There I was, walking into the pottery shop with my dear friends the Williams. Each year, during the Christmas season, this little Brevard, NC pottery shop opens its doors and invites the public in for a free fired mug, the sizes and shapes and colors as varied and unique as snowflakes. It was my turn to find one, a perfect cup that I knew would call my name.
Many assorted cups greeted me as I looked along the shelves. I grabbed a few–drawn to the blue hues–but knew they weren’t right. I almost felt like Indiana Jones searching for the Holy Grail as my fingertips wandered along the cups. Which one to choose? Finally I found it. It was on the third shelf, shoulder length to me. It was a simple upright cup, blue as the sky, with ridges embedded along its outside and a solid fired clay bottom. Looking around, I grabbed it, felt it in my hand, and knew it was love at first sight. This cup was mine. I was going to take it home and remember that little pottery cup. It was going to belong to me.
There are few times in this world when I can remember a strong sense of belonging. Unlike the cup, which will receive its fair share of loving adoration, I have always felt out of place. When I was younger, I remember trying desperately to belong to the older crowd. I would volunteer for church related things that adults would do normally. When I was seven or eight, I filled out a card at my small Baptist church in Oregon saying that I wanted to become a Deacon. The church, realizing that a seven year old was a little young to fill the job of deaconship, allowed me to be the offering usher instead. Once during a service, it was my turn. And I was the best youngest usher they probably ever had. Growing older, I felt uneasy with my contemporaries, desperately trying to be the ‘funny guy’ so that I was liked and asked to stick around. I always had my posse of faithful followers, and I’m so glad they chose to hang around with me. But it never felt like I belonged. It always felt so pushed.
In college, I got some small tastes of belonging with my campus ministry and even in the crowd at the Digital Media Center. Though there were some times when I felt alienated from those places, while the next day I felt essential to the operation. I tried a variety of roles, introducing new things and being the head of friendship groups, only to have those fluctuate back and forth, some failing completely. Even in the article entitled “The gathering of the team”, I alluded to my strong wishing to be part of a core group, the closeness of which would bring us through anything.
Being a part of the “Manpartment” has been a huge part of my rumbling insecurities. The original three part Man Team of Logan, Cobalt, and I was great, and got even greater with the addition of Travis Hall a year later. The manpartment has always stuck through many things; from movie nights and cooking to relationship frustrations and snoring sleepers! Not to mention the ever-steady presence of my best friend Paul, who has been integral in my life since my first semester here. Looking back on these times, I am grateful.
But what about a bigger sense of belonging? Something more long term? Is there such a thing? This last weekend with the aforementioned family in Brevard has been one of the sweetest weekends I’ve had in my life. But that, as well, is temporary and fleeting. My heart cries out to hold onto those moments, and yet they slip out of my grasp like the screaming heroine is lost down a cliff face when the hero just can’t hold any longer. Sound like a horrible thing? It is in my mind! These feelings of belonging do their best to disappear down the cliff face no matter how hard I hold on. Will I ever find that place–that people group–that wife–who will stick with me through thick and thin? To adventure and to wait? To be still and to go? Etc. Etc. Etc.
I sure hope so. I’d love to feel like I belong. A man once prophesied over me that someday I would find a place where I would be content and satisfied like few people have ever experienced before. I’d sure like that to happen. Contentment and satisfaction are words far removed from the narrative of my life. Perhaps this will come with belonging.
Still no word on jobs yet.
Till then, I have a beautiful little blue pottery mug that I’m going to go love on. At least something knows it belongs.
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