The Wellness of Belonging and Community
By Dr. Crystal Lane
“For where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I, among them” – Matthew 18:20
Do I belong here?
This is a common and core question that many of us ask again and again during our lifetime. In fact, three out of every five people struggle with a sense of belonging and consider themselves lonely. This struggle is a real one, and it can be overwhelming. More and more may feel this way, and maybe due to the lasting effects of Covid, moving to new cities for jobs, those that never return home from college, commuting long distances to work, or working from home in isolation, and working long jobs and/or multiple jobs for financial purposes. Other factors include not joining clubs, churches, and other social groups as the generations before us did.
There is no separation between the vital importance of a sense of belonging from our physical and our mental health. The social connections that accompany our sense of belonging are a shielding factor helping with behavioral issues as well as stress reduction and management. When we feel we have the support and encouragement of others, we know we are not alone, and we become more resilient! When we belong, we can cope with life’s stressors more effectively and handle difficult times in our lives with a problem-solving mentality and a positive outlook. Galatians 6:2 states to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ”. Coping in a healthy manner and helping others cope with hardships decreases the physical and mental effects of such situations. (https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/is-having-a-sense-of-belonging-important)
“Belonging” includes an individual’s sense of a connection with, and a personal identification with the whole group, while “community” embraces an individual’s participation and their beliefs in something greater than themselves. Creating and supporting a community that thrives involves collectively establishing a group’s values while respecting the individual’s importance and responsibility in contributing to a shared vision and the daily life of the common good. Romans 12: 4-5 explains that “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” We were made to belong, we were made for communities, and we were made to thrive!
Finding Ways to Belong:
- Be yourself and love yourself. Self-acceptance is a vital component of feeling valued and finding a sense of belonging.
- Join a small group, a running club, a book club, or anything you have a passion for or find joy in.
- Volunteer to help others, animals, the environment, or your people.
- Discover and try new things where you can meet new people. This opens your mind and allows you to challenge your own beliefs a bit too, creating a stronger sense of self.
- Share your passions and interests with others.
- Offer support to others on their own journey. We are made to help one another, and this will ultimately bless you too.
- Get involved in community and church programs, (we were created for circles, not rows).
- Reach out when you need support. Do not do hard things alone.
The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
By chat or calling 988 https://988lifeline.org/
Other Meaningful Resources:
- Matthew 5: 13- 16 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+5%3A13-16&version=ESV
Here at Gateway:
There are resources and support groups for supporting those working through tough situations and helping to build a greater community. Gateway believes in healing through Christ and restoring faith. You belong here! Groups specializing in grief, recovery, divorce, foster and adoption, bible studies, mom groups, and many other small groups to connect, engage, and BELONG.