A Place To Belong

This post is written to link with Five Minute Friday: write for five minutes on a one-word prompt.  The prompt today is “place.”

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We all need a place to belong, a place where we feel safe, a place where we can be ourselves and know that we are accepted just as we are.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if church could be one of those places?

I know for some people it is, but for too many people their experience is the opposite.

Church is a place where they feel judged or excluded, a place where they feel they are not good enough or that they don’t measure up, a place where they have to hide the broken, messy parts and present the best image of themselves.

We have to change this.

I love this quote from Lisa Harper that I found in a She Reads Truth devotional this week:

“Scripture doesn’t instruct us to smile on the outside while we die on the inside.”

Too often that’s what we do.  Too often it’s what we feel we have to do to be accepted, and that’s not God’s desire for us.

“When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do.  I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.””  (Mark 2:17 NLT)

Jesus calls us to come as we are.  If the church is going to represent him, it has to do the same.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if, instead of being a place of hiding and fear of judgement, it could be known as a place of love and healing?

It’s something I have been thinking about and my church has been thinking about, and there are no easy answers, but maybe we can start small.

It could be looking out for someone who is new or sitting by themselves, taking time to talk and to listen, to encourage them and make them feel welcome.

It could be taking the risk to stop pretending ourselves – to be honest about how we really are instead of smiling and saying we’re fine when nothing could be further from the truth.

It’s a risk, but someone has to go first, and maybe it’s a risk worth taking if it empowers someone else to do the same.

Maybe together we can make this a better place – a place of honesty and grace and acceptance – a place to belong.

 

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17 thoughts on “A Place To Belong

  1. This Casting Crowns song is so convicting. We often say we are a welcoming church but mostly for people like us. I’m reading a book called “Microagressions in Ministry.” It does an excellent job of explaining the ways we are not welcoming to all. We’re neighbors today! FMF19

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I used to be part of a church that talked a lot about welcoming and “being family” and yet that was not my experience at all. I think it is important, even if we’re trying to be welcoming, to think about whether that is really coming across to others. The book sounds interesting. I’ll have to check it out.

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  2. After writing about what the church should be, I am hearing your thoughts on the way the church is missing the mark. It is a struggle. To be honest–my husband and I had to move on from one church. Churches have problems, but we continue to engage. We repent and we pray. God promises to answer our prayers. We listen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Carol! Yes, we need to remember that churches are made up of imperfect people and it is not always going to be easy, but we have to keep going and try to be part of the solution.

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  3. A wonderful reflection about how we are to be light to the world. The church can’t do that if people are afraid or ashamed to “come as they are.” Very insightful, and I love the layout of your site. Beautiful photos, and lovely encouragement. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your encouragement! Yes, I think it would make a big difference to our witness if the church could be seen as a more welcoming and accepting place.

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  4. I’m not dying on the inside,
    I’m just dyin’, sure as s***.
    and fell things will betide;
    I haven’t seen the worst of it.
    But friends now seem to fall away
    unable to bear the coming sorrow.
    They recall my yesterday,
    but turn away from my tomorrow.
    I understand, who’d want to see
    a man who once inspired
    falling like a saw-felled tree,
    and even the fall is tired.
    I know you don’t want another tear,
    but I’m alive, and I’m still here.

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    1. Andrew, I’m glad that you’re alive and you’re still here! I’m that as well as the physical pain you’re suffering you’re having to deal with the pain of friends falling away. Know that you still inspire many people with your faith and determination in the midst of all this!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you so much for challening us with this Lesley! It really is and can be such a problem, but it’s important to remeber that it starts with each of us. A church is just a representation of the values that its members hold and if we all try and reach out and be more Christ-like in that our churches will begin to look a lot more real. Also, thank you for sharing that song. I love Casting Crowns and this song is, like your post, such a good source of encouragement and challenge. I hope you have a great week! From, your FMF friend.

    Liked by 1 person

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