him and really loving others too. Only Jesus can really show me how my family needs to be loved right now. With my focus off I don’t feel like I’ve been doing so great at that, but I’m so grateful for His grace and forgiveness and opportunity He gives to try again. We are walking through a time unlike any before, and I don’t want to miss what God has for us in it.

So, here is how I’m trying again…

The schedule is out the window you guys. I’m not talking about being lazy, I know some things still absolutely need to get done, but I’m talking about surrendering. The essentials are first and most important, for me that’s my time with the Lord and doing a short study with our kids and praying together. I’m going to let Him lead, if we end up doing some stuff on my original schedule—awesome, but it’s His idea, not mine. With doing the things that can’t go, like homework, I’m doing it unto Him, like it should be done.

And I’m putting down my phone more. I realized a big reason my focus has been off is because I’m distracted worrying that I’m missing some kind of connection or information I need to have. That information will still be there in an hour, I don’t need to have my phone on me all the time. Everything is on screens right now… church, relationships, school, work, shopping… but it’s more than okay to take a break and just be present in the moment you’re in, to be present with Jesus and with those in your home.

This weekend we get to celebrate that He is alive! While this Easter looks so much different than previous ones, we still have the only thing that was ever truly important about it—our alive Savior. And I want to be present with Him!