Embracing Where You Belong

Description

If someone is frequently and consistently not careful with your heart, it’s OK to restrict that person's access to it. If someone restricts you access to theirs, it may be God protecting against what's not in your best interest.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

Several years ago, my family and I attended a rather formal performance of Handel’s Messiah at a historic downtown venue. Beforehand, I spent a good amount of time reminding my three young kiddos of appropriate concert etiquette. No talking during the performance. No getting up to use the bathroom while the musicians are playing. And no eating or drinking until intermission.

Throughout the performance, the kids did a bang-up job minding their manners. At intermission, we went to use the restroom. And that’s when I lost all credibility to lecture on concert etiquette: I walked out of the bathroom with the back of my dress tucked in to my tights.

Classy and put-together, that’s me.

I can play the part of cultured fancy folk for a time, yes. But in general, I belong in my stretchy jeans and a slouchy T-shirt, either sitting and watching a movie with my family or in the corner of a café, chatting with a friend.

In some small way, my wardrobe malfunction serves to remind me that while it’s good to know where I do belong, it’s also good to know where I do not belong — and to be OK with it.

When I think about becoming OK with where I don’t belong, two scenarios come to mind where I struggle the most. The first is when I want to belong in a place or with a group of people, but I just can’t find my way inside, and I have a hard time accepting it.

The second scenario is when I know I don’t belong near someone whose words or actions repeatedly harm me in some way, yet I feel guilty about placing a boundary with that person.

While mulling this over awhile ago, the Lord gave me an image of our hearts reflecting the tabernacle, which in the Old Testament represented God’s house.

As we see in Exodus 26, the tabernacle consisted of three primary areas: the outer courtyard, the Holy Place and the inner Holy of Holies. Any Israelite could enter the courts, but only priests were allowed to enter the Holy Place, and only the high priest could enter into the Holy of Holies. The farther within the tabernacle one moved, the more restricted the access became.

Herein lies the parallel to our hearts: The entrance, or outer courtyard, is for many people. Other parts are a more Holy Place where people who are for us may cross the threshold. And still other parts are for just you and God alone, a kind of Holy of Holies.

If someone is frequently and consistently not careful with your heart, it’s OK not to let that person have unrestricted access to it. (They can even stay outside of the courtyard.) As Proverbs 4:23 says, we are to protect our hearts and their contents, since what goes in will eventually come out: Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

By the same token, we must be careful to not take it personally when others don’t allow us access to their hearts. We all have limited bandwidth and must tend to our “priority people” as God directs. If someone else’s “priority people” doesn’t include us, we shouldn’t assume that person is unfeeling, there’s something wrong with us, or God is holding out on us. It’s a mighty hard thing to accept in the moment, but rejection is often God’s protection against what is not in our best interest.

We all need people and places to belong. But to get there, we don’t have to travel the superhighways of connection and do whatever it takes to get noticed. We don’t have to hide for fear of rejection, or feel guilty for not inviting people who offer more sabotage than support into the inner parts of our hearts.

Instead of feeling guilty, we can take the back road to belonging by remaining in Christ and then relax in finding the for us people and places God has for us today.

Lord, I pray for a spirit of contentment for where You have me right now. In my desire to expand my sense of belonging, please show me the direction You would have me go toward one or two others who will treat my heart with care. Thank You for being ever for me. Above all, thank You for Your Son, Jesus, who is my heart’s truest belonging place. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 6:37, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (ESV)

Exodus 25:8, “And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.” (ESV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
If you’d like to forgo the fear of missing out while finding your place in the world and in relationships, read Kristen Strong’s new book, Back Roads to Belonging: Unexpected Paths to Finding Your Place and Your People.

CONNECT:
You can connect with Kristen on her website kristenstrong.com or on Instagram, @kristenstrong.

Enter to WIN your very own copy of Back Roads to Belonging by Kristen Strong. In celebration of this book, Revell is giving away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and notify each one in the comments section by Monday, August 26, 2019.}

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What’s one way you can actively turn your head from where you wish you belonged and show gratitude for where you do belong today?

© 2019 by Kristen Strong. All rights reserved.

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