The Quest for True Belonging
This past week, I preached at my church's contemporary WAVE service on belonging. As part of our “Book and a Bible” series, I delved into Brené Brown’s newest book, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone. Some of you might be familiar with Brené through her New York Times bestselling books, interviews on Oprah, or popular TED talk on vulnerability.
As a sociologist and researcher, Brené interviewed numerous eighth graders on the difference between belonging and fitting in. Their answers were insightful and worth sharing:
* Belonging is being somewhere where you want to be, and they want you. Fitting in is being somewhere where you want to be, but they don’t care one way or the other.
* Belonging is being accepted for you. Fitting in is being accepted for being like everyone else.
* If I get to be me, I belong. If I have to be like you, I fit in.
The delineation in their definitions is relatable. It’s also illustrative of the fact that true belonging requires authentic self.
As much as we’re wired for genuine connection, it requires courage to present our authentic self to others and honor it ourselves. Brené writes, “No vulnerability, no courage.” But it is precisely our vulnerability that can bring us greater joy and even has the capacity to heal our increasingly divisive society.
When we recognize what binds us as humans is greater than what divides us, when we believe in mutual love and respect, and when we come together for a purpose larger than ourselves, we begin to cultivate a community where authentic selves can thrive. And that is something I hope, friends, the church offers you through Jesus Christ.
Coming together for Lent and Holy Week is a time-honored tradition that celebrates the love that unites us all. In Jesus, we all belong and are welcome. I wish you a rich Easter season in worship. Please stay tuned for my sermon, which will be available on demand soon!
This post was also shared with Central Presbyterian Church in Summit, NJ.