I asked my friend – who lives far away and has been acquainting herself slowly with a new land and a foreign folk for the past few years – how she was doing recently. Oh, the this and the that, it’s all going good. Job’s about to get great. Cooking up a storm. Met a new friend but he lives in another country, so… you know how that goes. And then I asked her this.
Are you finding your people?
It only takes one. One person who gets you on some random level that sheaths a raw nerve, creating a thread that could turn to fondness and even to kinship. The hope of that electrifies. Because we all want to belong. Belonging is swell.
I have two stray cats and they make me smile. One came to us because some ex-boyfriend’s grandmother was moving and the new apartment was pet-free. That’s how we met Maggie, with half of one ear missing and a muddled black-brown face that hides her expression so you never know she’s staring. She’s been loved not quite enough many many times, even in our house, but she’s been our Maggie for about 7 years. Lost and found and lost and found. She’s deserved better.
The other little guy, Fisher, is fighting for custody of my left hand at this very moment, poking his face under my curled fingers and stealing affection, like strays are wont to do. Whatever they can get, they will take. And so it is with belonging.
I don’t keep every stray but sometimes I know that I can change the story. With people, I believe there is nearly always something we can do to bridge the gap, to be the one with the power to make you feel worthy, even if it’s just by telling you your having a really good hair day, and meaning it.
Recently I noticed one moment in particular when someone I respected had the sterling silver chance to show me I was valuable, and chose to decline. It’s hard to not tell this story, but trust me, we’re better off letting negative thoughts be left under the rocks where they breed. I learned that lesson from another friend who sees me – who is able to look at what sucks in my life and agree with me about it.
I did it for someone a few hours back, helped her belong. It was so easy. All I had to do was be real enough to refuse to bright-side her out of her bad luck. Tell her she was doing the right thing even though she knew it. You can do this too, any time you want. Do you, though? Let’s try. Pick the stray. Use her name when you speak to her, to prove that you know it. Answer the hard question in a way that’s going to make you look freaking out of your mind and honest. She will smile with half of her mouth. And the thread will form. You’ll be belonging.
Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.1 Peter 2:10