Every single one of us has a longing in our hearts to belong. Whether you claim to be a “loner” or feel you’re an outgoing person that is the life of the party, deep down within all of us is a desire to be accepted for who we are.
Walking into a room full of people that you don’t know is quite intimidating. It doesn’t matter if it’s a party, or if you’re going into a restaurant. You feel you will be judged, because sadly, you have been on the receiving end of this far too many times. Yet, what if the people on the other side of those doors welcomed you with open arms? They are certainly supposed to when you enter a church, but that hasn’t always been the case for me and my family. Feeling welcomed and as if you belong should never be in question when you walk through the doors of a church, but often times, those very people in those pews will look at you with judgement in their eyes. They won’t include you into their little groups no matter what, but then you know that isn’t the church for you. And you move on.
My daughter – 14 years old and full of beauty, from her long hair to her smile that could light up a room – was afraid to walk into a room yesterday and asked me to go with her. She’s some where between a woman and a child. And at that moment, this child needed her mother to walk in with her and show her that the people weren’t scary after all. Now, they weren’t over excited that we were there, and they didn’t greet us with a smile. They really just looked at us as we glanced around at the baked goods on the table that they had for sale. We were picking up food from a fundraiser and thought we’d sneak a peek at the goodies. While it was just a small room with three little old ladies inside, it was intimidating to my daughter. She didn’t know what to expect, and neither did I really. But we went in anyway hoping for the best. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but we picked out our goodies and left the building. The people weren’t mean. They weren’t overfriendly either. But, I think she discovered that her fear was not justified. The little old ladies weren’t a threat to her after all.
Honestly … in life, that is all you can do is hope for the best in every situation we’re faced with. Face it. Don’t fear it!
But if you want to have a sense of belonging, you should also work harder on including people into your circle. It isn’t one sided, you know. What I do when I go into a room like that now is make eye contact with the people and smile. Hopefully they will smile back as we say hello and we both have a pleasant experience. But if you walk into the room unwilling to make eye contact or speak … that doesn’t give the people in the room a nice warm feeling of you either. It truly goes both ways.
When was the last time you included someone in your plans that you normally wouldn’t? Have you invited people to attend a function with you or just come into the quiet of your home and enjoy a cup of coffee and good conversation?
I’m trying to teach my daughter to not fear the people she encounters, like in the room with the baked goods. I’m also trying to teach her to include others and be welcoming, herself. It feels good to be accepted, and it also feels good to invite others in. Be that person. In inviting, you also open yourself to rejection. I know. But that isn’t on you – all you can do is invite. It is up to others if they actually take you up on it.