The longing to be a part of something lies deep within each one of us.It may look different from one person to the next, but it's surely there. As I’ve explored and met and traveled and chatted, I’ve wandered upon this human ache to share together, be together, strive together time and time again. It rests among us all. And this wandering has left me wondering of the things of which I’ve been a part over the course of life’s timeline.
I’ve been part of sports teams that lit a fire in my desire to achieve, my will to succeed, and taught me what it means to play for each other. I experienced the thrill of hours in a gym, early morning workouts, sprint after sprint after sprint- and the togetherness that hard work blossoms. The “I’m willing to push myself as far as I can go because this team is worth it” attitude that leaves you exhausted, yet so proud at the end of the day.
I’ve had jobs that yield the greatest sense of purpose in my life, that revealed reality to me, that taught me to be truthful, to be tough, and to be gentle- all at once. I’ve experienced the feeling of family within the workplace, striving for the same goal and battling through obstacles that are so much bigger than we are. I know what it is to need each other and to have each other.
I’ve been part of a group of friends that were undoubtedly answered prayers. Sisters and brothers that see you, know you, challenge you, love you, and bring so much joy into each day. Friends that were for a season and friends that are for a lifetime, each of which holds a special part of my heart, my memories, and who I’ve become.
I’ve been part of a church family that makes sense of the Body of Christ to me. Encouragers, prayer warriors, truth speakers, note writers, and light-a-fire-under-me-ers. This Body that continues to send me, mold me, hold me up- there aren’t words for the special role they play.
I’ve been a part of a whole family unit that has fostered me, cherished me, guided me, held me, laughed over me (and sometimes at me!), prayed over me, and blessed me. I relish the ways that family time was held in high regard, looked forward to, and made priority. I chuckle at the memories of the dreaded wooden spoon with which my bum was so familiar, and the greater understanding I now have in knowing that discipline is love at its finest. I am thankful that much was expected of me, even though love was not ever dependent upon results. I smile at the days playing make believe in the front yard (or doing whatever it was my brothers told me to do), the trips to the farm and the freedom we found there, the many (MANY) hours spent in a stadium pulling so hard for a bunch of guys to find a way into the endzone, and the 5 (then 6, then 7, then 8, now 9) chairs that sat around our dinner table beckoning for life-giving conversation. When it comes to family, oh my heart is so full!
And lastly, I’ve been part of a marriage- a relationship that is meant just for each other. I know the inner being of a man set aside only for me and he knows the inner being of me set aside only for him. My desires, my fears, my weaknesses, my needs- exposed and wrapped in the comfort of a holy covenant before God to have and to hold forever.
As my mind reflects on these parts of me, my heart settles in on gratitude, joy, peace, and an overwhelming sense of wholeness. But it doesn’t end there...
In this place we call home on the tip of this big continent, by glorious beach scenes and mountains reaching wide and far, there exists a desperate longing to be a part. There is a great chasm I see present in the lives of so many here, an abyss stretching across searching hearts- an absence of purpose and belonging. Oh how I ache for them to be a part. To experience the… completion… that being a part of something can bring. What a blessing the Lord offered when He gave us companionship, hard work, talents, camaraderie, teams, family, the Body.
I fear what it must be like to simply exist through another day, as is the story of so many of the people we work with here.
What does it feel like to:
- Drop out of school at age 11 and then meander the streets aimlessly because you can?
- Be rejected and alone because you tested positive and carry a vicious disease inside of you?
- Have a baby at age 14 and now you don’t have a childhood or an education or a job, but your family expects you to magically become a grown-up?
- Be unemployed and resort to begging because it just makes the most sense?
- Have a school holiday or a weekend that is filled with just waiting for the day to pass, sun up - sun down, over and over again?
- Be torn back and forth between family members, not because they want you, but because they want your All-Pay grant money?
- To be addicted to drugs, but are unable to see a different future because everyone you know has had the same fate you are currently living?
How do you not feel hopeless when you are not a part of something whole, fruitful, uplifting? I haven’t found a solution for this question that bounces around my heart and soul on a daily basis, but I have resorted to prayer, to conversation, to hugs and a gentle touch. My earnest prayer is to become a part of their lives... not because I am so worthy and important, but because it’s all I have to offer. I know what it is to be a part, and I can offer that to someone else in the smallest of ways. Dream for them until they believe it themselves. Look past what always has been and think about what could be. Offer friendship and smiles to a soul that needs to belong. Make desperate attempts to conversate with teenagers even when you’ve run out of everything you can think of to talk about and even when they offer you NO HELP (oh, silly teenagers…). Offer direction, set goals, fill time with activity- even if its just a walk on the beach or making tacos, and give something to look forward to. In the days that I struggle, that I long for home, that I feel like maybe I’m not a part of all that I could be if I were somewhere else- I thank God that I will be here tomorrow. That goodbyes get to be "see you laters." That I’m not here to just leave again, but that He has put us here to stay for this season of life; and because of that, we get to be a part. We get to walk beside so many. To affirm. To smile. To love. And sometimes that is all we each need to know that we belong.