I belong with you, you belong with me.
Belonging. That's something been the struggle for a long time. Like when you can't seem to find your place, your groove, your people. It's not that the ones you have now aren't enough. That's not it at all.
It's that there's a secret place in your heart that's been growing and it's needs a place to bloom. When you're tired of bearing this part of yourself all alone, and you know it needs other people, but you don't know where to find them.
When you’re tired of the game, of walking into a place and this cookie cutter conversation happening.
“How are you?”
“Good. How are you?”
Good. Ugh. Aren’t you so sick of that word?
And I don’t know how to get around it.
I have laid on the floor and cried out to God for a place because this just doesn’t fit. I know that sounds selfish, but nowhere feels right. I try to make it work. I really do. It feels okay for a while. Like a bandaid over a little paper cut.
But what happens when the paper cut becomes a broken heart?
And not a broken heart in a romantic sense but a broken heart as in I am wrecked and nothing works and why can't you see me? Why can't you ask more than one question? Why can't we stop playing games and get down and dirty with this thing called life? Why can't we just stop all the niceties and dare to get real for one moment, dare to show what’s underneath the smiles and the compliments and surface-level conversations?
I just want to say, “You think you know me but you don't. And I want to know you but are you up for that? Are you ready for ugly cries and battle scars and army crawling together through the mess?”
I knew the Pursuit conference was a place for me, because I’d been there once before. Where my eyes were opened to the glimpses of real community.
And this year, conversation never stopped. People would ask me questions and I’d give the Spark Notes Answer. Really simple, an overview. I didn’t fully realize I was even doing it until it was their turn to share. Because they took their time telling their story. And I was fascinated.
I had started to believe that people asked questions just to be polite. That even when they did ask, they didn’t really want to hear the response.
And that's how good was born. Because people ask questions they don't really want answers to and we give answers that satisfy their needs.
So I sat on a step overlooking a lake, starring at the stars one night and admitted to my roommate, sobs choking up my words:
"I am overwhelmed by the amount of people here who see me. Who make me feel known."
Girls I had just met helped me crash a heart-to-heart in a tent full of twinkle lights. And none of us knew each other but we laughed. The kind of laugh that gets down into your bones. And you don't really know why it's so funny only that it feels so good to let go.
We shared stories that made us look at each other and say, “You too? I know exactly how you feel.” And we had breakfast conversations that sparked tears and moments that rattled our souls and experiences that were too cool to be anything but God. I was inspired by the vulnerability of so many women and left speechless by how another heart could so intimately know my own in an instant.
Suddenly it was the last night and we were all sprawled out in the grass, munching pop corn and cotton candy, laughing like kids. I introduced myself to two women, so they sat down with me on a blanket under the stars and got straight to it. What has God been doing in you this week? Do you feel like you got what you needed? Is he pushing you towards something? What do you feel called to do? What’s your heart?
All of these things. And for whatever reason, instead of dancing around the answers, like is so easy to do with strangers, I just shared the real and honest truth. The words that came out of my mouth were surprising me, like I hadn't fully realized it until the moment I spoke them aloud.
What moved me more than the realizations about myself was the authenticity of the women sitting across from me. How they chose to crowd together on a blanket on the lawn, to bump hips and knees in the dark. How they cut to the core of me so easily and quickly and suddenly became little angels on my shoulder, cheering me on.
I wrote to the ladies in our Facebook group a few days before the conference about how I couldn't wait to sit criss-cross applesauce next to them and hear their hearts and swap stories. I wanted to do that for someone else, anyone. I had a very clear picture of what it was going to look like.
Instead, other women did that very thing for me, when I least expected it. And I don't think I even realized that until this very moment.
Gosh, just show up. Chase after magical meetings in tents at midnight and ask people to join your blanket under the stars. Ask better questions and then really listen to the answers. And don't hold back. Cry at breakfast. Let someone’s soul fire rattle you to your core. Tell the honest, ugly truth when possible. Because that story may be just what someone else needs to hear.
As I've been crying for community I had this idea in my head of how it looked. I feel so much like an outcast much of the time, so I thought community was partly about having the same likes and dislikes. (Goodness I'm just looking for people who know who Jamestown Revival is). I thought it was about finding people who look like you, who dress the same way, who like what you like, because, maybe, that would in some way connect you and would hopefully mean your hearts were in the same place.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe community can be built around these things. But man go man, can it be just as rich if it’s not.
Here I am, the girl that has permanent black fingernails and lives in combat boots, and God gave me girls that love pink and that monogram everything. Those are not the friends I would have chosen out of a crowd of people. But He needed to get me to a place where I understood that all of that stuff, the clothes, the loves, the commonalties, they mean nothing if it all doesn’t point to something deeper, something that matters.
Sometimes He gives you people that share a love of Jesus and a heart that beats the same as yours. And that means more. So much more.
Oh friends. Just when you think the loneliness will be a forever kind of thing. Just when you give up on believing that there will even be a place for you, He shows up. He dips your toes into the deep waters of all that community could be. Should be.
And you walk into a place and have people calling you by name. They scream and run towards you and you get lost in a shuffle of arms and bear hugs and squeals.
And you have someone look at you and say “You’re not leaving yet, are you?” As if it would be less of place if you weren’t there, like they need just a few more moments by your side.
And it's the midnight meetings in tents full of twinkle lights and laugh-til-you-cry moments. It's meeting strangers and hearing your soul say, "yes, these are your people, you need them and they need you." It’s listening to people give voice to the whispers in your heart, time and time again. And you start to think, maybe I'm not crazy, maybe I'm not the only one. Maybe I'm not alone. And maybe, just maybe, I was made for more.
Maybe this place is your place. It's not made of bricks or walls and it's not a dot on the map, but it consists of hearts and quiet conversations and belly laughs and the kind of connection that weaves across the miles, that creates something much bigger than ourselves.
This… this become a safe place to dwell. A place to belong.