I was twelve years old and spending the summer away from the city in upstate New York at my grandmother’s house. I loved the two months of summer we’d spend at Nannie’s – our affectionate name for my maternal grandmother. She had this house that felt like a mansion compared to our tiny place in the city. She also had this huge barn on her property that provided a great play area out of the hot summer-time sun. My sisters and I would play games of hide-and -seek, capture the flag and a myriad of other games for hours on end. If we were lucky, we’d even have a few of our next door neighbors join in.
It was always a challenge to fit in when the neighbors joined the fray. Though I wanted desperately to feel a sense of belonging with these kids, it was always a struggle. I had never accompanied grandpa to milk a cow, feed the chickens or butcher a pig. I had never waited motionless and silent with my dad in the pre-dawn hours to bag a ten-point buck. I was the “city slicker” with no experience on the farm. I didn’t feel as though I belonged.
I’ve since learned that all that is required to fully experience belonging is to believe that we are worthy of belonging. When we can finally let go of what other people think and own our story, we gain access to our own sense of worthiness – the feelings that we are enough just as we have been created by God.
I’ve learned much about love and belonging from writer and research professor Brene Brown. She says, “When we spend a lifetime trying to distance ourselves from the parts of our lives that don’t fit with who we think we’re supposed to be, we stand outside of our story and hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing and proving.” I liken that need to perform, perfect, please and prove to climbing on an elliptical, putting your head down, working out hard for forty-five minutes only to be disappointed to discover upon disembarking, that you are in the exact spot you began!
The truth is, worthiness has no prerequisites. We are worthy now, in this moment, in our story, just as we are. We just have to own it. And that might just be the biggest challenge.