Back

Enlarging the Circle with Belonging


(Photo: Unsplash)

As a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), I primarily advocate for the well-being of children in the foster care system. During a recent discussion, the importance of enlarging the circle with belonging became a goal for the foster children in our care.

A common need of all humans, belonging often becomes something few foster children experience.

As a CASA, we represent a rare constant in a child’s life because we move with them from home to home. Despite a sense of belonging in our nurtured relationship, the full benefit of a healthy belonging within family and community circles remains just out of reach for most foster children.

Upon reflection, we all encounter times when a feeling of true belonging escapes us.

But what if the true blessing of belonging rested not in the experience of inclusion, but in the privilege of enlarging the circle with belonging?

Welcome to Mindfulness Monday! Where we learn some easy ways to be more present “in the moment” at our jobs, in our homes, with our families and friends.

Learning to recognize God and what He has for us in each divine moment He offers. We acknowledge the belief that God is with us always.

We confess His presence is available to us, lifting our spirit and helping us with power and grace. Learning the art of “stillness” so we can hear His voice and view ourselves, others and our surroundings through His eyes.

circle of belonging

Belonging, a basic and inherent human need, pushes us to the fringe of vulnerability as we search for others with similar life experiences.

two women walking and talking in autumn

God created us for community; to live, breathe, and have our being in Him, (Acts 17:28) but also deriving that same existence from others created in His image. Our very souls become fed by meaningful connection to others.

Jesus not only spoke of loving others, but He also demonstrated a love of inclusion, embracing the marginalized, societal cast offs, and discriminated individuals of the day. In sending His disciples out, we see His heart for enlarging the circle with belonging, that all might experience the Father’s love.

Setting the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6), the Father ‘s desire becomes clear: creating a place of belonging. A safe place which personifies the love and intimacy of the Trinity.

Belonging, Our Greatest Need

The greatest love fulfilled our greatest need in offering unconditional love in an unbreakable bond of covenant relationship.

When Jesus Christ poured out His divine love as the perfect sacrifice for sin to redeem God’s most precious treasure, He not only purchased our redemption, He secured our belonging. (Romans 7:4)

True belonging through being fully known and fully loved rests only in relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ. But God never intended an exclusive relationship, but rather an inclusive one.

rustic clay tea pot, cup and autumn leaves

enlarging the circle with belonging

While our deepest need for belonging finds fulfillment in relationship with God, He states creation and life apart from human companionship as “not good”. (Genesis 2:18)

How can we, as followers of Jesus Christ enlarge our circle through intentional inclusion of others?

Consider the following exercises as a means of exploring your own perspective on belonging, and how you might invite others into a relationship of belonging.

Explore your own belonging

Reflect on the following questions, journaling your thoughts and praying through your own thoughts on belonging.

  • When was the first time you felt a sense of belonging?
  • How do you feel a sense of belonging? Ponder which areas below speak belonging to you.
    • Spoken words
    • Touch
    • Silence
    • Song
    • Nature
    • Creative Expression
    • Prayer
  • Of the areas above which speaks belonging to you most strongly?
  • Is there a part of you which feels outside the circle of belonging? How can you feel invited back inside?

Reflect on Psalm 100:3, Acts 17:28, Romans 7:4 and Romans 14:7-9. How does belonging to God change the way you view belonging?

brentwood rocker, throw, pumpkins, autumn decor on porch

Enlarging the Circle with Others

Building on what you learned about your own perspective and experiential belonging, consider how you can enlarge your current circles with an attitude of inclusion.

Reading through the gospels this year, my focus attended to the way Jesus initiated conversation. Continually moving toward those on the fringe of society, He invited them into discussion.

Nine encounters in the gospels show Him initiating an invitation to belonging: two classic conversations involve the Samaritan Woman (John 4:7-42) and the crippled beggar (John 5:1-15)

All nine encounters involved outcasts; those who “did not belong”, yet through Him received the fulfillment of their deepest need of belonging.

Extending the Invitation to Belong

In the areas of greatest belonging for you, consider ways you can initiate conversations with those on the fringe of your circle, inviting them to a place of deeper connection and belonging. Try these conversation starters over a cup of coffee, during a neighborhood walk, or sharing a snack.

  • What is your deepest need right now?
  • What types of environments bring a sense of belonging for you?
  • How do you feel most connected to others? To God?
  • What feelings do you associate with belonging?
  • Where do you feel most outside belonging right now?
  • How can I make you feel welcome?
coffee cup and saucer on top of book and white sweater, mini pumpkins

The blessing of belonging

God’s greatest desire of restoring perfect and intimate fellowship with His creation fulfills our deepest desire for belonging.

As we become safely and lovingly embraced by belonging, He invites us not to stay, but to GO, enlarging the circle by becoming the very safe place of belonging for others.

Welcome to Belonging

by Jan Richardson

You hardly knew

how hungry you were

to be gathered in,

to receive the welcome

that invited you to enter

entirely…

You began to breathe again…

You learned to sing.

But the deal with this blessing

is that it will not leave you alone,

will not let you linger…

this blessing

will ask you to leave,

not because it is tired of you

but because it desires for you

to become the sanctuary

that you have found…

If you enjoyed reading this post, there’s more! Sign up for my weekly newsletters; a little slice of serenity delivered right to your inbox! As my “Thank-you” you will receive my FREE “The Grace of Gratitude” devotional for signing up!

All content is copyrighted and the intellectual property of Donna M. Bucher, Serenity in Suffering 2020.

Related Blogs