BELONGING ~ 5/11/10

As a missionary kid, I’ve frequently struggled to find my place of belonging. Born in an African country, but not African (My Gabonese friends always wondered about my freckles. Were they a disease? No, I say, they are delayed blackness; when I’m older they’ll all grow together and I’ll be black like you.). Possessing an American birth certificate but feeling homesick every second away from African soil. Able to speak French and sing “Born in the USA” but able to claim neither French heritage nor the right to sing that thoroughly American song. My parents weren’t even born in the U.S.A, for goodness sakes. Neither was one of my grandparents.

Where do I belong?

I was not born here, but now I live here. And so someone innocently asks me, “Where are you from?”—this… is the dreaded question. Eyes glaze over when I bring up Africa, so let’s just say I stick with the continental U.S— which state do I claim? The one my great-grandparents came from? The one where I went to college? The one where I went to seminary? Or the one where I spent my summer vacations while my parents continued their ministry overseas?

Where do I belong?

Either way, I’ve been told I’m living in the wrong state. “You’d probably fit-in better in Alaska,” one person said; ‘maybe in the summers,’ I think. I’ve had people tell me I was born in the wrong time. “You should have lived back in the days of Livingstone,” someone said to me once. Well… as cool as that would be, it doesn’t help me find belonging; dead people have a cold way about them. Someone else even told me I was born in the wrong generation. Now technically, I think I’m part of Generation X, but according to this person, it was clear I related better with the Baby Boomer Generation. ‘Wow,’ I remember thinking—‘I don’t even have a generation.’

Where do I belong?

Maybe you feel this way sometimes. Maybe you feel adrift, or alone, like you don’t fit-in or like you’re not part of anything that matters, part of a loving community or a family that looks like the Norman Rockwell prints on the walls of Hometown Buffet. Maybe you’re a missionary kid like me, or perhaps a pastor’s kid, maybe even a military brat. Maybe your parents moved a lot and you never put down roots. Or maybe you never had a stable family at all. Perhaps you did have a good family, lots of friends, but you’ve burned so many bridges behind you you feel there’s no way back. Your talents aren’t valued, your opinions aren’t respected, your passions aren’t recognized... you feel isolated, and alone.

Where do you belong?

Have you read Romans 7 lately? There’s a simple little verse there, stashed away between several great monoliths of soteriology, that grabs the tossing ship that is my life and anchors me, every time I read it. It goes like this…

4”So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.”

I belong, and you belong, but none of us belongs primarily to a place, or a time, or even to a generation… Primarily, what matters before anything else and shapes everything else and informs everything else about me— who I am and who I will become— is that, as a Child of God, I belong to a person. If you are a Child of God, You belong to a person. And His name is Jesus.

I "belong to another." I belong— to Jesus.

Surrounded By Grace,


  1. ...I was asked to talk to a bunch of 8th graders in a couple of weeks in Ashland...about 2 weeks ago I couldn't sleep and I'm almost sure I heard God say...."who are you?"....that was what I was supposed to talk to the kids about. I have always struggled with this question and at times believed the lies of Satan that I am no one special....why would anyone want to love me. I have been looking and listening and reading everything that has to do with this subject and this blog was perfect....after I stopped crying.....I realized that even though I do know where I was born...I was given up....Without the saving knowledge of Jesus...I would not be able to say "whose" I am....I too belong to Jesus and that makes me the most loved of all....I just need to be reminded of that. Thank you for your vulnerable heart.....and I'm pretty sure you would be better off in Weaverville....not Alaska.....too cold!

  2. First, I would love to know what soteriology means. That word is a little above my head. :) Second, I would like to say Amen! I always seem to be struggling with these questions or opinions that no one values me "properly". These are lies from Satan.
    Josh, you have a wonderful family who gave you a wonderfully different childhood. You are a white African!! That is soo cool! Keep your chin up.

  3. ...BTW...hope I can use a little of your blog??? It has inspired me!

  4. Ernie ~ Soteriology is the study of the doctrine of salvation. Soteriology discusses how Christ's death secures the salvation of those who believe.

    Anonymous ~ Permission granted! Glad it was helpful.

    BTW: In case anyone is wondering, I DO have a wonderful family and have never regretted my childhood. Wouldn't change a thing! :)

  5. Thank you....actually I have "stealing" many things from the various websites you look at...very helpful....but now I probably have too much information (I get a little distracted with my thoughts at times)....don't want the kids to fall asleep while roasting smores....or do I? More for me? Thanks again for your insight.

  6. oops....forgot the word "been"....just insert it where it belongs.... ; ) LONG DAY.....

  7. It's amazing how God seems to work themes into his people. I just spoke on something similar to Romans 7 two Sundays ago at our church during Communion. In that, the communion table is not about us, where we come from, or what we are struggling with... because we belong to someone else. Communion is about remembrance of Him and His sacrifice, not the law, because that was/is fulfilled.


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*Grace induces faith & Grace is obligated to faith ~