Our Longing to Belong

Deep within each heart lies a seemingly insatiable yearning to be part of; to fit in the whole. To be accepted and loved for who we are. This is most reflected by the words so common in our home wall hangings.

“To love and be loved is the greatest source of joy”.

It was this deep longing that drove us to seek a circle of friends wherein we could relate and share our lives; the highs and lows, the parties and perils. This circle of friends was made even wider with the advancement of communication technology. At the click of a mouse, messages could be sent back and forth, miles and miles across the earth. It was hard to imagine that lonely would still be an adjective with which we would use to describe our current status then. In spite of this, many of us walked with our heads hung low and hearts sunk deep. We had been hurt, rejected and considered outcasts for reasons that were beyond us. Physical nature, level of education, and family names are just but the few that were deviously used to discriminate and to add to the scars of discrimination, incriminate. Questions that were the scourge of untold suffering revolved in our minds. “Am I that ugly? Am I not cool enough? Where did I go wrong? What did I say? What did I not say? What did I do? What did I not do? Was it my dressing? Was the label archaic? The peak of meditating upon the answers to these questions, only the many tears on our pillows could tell; the many nights we cried ourselves to sleep wondering how our loved ones could be so cold. Soon we developed ways of building up defenses never to be hurt again. We became loners; not that we wanted to but we thought it was the only way to protect our fragile hearts. A friendly “hi” was treated with the greatest suspicion. Tasks that required teamwork were loathed and much of our academic advances were made on solitary effort.
In spite of all these, the longing to belong was still there. No matter how much we suppressed it, it didn’t die out. The little flame kept burning. Somehow it survived the massive torrents of lonely winds that we sent its way. It seemed to have a life of its own. It cried out for nurturing to blossom to its full nature… but no! Our fragile hearts wouldn’t allow it to glow again. We kept true to the old adage “once beaten, twice shy.” We had been down that rugged road. Memories of loneliness, pain, tears, and scars got while trudging upon it caused us to turn our backs on it. Yet the little flame called out. The gap within longed to be filled. The question was with what? With what were we supposed to fill it and be at rest. We had tried people. Family. They disappointed us. Friends. They deserted us. Lovers. They broke us. We had tried substances. Alcohol. It mocked us. Cigarettes. They punctured us. Drugs. They played tricks on us. We tried everything that our time and energy could allow us to get a hold of. Yet the emptiness prevailed. We searched for answers but all to no avail. We were either searching in the wrong places or wrong people. If ever these answers were presented to us, we deliberately became obtuse. We hung a veil over our faces and could not see the truth right under our noses. Our intellectual pride barred us from this truth. Too simple it seemed, not for achievers such as we. Our hearts hardened. We cannot recollect the exact moment or place but a solemn decision was made. From then henceforth, we devoted our time and energy to the things that seemed logical and real. Work and studies took over us. Climbing up the corporate ladder became our life ambition. Revising our resumes became an everyday thing. Our feet paced up and down institutions of higher learning. We sought the glory of earthly wisdom and nothing could stand in our way. Our treasure chests were filled with transcripts and honorary degrees, short-courses certificates and recommendations. Family photos, letters from friends of long ago and life-giving literatures became squatters in a foreign land. The Bible was not given much thought. Christianity was not an “option” we were ready to consider and if we did, it was kept at the periphery of our “focused” minds. We were successful. We were secure. Anything that threatened to disturb this deceptive security was quickly pushed away and buried deep in the crypt of callousness.

However, life has a way of bringing the high and lofty to their knees. Soon the dark cloud of vanity enfolded us taking away the little sunshine we had. There we stood heavily soaked in drops of loneliness. We dragged our feet inside our homes. We figured that maybe the antidote for this debilitating disease could be found within the family. We figured wrong. Tears brimming in our reddened eyes, we sought solace within the cold walls of our bedrooms. Amidst fits of rage, rage against God and man, we thumped our clenched fits against the walls. Finally, realizing that we were fighting a losing battle, we leaned, our backs against the inanimate foe and slid down amid torrents of tears and sobs. Once again we were back at the drawing board. Only this time, our defenses had been brought down. We lay there naked and vulnerable. We felt all wretched inside. The feeling of utter helplessness was too much to bear. At this moment of despair, we looked up and cried out to God whom we believed He doesn’t exist and if He did, He cared less about man’s affairs; the details of our lives. A conviction to open His Holy Book arose within us. We rose up with it and reached for the book shelf. Therein, lay the Bible that had not been opened in recent history. The dust was blown off and the pages savored.

“I have seen the burden God has laid upon men.
He has made everything beautiful in its time.
He has also set eternity in the hearts of men;
Yet they cannot fathom what God has done
from the beginning to end.”
Ecclesiastes 3:10-11

Quickly we wanted to put the Book away. Never before had blunt truth been put before us in such a manner. We could have sworn the words spoke. And we listened. A voice from without prompted us to put it aside. “It is all flowery poetry,” was its subtle insinuation. However, our little Bible knowledge reminded us that these words were penned down by a very wise man. He must have known the truth in them. We turned another page.

“They are not just idle words for you-they are your life…”
Deuteronomy 32: 47a

Life. That was what we needed right then. All our friends and family could not give us this. Our work and academic degrees could not either. We needed this “life”. Frantically, in search of it, we turned another page.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I have come that they may have life,
And have it in full.”
John 10:10

“I am a part of ‘they’,” we told ourselves. Knowledge of an adversary whose sole mission was our destruction jolted us to our true senses. Our hearts became fully committed to finding this Giver of life; life in its fullness. Another page was turned.

“I am!”
John 8:58; 18:5b

“I am the Bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry,
And he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
John 6:35

I am the way the truth and the life.
No one comes to Father except through me.
John 14: 6

The authority behind those words made us shudder. It made us feel small. We were desperate for this new life. However, preconceived ideas of authority and bureaucracies shied us away. Once again, the feeling of helplessness crept in. A voice spoke. Certain and ever so gentle. This time from within. It urged us to open the last pages. Revelation. The mention of the word sent chills down our spines. Our fingers trembled and our palms became sweaty. Yet divine strength was obtained for opening the pages that we were nudged to. Where it came from, only heaven knows.

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. In anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”
Revelation 3:20

The words melted our hearts. We expected rejection. We found an invitation. The voice was familiar. We had heard it before. Looking back in retrospect, we recalled the many times we heard the invitation but turned it down for another. Now, our very selves stolen from us, killed and destroyed within, we threw ourselves into this invitation of life. Our hearts of stone were melted and we cried out to the gracious and loving Father. His acceptance through His son Jesus Christ overwhelmed us. A peace that surpasses human understanding flooded our souls. We had never felt that way before. We felt new. We felt beautiful. We knew we had begun life on a new page. A second chance had been given. A second birth had been made possible. We were born-again. No matter how much we tried to explain it to our Christian friends over the phone, we could not put the words together. We bubbled in excitement. When this wasn’t enough, we broke down in tears. Tears of joy. They too cried with us for they knew what it meant to meet the Giver of life. Then in between sobs, they prayed with us.

The next day being a Sunday, we accompanied our neighbors to church. Its walls that seemed so cold and condemning were now warm and welcoming. Looking around the joyous faces, we were glad to be among them. The brotherly hugs received drew tears from our eyes. Deep down, we whispered to ourselves, “we could get used to this”. We loved it. Recalling the words of life we read last night, we sang the following hymn with gratitude in our hearts. Grateful that therein was no longer a longing to belong, an empty gap to be filled but a King who had chosen to make our hearts His throne.

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God;
Born of His spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story this is my song
Praising my savior all the day long

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture burst on my sight;
Angels descending, bring from above,
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my savior am happy and blest;
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in his love.

Fanny .J. Crosby 1820-1915.

We love you all.

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