Free to Belong {#31 Days of Freedom}

“I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father…so there will be be one flock, one shepherd.” ~John 10.14, 16b

Junior High. There I said it, two of the world’s most provocative words.

I’ve never met anyone who recalls Junior High as being the best years of their life. No, no, no. Far from it. Junior High is a miserable time of awakening to our humanity. Slowly. Painfully. One brutal peer insult at a time.

One thing that every Junior Higher knows for certain–more than the likelihood that the sun will rise in the morning or that the clock will issue its next tick or tock–is that no one really belongs. Everyone is a misfit. Quickly on the inside, quicker still cast out. Weapons of negative competition, gossip, backstabbing, and one up-manship parade up and down the halls taking prisoners and claiming victims. Nobody’s place is secure.

You remember it, right? Yeah, I know, sometimes, in some places, it feels like were eternally trapped in it. I’ve had places where it has been made clear that I am not “one of them.” Times where I have been momentarily tolerated, but not embraced and included. Exclusion–all the little nuances we communicate to let others know they’ve been denied access to important places–is a degrading reminder of our vulnerable places.

Belonging is a most basic human need. We all need people–the ones who draw us in, just.as.we.are, and say, “You are one of us.” While we are much better at identifying what separates and divides us, our heart is shaped to lean toward what unites us. It was designed to belong, to be one–an essential one–among many who are confident and safe in the assurance of acceptance, value, and worth.

Jesus is the One whose rod and staff draws our hearts to the true place of belonging. Not where it must be earned or deserved. Or where there is the risk of loss. Jesus speaks, “You are mine.” In our Shepherd’s pasture there is peace, unity, and security. All belong. All are safe.  Known and owned {as a priceless purchased}, loved and accepted.

Belonging sets us free. Belonging to Jesus is to be free indeed!

This month I’m participating with The Nester in her 31 Days challenge to write every day on a topic of choice. I’m writing this month on how Jesus make us free.

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