What to do When You Feel Like You Don't Belong
I listened to a Podcast recently that struck a cord with me. It’s a subject I’ve written about before. One of those things we all struggle with on one level or another. Belonging. For me, it’s a constant struggle. Just when I think I’ve overcome it, it creeps in again.
Before I share a quote from that Podcast I jotted down while listening, let me just note here that while listening to this conversation I noticed there was no mention of God. While that bothered me, God still spoke into my heart with plenty of truth. I came across an article by Heather Davis Nelson reviewing Rising Strong by Brené Brown and she said this (which sums up my thoughts exactly), "Brown isn’t adding to what God’s already addressed in Scripture, but she is discussing (perhaps unbeknownst to her) key biblical concepts in a thought-provoking way." This article is a good one too, by the way.
“We have to stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that we don’t belong.” - Brené Brown
Are you busy doing just that? Are you so convinced that you don’t belong, that you can’t see the burden you’re placing on people? Another quote from this podcast. “No one can give this to you” - Brené Brown. No person can validate that you, in fact, belong. It’s not in their power. It’s not up to them. Why do we give people so much power over us? Questions only we can answer for ourselves as we seek God.
I have spent my entire life performing the ritual of clothing myself in a "protective" armor while having conversations with myself inside my head right smack in the middle of a crowded room not really present with anyone because I'm too absorbed in reminding myself that I don't belong right here at this very moment with these very people all while repeating to myself the long list of things wrong with me. As this little ritual goes on inside my head I take on the task of clothing myself in what I believe is a protective armor. I've decided it's time to STOP!
Now, instead of this little ritual I make a concious effort to pray instead. To speak to myself reminding me that I'm a child of God. That I do, in fact, belong. It's like trying to convince someone the sky is green when it is really blue, but at least it's a step in the right direction. At least I've chosen to stop the maddness throwing a wrench into the destroyer's plan to keep me absorbed inside my own head and not be present with the people I'm with. Oh yes, family is included in this little sharade I play...no time, place or group of people get excluded.
You and I, we must stop wearing this kind of armor. There is only one kind of armor we should be wearing. Let me explain.
What to do When You feel like you don't belong
Clothe yourself in God's Armor
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:10-18
When you walk into a room or work or with a group of people do this mental work instead of the negative self talk. Stop and pause. Breathe. Then mentally begin to throw off that negative armor and begin to put on God's armor.
The armor of God protects us from the enemy of our souls. It’s not designed to protect us from people. In fact, “bravery [in relationships] without vulnerability isn’t real courage. We aren’t seen and known without it.” We will never experience what it’s truly like to be known, to belong, until we’re willing to be real. Until we give ourselves permission to be who we are, wherever we are, whoever we’re with.
Realize You're not alone
The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? Psalm 118:6
After you've mentally clothed yourself the right way, take Jesus by the hand and literally invite Him to walk in with you. Maybe even do what I do. Say it in a whisper if it helps. Here we go, Jesus. Let's do this, You and me.
I actually used to carry this verse written out on a piece of paper in my pocket and would pull it out whenever I needed to remind myself of this truth...which was often...by the time I stopped carrying it it was quite tattered.
Remember last week when I shared how Fear is a Liar? Don't buy into those lies, just don't do it.
So we say with confidence: "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" Hebrews 13:6
Realize God is for you
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31
He is on your side. He's cheering for you. You've got the Kings of Kings on YOUR side! After you've taken Him by the hand let His voice guide you. Let Him remind you that you are His child. Let Him be your confidence.
recognize that we're all the same in God's eyes
Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:7
The playing field is level. He doesn't play favorites. We're all His children. When you begin to feel those feelings of not belonging trying to invade your thoughts as you interact with people, be intentional about seeing them through God's eyes. They are NOT better than you. And you my friend, are NOT better than them. As the old saying goes - the ground is level around the cross.
Friend, I get it. Belonging is such a hard hard thing to overcome when you've convinced yourself otherwise. I'm still overcoming this issue in my own life. There is hope for those of us with anxiety looming over us when we enter a room full of people. The name of that hope is Jesus. He's wants to take those anxieties and toss them into the sea, but we must surrender them. We must stop hanging onto those lies so tightly. We must open our fists and let them fall so we can take Christ's hand and hold on tightly to Him. The problem is we can't hang onto both. We must decide which one we're going to hang on to. We must decide which one we're going to listen to.
I'd love to hear if these tips have helped or if you have others you've applied to help you overcome anxiety and the feeling that you don't belong.