I stopped to visit a friend in the neighborhood on my way home from the bakery one day. It had been a while since I checked in with her, and I didn’t realize her husband had come home from his work assignment out of the city. I simultaneously called out her named and popped my head around the sheet she hangs in her door of her one room home during the day time. I was surprised to see her husband and two friends sitting down eating heaping plates of dal bhat.
My friend was on the opposite bed with her sleeping son and invited me to sit down where she had been sitting. As she went to make me a cup of tea, the interrogation began. They grilled me on all the usual topics and then some. It was embarrassing and exhausting. She could not come back into the room fast enough! When she arrived, I quickly sipped my tea and caught up with her as well as I could. I tried my best to avoid any more questions from the three amigos. What I had hoped would be a time of connection with a friend turned into a very frustrating encounter. I didn’t savor the last drop of milk tea. I slurped it down as fast as I could, and said something in my second language like, “Oh, look at the time.”
It’s moments like these that cut right to my heart. I think things like, I don’t belong here. I don’t understand this culture. I’m not a friend — I’m just a novelty. As much as I love living here, there are times when the reality of what it’s like to live in a culture not your own hits home. And it hurts. I feel small and forgotten.
I fall into the trap of thinking that this friend or this house or this level of language ability will finally make me feel like I belong. Maybe if our ministry takes off, and my schedule fills up with opportunities to teach and train, I will feel fulfilled. But in all these cases, my thinking is wrong. The truth is, if I ever make my home in this world, it stands on shaky soil. The US or any other place I reside should not have my heart. My heart should always be in heaven. I find my belonging in Christ alone.
That friend or that house or that coveted lifestyle can make me no promises, but my Lord Jesus has made a few.
For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness (Psalm 107:9).
And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst (John 6:35).
The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever (Psalm 22:26).
He alone can satisfy the longings of my soul. My home is in heaven with him. My heart will always feel the tension of my desire to serve Him on earth and dwell with Him in my forever home. This is true whether I’m in my home country or on foreign soil. Until He renders my service here complete and takes me to spend eternity with Him, I’ll continue to faithfully stumble my way through this life of ministry and all its awkward encounters. Trusting that His promises are true, I’ll find my belonging and satisfaction in Christ alone.
I “make” God big in my life when I find my belonging in Him alone. When I trust Him to satisfy my soul in the smallness of my life with the vastness of His love, I will find the contentment I am lacking.
In what places have you searched for belonging and come up short?
Talk to me in the comment section below!