I learned last week about the word “belongingness.”  It’s the human need to feel like we belong to a group and that we are part of something greater than ourselves. Right after the basic need for food, water, and shelter, belongingness ranks next in importance.

I think we skip this need and move right onto the need for esteem and self-actualization.  We abandon belongingness because it doesn’t seem important.  And yet, so many of us suffer from profound loneliness and the kind of isolation that drives us to despair.  I’ve seen it with my own eyes. 

My students often make comments that they felt like they really “belonged” in my classroom.  Feeling like you belong–that you are in the right place, in the right situation, with the right people–might be one of the best feelings in the world. I labor towards this goal for my students; I learn about them, share about myself, and insist on ridiculous name games for the entire semester, long after we know each other. 

Vibrant community–lived out in faith and love–fills the soul so deeply.   I’m learning that it takes effort to build community.  You have to do something:  walk kids to school, launch fitness groups, host potlucks, inspire creative project nights, arrange play dates for dads.

One day, you will all feel like you belong to each other.  You’ll never be the same when you look around you and feel belongingness. 

Folks are suffering from a lack of where to belong.   Living with flair means I gather as many folks as I can and help them find a place to belong.  I don’t wait for somebody else to do this work.  And before I know it, my heart overflows.

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  1. This is one thing which surprised me after I moved to MO 16 years ago. I was about 40; how was I going to make friends and belong? OMGoodness, I have a small circle of very close friends including those from my previous life as well as many more casual friends than I ever imagined at my age:). I think you are right – I never felt as if I belonged growing up, not like I do now. We do skip this at our peril – going straight to “me” instead of “us.” thanks for a wonderful post.

  2. Great post. We do all want to belong. And it takes deliberate effort. I find in the corporate world there is a lot of lip service given to this but real effort usually falls short. I also find it takes real effort in our home where we don't have the luxury of falling short. It is a do or die mission with our families well being in the balance.