We Long to Belong (And That’s Not Wrong)

Erik Cooper —  August 24, 2011 — 1 Comment

My son spends more time on his hair than his two older sisters combined. A virtual six year old Aveda billboard, we only wish he would brush his teeth with the same fervor that he brushes his hair.

So when he began to emerge from the bathroom each morning with his gelled, spiky locks plastered flat to his forehead, we thought it was a little strange. Then again, he’s six. We occasionally catch him tasting dog biscuits. Inexplicable actions aren’t a foreign concept.

Then we went to back to school night.

In passing conversation with his first grade teacher, we learned the real story. One of the other boys had made fun of his “tall” hair in front of the rest of the class. The kids laughed, and that one passing comment took the compressed air right out of his mousse can. His hair lost its altitude.


(Austin would want you to know this is a pre-styled photograph. He does much better work than this image reflects).

We long to belong.

From the earliest of ages it’s evident. And I don’t think that’s wrong (that we long to belong). I think it’s how we were made. For relationship. For connection. To love and be loved. But like so many other God-given gifts, we’ve broken, abused, and turned it on one another.

Sometimes love requires us to illuminate ugly things in others they can’t see for themselves. But more often than not, we end up leveraging this human need for belonging to assert control. To power play. To combat our own insecurities by enhancing those of another.

Allowing a trusted voice to help you see and heal your broken places is wise (see Proverbs 27:6). Allowing the opinions of others to shape how you see yourself is quite different. Even dangerous.

“The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.” –Proverbs 29:25

I think it’s time for a little father and son trip the Dairy Queen (all good teaching moments involve ice cream, right?).

In your longing to belong, do you ever fall victim to the controlling opinions of others? How do you “slick your hair flat to your forehead?”

One response to We Long to Belong (And That’s Not Wrong)

  1. that sucks. i wish we could just let our freak flags fly. i remember a lot of experiences like this growing up.

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