Out of Place – Meredith’s Story
The idea of belonging was always a mystery for me. I’d thought of it in terms of ownership or membership. “Does this dog belong to you?” “She could fit all of her belongings into a small knapsack.” “With his flag planted in the ground, he declared this land now belonged to Spain.” There were times I had wanted nothing more than to belong (middle school, anyone?) and times I had consciously bucked against the suffocating idea that I could somehow be owned (bad breakups can do that to a person).
I grew up with parents in ministry and by the time I was 18, I had moved eight times, gone to seven different schools, and attended six different churches. As I write this, I’m 34 years old and have moved 20 more times since then, 12 of them with my husband and our two daughters, three of them cross-country. And to answer your question, yes, we have started saving for their future therapy bills.
I was a well-loved kid, close to my family, and made friends easily. Those friends, though, changed with our moves. With all of that change, having roots, having a place, “belonging”, became my favorite daydream. I imagined a life of permanence and the fulfillment I was sure that it would bring.
Finding my place
As a teenager, I worked hard to find my place in my small town and dug in deep. I joined clubs and committees and filled my calendar with social events. This would be my home. I had a place. This was connection. This was attachment. This was belonging.
Then college happened. With it came new people, a new place, and that bad breakup I mentioned. Everything that I thought I wanted changed. My plan didn’t make sense anymore. I decided to talk to Jesus. I remembered that he “[had] no place to lay his head”. I found a new daydream. No more roots for me. I wasn’t “of this world”. I wouldn’t get sucked into a monotonous life, fettered by earthly desires, passively losing sight of eternity. No, I would be free. Just me and Jesus. I cut off my hair and started looking up flights to Zimbabwe to start my new life of sacrifice.
Then I met a guy.
This guy was different, though. We shared our big ideas. We eloped. We wrote our own manifesto. No fear. Everyone else could have fun with their mortgages and book clubs, but we would never settle for less than the epic adventure that was the true Christian life. We had a purpose. This was connection. This was attachment. This was belonging.
Then we had a baby. Then we had another one.
A full night’s sleep became more appealing than an epic adventure. I traded my fauxhawk hairstyle and bare feet for a baby carrier and a Costco membership. My husband got a new job and bought shirts with buttons. Our manifesto got lost in a move. We paid rent, did laundry, and went to library story times.
God was with us, but we were lost. How did we let this happen? We were supposed to be better than this, stronger, more focused on eternity. Now we cared about things like the cost of toilet paper, minivan safety ratings, ballet recitals, and school districts.
Stagnation seemed to be creeping in from all sides. It felt wrong to want this life I was living, like I was getting too attached, like I wasn’t willing to sacrifice for the sake of the kingdom. But I kind of didn’t hate it.
Convinced that my new affinity for potlucks and the fact that I had still not been martyred for my faith was proof of my complacency, I asked God to forgive me and to rekindle the passion that would refocus my heart on Heaven. The more I thought about Heaven, though, the more I ended up thinking about Earth. I thought about how Jesus spent his time here.
God’s Presence as Belonging
Jesus knew the brokenness and beauty of this world and he chose to be fully immersed in it. With eyes on both eternity and Earth, he dug in deep. He took his first steps, built things with his hands, had best friends, spent time alone, healed broken bodies, wept, loved his mother, talked to his Father, went to parties, napped, talked to children, savored food and wine, suffered rejection and pain, walked on water, died, resurrected. He allowed himself to live fully in both the mundane and the supernatural. This was his purpose. He was connected. He was attached. But he knew he didn’t belong.
When I see the ways he lived here and the ways he commands us to, I see a stunning and powerful freedom, a freedom that invites us to live beyond the constraints of extremes. My time here takes on a new meaning. I’m not chasing after anything; just following him. I’m released from trying to create a connection through committees and calendars. I don’t have to be in constant pursuit of radical experiences or achievements to prove my dedication or God’s presence.
This isn’t where I belong. By God’s grace, I can experience his presence here, in all of the great and unremarkable moments I’m granted. Whether I spend the day playing with my kids or praying for someone’s healing, becoming part of the underground church or eating breakfast, I get to do it all with him. He’s leading me here. He’s leading me home.
With eyes on both eternity and Earth, I can dig in deep to the ordinary and the adventurous with him, enjoying his nearness now and looking forward to its future fullness. When I’m with him, I don’t have to worry about finding my place or chasing down my purpose because, in Christ, I find both. In him, I am connected. In him, I am attached. In him, I belong.
If you’ve ever felt like you don’t belong, this series is for you! Every Monday, we’ll hear from someone who has also struggled to belong. Be sure to subscribe below to get The Scoop so you never miss a post! As a thank you, you’ll receive access to belonging-themed scripture cards and adult coloring pages in the free for you library!
Meet Meredith Cox
Meredith Cox was born in Boston, raised in Florida, and now lives in Texas with her storm-chasing husband, two magical daughters, and a collection of dying houseplants. She loves people, Jesus, living in the power of Grace, and chocolate. You can say “Hi” to her on instagram or facebook.