This article is one I have mulled through in my mind for quite a while, because quite frankly, it’s heavy. As school starts, many turn over a new leaf of sorts. I can remember doing that with intentionality halfway through my 7th grade and again when I went to college. I was tired of ‘fitting in’ and wanted to ‘belong’. I had to choose, in junior high, to either be made fun of or join with the others who made fun. It seemed so black and white at the time, but looking back, it wasn’t. Then in college, I wanted to be a part of the fun but smart crowd. And you know what? I found out, once I started seeking HIM first, that my fun was different than most of my ‘friends’ fun, but also I found true relationships that were fun, and that smart was cool. So what’s the difference? Fitting in was always such a struggle, at least in my mind. In the beginning of life, it was being friends with whom my parents wanted me to be, whether they were truly who I connected with or not. In college and beyond, it was trying to befriend those that I thought I could help or who could help me with whatever social, career or other goal I had. Then as a parent, it became that struggle of being friends with the other parents who had influence at the school or whose kids were well liked and well behaved, etc. All of those things in and of themselves are not bad, unless you forget to whom and where you belong. And that was just it. Many of us get caught up in the fitting in and don’t spend the time to develop and nurture ‘belonging’. So what’s the difference? Belonging is knowing, beyond whatever anyone else believes and thinks about you, who you are. Belonging is elusive to many, but it can be quite simple. Who formed us? Who knew us before we were created? Who loves us with a greater love beyond anything we can experience with another human being? If you can ‘belong’ to something of someone who defines you, THAT is it. That relationship supersedes everything in life, including the husband/wife relationship, the parent/child relationships, the friend relationships, and the school/work/family relationships. Those other relationships are often places where we end up finding our niche, and ‘belong’ on this earth, but they very often change and disappoint (i.e. there are times in most of our lives where we don’t have a sense that we ‘fit in’ with our church or family). So as parents, as students returning to school and starting a new year fresh, let’s be comfortable and confident, knowing that whoever or whatever crosses our paths, we BELONG to HIM who never fails or changes or disappoints.