At school I was the girl who never fitted in. I barely spoke, and felt I had no voice - I didn't know how to express how I felt, and thought no one would listen anyway. I left school with a deep feeling of having no sense of belonging, and then spent many years searching for it. I looked for belonging in the wrong places, got into relationships out of desperation, took things very fast and found that I still felt just as empty and broken and alone. Moments of intense passion were never enough to heal years of rejection and of not being heard or known.
But eventually God got a hold of me, and slowly but persistently kept finding ways to get His love through to me, until this truth finally started to sink into the depths of my being. But where I finally found belonging was in a group of friends who became like family to me. The penny finally dropped that to find belonging I didn't need a man, but a sense of family. I found people who accepted me and showed love to me, and that inspired me to become proactive in seeking to bless them and to be vulnerable with them. This new-found belonging transformed my life- I grew in confidence, found healing from the loneliness that plagued me, and found contentment and joy in life like never before.
So what does it mean to become family? My experience has taught me that true family is a place where anyone can come as they are, where they are safe to be themselves and be vulnerable, where they can reveal their brokenness and not be met with judgement but with a commitment to stand with them through thick and thin. A place where we are looking not to our own interests but constantly look for ways to bless and support each other with no strings attached. This is what I think Jesus meant when He prayed for Christians to be one, and when He commanded us to love one another as He loved us. It is a real challenge to love in this way, and while I can't say I always do this well, I desire above all else to live my life like this. I've found loving one another in Christ the most rewarding thing to pursue, and where I've found real belonging.