February 22, 2014
Where do I belong?
As a child, I craved a huge, jovial, welcoming, extended family since that wasn’t what I was dealt. We lived on a hill, not in a real neighborhood, so except for my siblings, I had no real community to belong to. I envied friends their large, noisy family life with all the teasing, affection, and commitment.
It seems the urge to be connected to others, to share a sense of unity with them, is one of the strongest for both humans and animals. I have tried many spiritual paths and sought community with each one. Maybe I changed along the journey, and that’s why each answer I discovered wound up being insufficient.
I kept searching. I’m still searching, and I’m still finding.
I wanted to find my center, my purpose, and to belong to something. Could I look to my Unitarian upbringing where anything goes and it’s all good as long as we’re intelligent and nice to each other? But I wanted to know more about God, about the trajectory of the soul, about transcendence.
Could it be in transcendental meditation or reincarnation theories? Though I didn’t find it there, I had a little Zen thing happening for a while. That was nice, but I ached to explore outside the prison of my self. And what about God? Real or myth?
I thought I found it in the strict confines of a Pentecostal born-again experience. But something was lost in translation from my intensely personal awakening to the group-think arena. I tried and failed to fit in when told I must enlighten those who were not Pentecostals or they would surely miss the opportunity to truly know God. I was sad to leave such fervent, caring people. Openness called and I answered.
I visited synagogues and found an unusual one—a Messianic congregation. Ah-ha. This could be it. I carried a heart full of love for God and his Messiah and thought perhaps the unity I craved would meet the transcendence I had found in God. That worked for a while. But there was still this “us and them” talk—those who believe arranged on one team and those who don’t on the other.
Am I just too weird to fit in anywhere? I recently decided this was the case and rather than burden those who were thriving in the Messianic congregations, evangelical churches, Pentecostal churches, Unitarian churches, Chabad and Reform synagogues, or the New Age groups, I opted to stay home to study, pray, and sort through it on my own. Of course I worried that I might lose my faith altogether if I didn’t regularly darken the door of some kind of house of worship.
I worried that the answer to “Where do I belong?” would be “Nowhere.”
Instead, just the opposite proved true. The easy and difficult answer is “Everywhere.”