As I am writing this, our country and the world at large are going through an unsettling and disorienting time of dealing with COVID-19. Perhaps the idea of writing about connection and belonging may seem a bit untimely, as we are now in the midst of learning the “graces” of social distancing and seeking new and different activities to fill our days, while confined to our houses. However, I know that the subject remains a relevant topic for us all. Simply put, we are all connected and we need to know and feel that we belong. Without a sense of belonging in our lives, of feeling connected with others around us, we can wither and die, just the same as if we didn’t have food or water or shelter. This is a fact of life and these trying times are highlighting that need.
Connections and the Kingdom of God
In Romans 12: 4-5 we read, “For as in one body, we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” We were created to be in relationship with God and with each other, as one family, each of us belonging to the whole. Just as we all are raised in our own specific families, we are part of the larger family of man. The Bible describes this connection as each of us making up the various parts of one collective body. As members of this body, we have different roles to play. When we seek to determine God’s plan for us and to use our unique gifts in concert with others, we feel that bond of belonging and connection. Working together while using our various talents provides the coordination that is necessary for the whole to succeed. The whole, in this case, is the kingdom of God.
In my extended family, I have the role of memorabilia keeper or family archivist (I am sure that my being OCD and a pack rat had NOTHING whatsoever to do with my receiving that title). My attic is the repository for all sorts of photos, diaries, letters and knick-knacks, etc. I call it the “Cobb-Webb Archives,” a play on our family names since my mother was a Cobb who married a Webb. I have recently been reading through some of the letters that my mom and dad exchanged when dad was stationed in France during WWII. They have certainly provided a window into that period of time in our history, but one unmistakable element in them was the obvious need to feel connection and belonging. I know that during that time, thousands of letters passed back and forth between families at home and soldiers abroad, all in the attempt to somehow diminish the impact that the separation had on their lives. Their letters were the only means of reaching out to demonstrate their love and connection.
Connections and Family
Right now, while we’re “separated/self-quarantined/shut away from others” we have a number of means available to stay connected with everyone. We can FaceTime or Skype, send emails or texts, call, or even go old-school and write letters. I know some people who had been resisting joining Facebook but who have now joined it in order to increase those feelings of connection. I especially have loved the funny videos and memes that have been circulating, since enjoying some shared laughter in these uncertain times is most therapeutic!
One aspect of our separation is the inevitable creation within us of a sense of loss or sadness. We need those daily reminders that we’re all family, that we matter to others, and that they matter to us. God surely has created us for family, for belonging. Regardless of our current situation, He is always with us and will guide us as we make our way in these uncertain times. As He reaches out to us so we, in turn, must reach out to others in His name. That is what connection and belonging are all about, and that is why they are priceless gifts that we can give and receive.