Don’t You Know You Belong to Each Other?

The class laughed. They laughed at him.

Not an I’m-laughing-with-you-laugh, but a you’re-an-idiot-and-no-one-likes-you laugh.

His mouth turned down. His eyes stared at the ground. His shoulders sagged under the weight of ridicule. His heart pieces fell to the floor.

My fury boiled hot anger for this broken boy. One of my students. One of mine hurt by those who were also mine.

And I knew how he felt.

Sitting silent at my desk later, the haunting memories of my own teenage years hung like a cloud. Times I felt unconnected tramped across my consciousness.

Times I didn’t belong.

We each have a deep ache in our souls to be accepted, to be known. Drifting on the outskirts of belonging, we attempt acts of desperation. We change our hair, our nails, our clothes, our weight, our interests, our demeanor, our activities, our values, our beliefs just to be welcomed into the fold.

And if we’re not? If we somehow don’t fit the rules of society? We hunker down behind walls of bitterness, all the time praying someone would just reach a hand in our direction.

That’s what we should be doing—reaching our hands to the outstretched fingertips of those looking to belong. Because they already do. They already belong.

In my classroom that day, as my heart burned and ached all in one breath, I wanted to take each student by the shoulders, look deep, and ask one thing:

Don’t you know? Don’t you know you belong to each other?

We love a Jesus asking the same question. Can you hear Him? Can you hear his voice echoing in your heart? He’s looking deep. Asking:

Don’t you know? Don’t you know you belong to each other?

Two thousand years ago Peter sat with the risen Savior at the water’s edge. With toes in sand, our Jesus told Peter three times, “Feed my sheep.” The Shepherd casting a vision for His flock. The Shepherd making the family responsible for one another.

We are the keepers. We are the tenders. We are the shielders.

Yet. How well do we love the unlovely?

I’ve stood on the fringes looking in, but I’ve sat comfortably on the inside too. I have to wonder if I really understand we all belong to each other—if I take care to reach my hand out to those who don’t know they already belong.

My mind drifts to a woman I knew. She wasn’t so good with people. She was loud, overbearing, and didn’t recognize social cues. I struggled hard to love her. I’m embarrassed to admit I would sigh deep inside when she came my way.

We belonged to each other, but I didn’t take care of her the way I needed to—the way she needed me to.

It’s not just the hard to love at work. But the ones we can never agree with and who hate our positions with narrowed eyes. And the ones on the street, clothes stained and torn with grit creased into haggard wrinkles. And even those in our world who may bring fear to our hearts with their need seeping from worn souls.

Do I love the unlovely? Do I know we belong to each other? Do I realize God asks me to live out family with humanity? Do I understand, really own, that the cross was for the world as much as it was for me?

Christ did not suffer His crown of thorns or nail-split hands more for my lost soul than any other human.

Period.

The belonging we crave? The acceptance we long for? It’s our responsibility to extend the same to all we meet. A responsibility to say you are welcome here.

I’m desperate for my students to learn what it means to welcome each other with open arms. I’m desperate for my own eyes to see humanity through the lens of the Creator. Because His call is a whisper echoing loud in my soul.

Don’t you know you belong to each other?

Sister-Friends

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6 Responses to Don’t You Know You Belong to Each Other?

  1. Peggy Dale says:

    Oh wow, this brings memories of my high school years. I remember being the new girl, so.unsure of myself. Probably people thought I was a mean one. Ye, there were two girls who made me feel so welcome and loved. Thank you Heather and Kelly for showing me Jesus’ love. It was with the two of you during youth at Eustis Baptist I finally came to know Jesus as my Savior. THANK YOU!

  2. Please give me permission to re-blog this post. All teachers, whether Christian or not, needs to feel this way.

  3. Pingback: [BLOCKED BY STBV] We’re all in this together! | We Were Meant to be Teachers!

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