Melissa Boord Photography
It was in the Economist, but don’t stop reading because of that. Chinese ethnic minorities are finding it difficult, even with an education and a move to the city, to find the right job and feel as though they fit in.
One woman said, “I don’t feel like I fit in anywhere. I don’t know who I am anymore.”
If I had ten bucks for every friend who has said that to me, well, I’d be richer. Often they were non-white friends—a boyfriend from Las Vegas with the full-ride scholarship at Occidental College, the friend living on (but raised off) a reservation, the friend from Compton trying to make it in Seattle, the Iranian friend going to college in Eugene, Oregon.
But that’s not all…there was also the white suburban housewife, the white twenty-something community college student, the white female high-powered executive, the white male stock broker. Here’s a secret: No one feels like they belong. Even people who say they feel like they belong don’t really feel like they belong.
Oh, sure, you might feel that sense of belonging for a few hours or even weeks. But no matter how great it feels at first—the community, the church, the workplace, the relationship—eventually, the honeymoon will be over. That nagging feeling will creep over you that things just don’t quite fit. They’re not really working out. You don’t really belong, and it’s time to make a change.
President and First Lady Obama are the popularly elected leaders of the most powerful nation on earth—there’s no higher or better place to go in terms of success and the approval of millions of people—and based on recent interviews, they still apparently feel like they don’t fit in, like they’re not accepted. You think you’re going to be any different?
I don’t mean to belittle the small-mindedness and discrimination many people face in this world, and I don’t mean to bum you out—but here’s a thought: Maybe we don’t feel like we belong…because we don’t. Maybe we were created for a different earth, one where the pure light you see around you is the reflection of God’s glory. One nourished by living water, available to all, that never runs dry. A world where there is no more hunger, no more tears. A world where we are fully known and know we have finally arrived in the place for which we were created.
Maybe we belong in the new heaven and earth Jesus promised he would create for us.
He promised. “If it were not so, I would have told you,” he said to his friends, his disciples. I don’t know what fire burned in his eyes when he looked at them and said those words. I don’t know what his tone of voice was. But it must have been powerful, because they staked their lives on those words and went to their deaths believing him.
Maybe when we have brief moments of belonging, of sweet communion with those around us, that fleeting soul mate joy when we look into a friend or lover’s eyes and feel completely understood—maybe that’s a glimpse of the eternity we were made for. Ever considered that? I’ll happily not belong here if it means I belong there. Because there means joy, belonging and the love of a loving God, and as Jesus’ friend, Peter said, “Love can make up for just about anything.”
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.’” John 14:6
“…if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:2,3
“But according to his promise, we are looking for a new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” II Peter 3:13
“Therefore, be alert and prayerful. Above all, keep fervent love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” I Peter 4:7,8