A few weeks ago, my family and I were walking through Frick Park. And there is was, almost in the middle of the woods. A metal and corrugated plastic yard sign with the words, “You Belong.”
It is a simple message and so deeply profound. I have come to believe that a sense of belonging is a primal need for human beings, along with food and water. It is craved and desired – and when we can’t seem to find it, we often look for cheap substitutes for it.
One author states:
“Fitting in” is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted.
“Belonging”, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are. Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in and by seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging, but often barriers to it.”
Belonging is a gift, and it also comes through personal growth. Belonging is both learned from the fabric of a community, and grows as an internal sense of being. Belonging is knowing that you are a gift to humanity, created in the image of God, and loved just the way you are – with all of our strengths and weaknesses, rough edges and beautiful colors.
The posters are a creation of Belonging: A Community Art Project, funded by Pittsburgh’s Sprout Fund. The poster was a winner of a ‘belonging’ art contest from hundreds of entries, meant to show that Pittsburgh is a city of welcome and belonging, for a diversity of people from all over the world.
Some of you have asked me about my hopes and dreams for St. Paul’s. This time here is one that I am sure of – the hope that we are a community where everyone knows that message. You belong. That every child raised in this community know, no matter what, you belong. That every person who ages here know, you belong. That every parent who looks for a community to support them during the crazy years of childrearing, you belong.
Know that there is always a place here for you at God’s table. You Belong!