I have writtn several times about knowing, being known. Belonging is on the same wavelength and no less common to all mankind, no less a desire of every heart. We want to belong to someone, something.
I see this daily with my middle school students. Clothes and music and activities and even the words they speak are shouting out, "Where do I fit? Where do I belong?" As 12 and 13 year olds, they are beginning to see and understand that they belong to a world bigger than themselves. Younger children know they are part of a family, but in the middle years these young people are seeking friendship and acceptance outside of family.
This week we watched Newsies, a live-action Disney musical from the early nineties. I love this movie! I was explaining to my students how Jack is learning that he is part of a family that is broader than family; his mother is dead and his father is in jail, but these newsies are his family: the older ones protect and fight for the younger ones, and they all back each other up. At one point Jack says, "I'm not used to having it matter to anyone whether I stay or I go, and I'm not saying it should matter to you...but does it? Matter?" He is speaking to The Girl at that point, but it is my belief that when he decides, in the end, to stay, it is as much for the other boys as for her.
I explained to my students that modern gangs are much the same as that pack of newsies. In cities where poverty runs rampant and drugs or work -- or any number of things -- keep parents from being engaged in the lives of their children, those young people seek belonging wherever they can find it. Gangs provide that: you belong with us, and no one will mess with you as long as we're around, and you always have a place here. And just like my students will wear and listen to and watch what helps them fit in with the group, members of gangs do whatever it takes to keep that belonging. But with so little to hope for, their stakes are much higher.
God wants Christians to provide that hope, that belonging.
Galatians 3:26 - 29:
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
For several years now I have been battling a disease that causes chronic pain, fatigue, and despair. And yet I can rejoice in it because God has shown His love to me through His people. I know I belong to something bigger and greater than myself because these Christians, these friends, this family of God, bring me meals, help me get to the doctor, clean my house, and generally make me feel loved.
Like I belong.
And I am grateful.
Detroit is a city with little hope and much darkness. It is a despair that I, in my sheltered, albeit pained, existence find hard to comprehend. But it is no less dark because I can't understand it.
KLOVE and World Hope are working to turn that around. Please read about and pray for the upcoming Hope Center in Detroit! http://www.klove.com/ministry/featured.aspx