The Christmas season can be such a beautiful time of the year; twinkling lights, festive decorations, nostalgic music, fun parties and too much tasty food. It can also be a painful time because it often highlights losses. The loss of a loved one or the absence of those who have moved on, through divorce or moving away, can be devastating . We may feel off balance – something just isn’t right, or the way it used to be. This time of year shines a light on feeling that we may not belong where we used to or feel we should, in our own family. Sometimes we can feel like we don’t belong anywhere.
I grew up with a house full of people, 10 people to be exact, and now I have little in common with any of them. But I do love them. , I stay in touch with phone calls and occasional visits, but often these feel superficial, like I am not able bring all of myself to the party. If I try, they seem to shift around uneasily, changing the subject. So I focus on the good parts of the past (what we do have in common) and avoid anything too deep. But it is often unsatisfying. I had to come to terms with being a “part” of a family, but not actually feeling like I “belonged” anymore (did I ever?). As I struggled with this, I found relief in learning that my family of origin is not necessarily my “tribe” as in “my” people, or “my” community. Your family may not be your tribe either. Try that on. Some members of your family might be part of your tribe but just as likely, they are not. And it’s okay. Perhaps they were never intended for that purpose. Doesn’t mean they are bad in anyway. Just not people I would want to be on a deserted island with. Fortunately, I have been able to figure out how to love them, stay in touch but not try to “belong”. This has been freeing for me. But our desire to belong still remains.
When I saw that Brene Brown had a new book on Belonging, I raced to get it. Well, not actually raced, more like, quickly visited Amazon and purchased a copy of “Braving the Wilderness”. I love buying books on Amazon. I always find it is much cheaper to purchase books from Amazon than from book stores these days. Besides, no one wants to purchase a book, only to find out that it was on sale for half price somewhere else! Whenever I order books from Amazon, I also like to check for any promo codes or coupons too. Accordingly, if you would like to order this book from Amazon, you can go here to see if there are any promo codes that you can use to get a discount on your order. That being said, this book was a good read. After all, we all long to belong. Belonging is a topic that comes up with my friends and coaching clients often… I have even begun initiating this conversation on belonging with friends, including my dear friend Henry Cloud. (see the video in this newsletter). During that conversation, Henry made an interesting connection for me on this topic. He said that when Adam & Eve sinned, they suddenly no longer belonged in the garden. Their wrong choice had cut them off from God and Paradise. They were banished from the only home they knew. Banished from the presence of God, their close friend. How awful they must have felt. They no longer belonged. Yes, we all know that God provided His son Jesus, to make atonement for their sins, and our sins, so we could belong to the family of God. And I am grateful He did. But something got broken and now “belonging” remains a struggle for so many of us. Our need to belong is deep within us.
It is worthwhile to examine how you feel about true belonging. Who are the people in your life that you consider to be your real family? Where you can bring all of yourself, the good parts, the hurt parts, and the bad parts? The people who love you, without judgement and accept you as you are but continue to push you to be your best? My hope is that you will spend time this Christmas season with more of those kinds people. If you do, you will feel a sense of true belonging. Make this the gift to yourself and your Christmas will be more joyful, and more satisfying. Don’t just do this for Christmas. Make it part of your strategy for living a rich, full and rewarding life.
Have a very Merry Christmas and a blessed and prosperous New Year!