on belonging

Posted: August 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

I’m not a fan of receiving lines at weddings.  I’ve waited in long lines a lot of times to shake hands with members of the wedding party that I’ve never met.  It feels awkward to me, trying to think of something to say to the groomsman who doesn’t know me from Adam.  And I feel so RUDE if I try to just gloss on by the people I don’t know, to get to the ones that I do.

We skipped all that pain by dismissing our wedding guests differently.  We had them remain in their seats after the wedding (treated to beautiful live music) and we dismissed them pew by pew, which meant we were able to see and speak with every single guest.  That meant a lot of hugs and a lot of opportunities to extend heartfelt thanks.  We heard over and over as we shook hands and hugged and smiled that it was the greatest/neatest/most unusual/most fun wedding people had been to.  That made me grin every time, because all we did while planning this wedding was:  exactly what we wanted.  We didn’t try to do things to be *like other weddings* or to *display our good taste* or to *stick with traditions* or to impress people at all.  We just focused on things like:  let’s really focus on God.  Let’s say the things WE want to say, not the usual given lines.  Let’s have fun.  Let’s surprise those in the pews…and let’s surprise each other. 

All of that could only happen in the context of belonging.  Brene Brown shared in her talk at the Global Leadership Summit a lot about belonging.  She pointed out that the number one barrier is “fitting in.”  As long as we are striving to fit in, and others are working to insist that we MUST fit in to be accepted, we will not experience actual belonging.  Belonging happens when we can show up and be seen,  not for who we COULD be or who we SHOULD be, but for who we really are. 

One of my favorites among the many likenesses that Gary and I share is that we’ve pretty much given up on trying to fit in.  We pretty much live who we are, and live it loud.  We choose to show up and be seen, and lo and behold, unlike all those years when I was studying the “popular kids” and trying and failing, failing, failing to find a way to fit in…we belong.  People accept us and embrace us and welcome us, and people came and gladly celebrated with us. 

Sweet stuff, belonging.  What freedom, understanding that it has nothing to do with fitting a mold. 

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