Belonging has always been a huge theme for me. The idea of coming home, and knowing I have a place there, and will be accepted as myself. In this season of rebuilding after feeling torn up by my roots, I am coming to terms with this longing for a place to belong. Part of this process involves confronting my worries about death and what is to come after the certainty of this life, and thankfully, my pastor has just begun a series on this topic.
On Sunday morning, I woke up with the sensation of peace all around me. It felt a bit like lying on an air mattress on a hot summer day in a lake when a boat zooms by, creating gentle waves which toss you to and fro as you relax, your mind an empty space. I heard the song Welcome Home, from Michael W. Smith's newest album Wonder, as clear as could be, with its beautiful chorus, "This is where you belong...welcome home."
The song is about dying, and coming home, and finding that elusive place to belong. For the first time, I felt peaceful about this difficult subject, and on the verge of surrender to what is beyond my control and understanding. We went to church, and I listened intently to my pastor's topic of the resurrection of Jesus, and what that concept would have meant to the Jewish culture in the first century, and that feeling of peace never left me.
We all want to belong. To be accepted and loved unconditionally for the broken people we are. In this life, it becomes challenging to be loved in this manner, and to love others the way they need to be loved. But I'm coming to understand that God can always love me this way, and in fact always has, from the beginning of time. My acceptance of what comes after death is tied into this understanding. Having the answers begins to be less important than recognizing that God loves me, and is in charge of what will happen to me, and if I trust him, I can surrender my fear.
My answer to this problem has always been to bury it a little deeper within myself; to say, "I'm young and don't have to think about that yet." But it's like facing my fear of flying: I don't want to wait until the moment I board the plane to deal with it, or I waste the months of happy anticipation leading up to the trip. I want to live my life on earth with purpose and clarity and as much love and kindness as possible.
I believe that how I live now has a connection to whatever might come later, and I want to make this time count. I also want to feel peace and joy when I look ahead to the coming years, and not fear and worry. I don't understand the intricacies of the connection, but I believe there is one, and that gives weight and meaning to my choices now.
I am grateful for this peace. It has been a long time in coming, and I know it's a work in progress. There is more to understand, and accept, and believe, but for now, the answers I was seeking have lost their importance, and I've replaced my need for certainty with relationship. I am loved by God, and he will take care of me, so the fear can recede and be replaced by a quiet thankfulness and joy. This is where I belong. Right here and now; loved and hopeful and not controlled by fear any longer.