Belonging is such a basic human need.  Much like food and water, it is one of the few things we simply can not survive without.  As an adopted child I never had the complete sense of belonging. There was always something deep inside of me telling me I was different than everyone else around me.  Life would show up difficult, adding to my deep disconnection.  Of course, as a child I never understood belonging, and acceptance would be so important.  It was only later in life I would find this to be true.

Before I met my husband John I craved this basic need to belong.  I knew I wanted children but never gave much thought to marriage.  I always thought I would adopt my children and prove I could be a successful, loving mother.  Who needed a man to do that?  Not me.   I had survived this long without one.  I wanted acceptance into a family where I felt complete and having children would somehow fulfill that for me.  I never expected God would take control of my situation and bring John into my life.  In my twenties when I met John I couldn’t even say God was in my vocabulary.  But I was always in Gods!

When I married John, and we had our first son, I fell into a world of belonging.  Wow how beautiful it was.  With John’s love and acceptance, I began to see value in my life, something I never thought worthy of even living.  Over time his compassion and love for me helped me to cope with my past and the immense pain that came with it.  Slowly a strong me emerged and  John continued to support me in my journey.  Soon God and faith became part of my vocabulary.  Not because John mentioned God, went to church or even talked about God; it was because I became more aware of something bigger working in my life.  You could say I became more aware of Gods love for me.

I am so thankful God provided my tribe.  A small and mighty tribe of four is where I belonged.  I accepted my position as a leader and the imperfect unconditional love John had so graciously given me gave me the courage and strength I needed to undergo the very long journey of forgiveness.  I was able to start accepting the things I could not change, and I stopped wasting my energy on the negative in my life.  I made firm decisions to walk away from hurt and to break the chains of resentment.  I made tough decisions, as leaders do, to protect their tribe and I overwhelmingly made the decision LOVE was the answer. My life began to heal.  The days of brokeness were fading away.

Since John’s passing my tribe as changed and I am no longer the fearless leader.  My belonging feels empty.  Acceptance is hard in new situations and remembering how to navigate this journey seems more challenging than ever before.   However, I am reminded by Ash Wednesday and the Lenten season that Spring is a time of rebirth, a refresh or starting new.  I have to remind myself I have the foundation to get through the season of change.  The lessons learned are not forgotten.

The biggest lesson being – Forgiveness is a choice.  It is a life long journey.  It never stops or gets fixed on the first try.  Life will continue to hand me and you reminders about our past and things will trigger us to forget about how far we have come in our journey. I tell myself and anyone who reads this.  Don’t give up.  Wake up each morning with new hope and choose to forgive.  Love will always be a better option over hate and resentment.  To feel a sense of belonging and acceptance is beautiful and much needed in our lives to survive.  I pray you find your tribe.  I know God will help me find mine again.  Ultimately we have always belonged to God and we always will.

Luv, Luv,

Julie 💙