Today I was an astronaut, checking my colleague had correctly applied his helmet before BLAST OFF, then interrupted by two pirates wondering if I could be a ticking crocodile again. I declined as 10 minutes earlier I had been left alone on the pirate ship, in my pirate hat with hookhand and telescope, looking like I’d lost the plot on a child’s climbing frame! So I carried on pushing my astronaut on the swing.
The park, with three kids, quickly becomes the park with more kids when you really PLAY! When I was Blackbeard on my pirate ship I had three other kids ask me and my nephew, Kohl, if they could be pirates too. Kohl is never on his own for very long, because he is FUN! He lives in Neverland and will take you with him-as long as you’re in character! People of all ages follow him and join in the role because you enter the realm of belonging.
Last weekend I went to a conference called Cherish in Leeds with my friend Lauren and some lovely women. It was awesome; 5,000 women descended on the city. We all had a coloured wristband on so in the breaks, in shops you’d see other women in wristbands and have a knowing smile that you’d both been at the conference that morning. You’d sit down for a meal and hear women on the next table taking about the session just passed. You’d get in the elevator at the hotel-clock the wristband and suddenly the awkward silence of ‘lifts’ was broken as you discuss the conference. Women you’d never normally connect with, you joined them and opened up, because of a wristband-because you felt you belonged.
Sunday night I surprised my husband with the most epic present for his 30th (it’s in October but I’m making sure he ends his 20s in style) COLDPLAY TICKETS! We went to the gig and loved every minute. We were given these colourful light wristbands which glowed and changed colour in songs. Looked beautiful.
Once we were in our car driving out, we saw people all over the streets and felt connected to them-because they were wearing their wristband! Even a long drive up the road, people running out in front of the car, I had more grace for them because they’d been (drinking) at Coldplay-and I too had been at Coldplay! Walking down the streets to the car, men started singing and hundreds joined in, we were singing in the streets with strangers, part of a huge group because we had a common love of Coldplay and had experienced the same evening. We had our wristbands-we belonged.
The word belong has been on my heart since Cherish. I started writing this post on Wednesday and have felt it being added to through the week. The word ‘belong‘ keeps coming up or being seen – where do I belong?
To feel you belong is such a gift. It brings security and a sense of togetherness. Yet so often our society is moving away from community into living more singularly, deluded that we belong due to Facebook and Instagram. I actually love Facebook & Instagram. I only accept close friends because I post all the time (yeah, I’m that girl). I share my life and love seeing what my friends and family are up to. The popular thing nowadays seems to be to slate it and call-out these ‘insta lives portrayed through a filter’ when really we are all crying alone at home.
I hope that isn’t true! I don’t look at a photo of a friend with her cute baby and think ‘Oh I bet her life is just perfect’. I think, ‘Oh good, I’m seeing a shared moment of joy’.
Of course she also has sick on her top or was up all night, that’s life, yet I love to see the moments of joy!
Social media lives are a way of belonging, linking to each other. Yet of course it’s not enough, a snack not a meal.
Life is full of moments of joy and I think we need to capture them, especially if you have a terrible memory like me. I forget what I did this morning – never mind this time last year. I love to look back, see and remember moments.
It happened yesterday as Facebook reminded me of something I wrote 2yrs ago, a blogpost about a girl I worked with in prison and a very difficult time. Looking back on it I remembered now that God had actually protected this woman and she wasn’t guilty of this crime and started to get the help she needed. Remembering prison I started to feel like I really belonged in there-working in there! I loved those women and it has been a constant thing to hand over 6yrs of relationships over and over.
This is the sign as I walk upstairs to my room as I was thinking again about where I belong. Is it in my family, I bought this sign for my son. When we have a house it will go in his room so he always knows he belongs to me and I belong to him. I remember seeing it and almost crying as it so said all I want him to know and feel. Next to it is this picture;
I belong to my husband too. We chose each other and have committed to be with each other for life. At this stage in life where we don’t have our own home (living with my parents), to know where I belong often comes back to what these two pictures represent. My little family, I belong with them. Yet I think God has a further step for us. He knows it is important for the core of us to know that we belong. I think our society is full of people trying to ‘find themselves’ when the only true answer is in finding God, and when all else fades away, that we are found in Him.
He is my security, He is the one who never lets me go, He is the one who can handle my anger and confusion and hurt and loves me anyway and guides me through, He is the one whose kindness is so intricate and peace comes just in the right way at the right time. He is the one I feel safe with, who is infinitely wise and passionately just. Who cares for me beyond even the care of my mother and whose protection of me is fiercer than my father’s. He can change everything with one touch and nothing is too much or too hard for Him. He never grows tired or weary, His promises are true and unchanging. He is all I could need and He chose me and called me His. I am my beloveds and He is mine. It is with Him that I belong… I just need to get Closer
So I’ll come, come back to where I belong
Home in your presence into your arms,
Father to you I come
(Please watch and listen to the song on the link and come back to where you belong)
Really encouraging and inspiring HANNAH. Thanks for sharing your heart….xx
Thank you Paulette x