Lisa Santelli, GFC Van Dyke

Psalm 100:3  “And realize what this really means – we have the privilege of worshiping the Lord our God. For he is our Creator and we belong to Him. We are the people of his pleasure.”

Do you have a sense of belonging?” That was the question my high school counselor asked one day when I was serving a semester as her teacher’s assistant. I thought she was referencing the fact that I am adopted, which I do feel was a huge part of the question. But, looking back, I think she was asking about so much more.

At the time, I was the new girl, and switching schools in 10th grade wasn’t easy. I lived almost 45 minutes away, commuting daily, which made it hard to spend time with friends after school. I still had a lot of friends in my hometown, but I never quite felt like I fit in with them either. I didn’t see them daily and missed out on a lot of their school activities. It was a tough season. So, when she asked that question, “do you have a sense of belonging”, I immediately thought of my family, their support, our bonds, and how they truly loved me. I quickly answered, “Of course, I feel like I belong”, and pretty much dismissed the matter. But, if I am completely honest, I have struggled with that sentiment for years, and it has been more recently that I’ve been able to unpack it.

A few years ago, I started to awaken to the fact that I needed something more in my life. I didn’t have many friends and the ones I did have, lived hours or states away.  I was questioning what I was doing with my life.  I was jaded and cynical.  This once soft heart had become hardened and judgmental, and I really didn’t like me.  At times, I questioned my worth and my purpose.  Why am I truly here? And, where do I actually belong?

I had been attending church, but not participating. But then, there was this mention of getting in a “Group”. Something inside was nudging me to go, but I was scared to take that first step. Even though I grew up in the church, I had strayed. What would these ladies think of me?  Would they see the black spots on my heart?  Would they even like me?  Or, would my high school insecurities surface and I feel the same rejections and thoughts that I didn’t quite fit in?

I remember showing up at that first small group and seeing pure joy on one of the ladies faces and it completely scared me.  I was so sure she could see right through to my dark, lonely heart and was ready to judge all my shortcomings. Instead, I was welcomed with open arms.

It was through these incredible women, that we began to share our struggles. And, it was through these women, that rather than telling me I was right or wrong about something they pointed to truth in the scripture. I started to feel that there really was a God who was for me, was always right beside me, and accepted me as I am…with all my messy layers. It was here the message of grace began to resonate so deeply that I sensed a real belonging. I felt a sisterhood forming, with the connecting layer Jesus. Even though our backgrounds and battles were different, our common ground in Jesus and the encouragement we gave each other has created relationships that run deep. We have laughed together, cried together, and prayed together.

Semester after semester, I stay plugged into groups. Not only does it create accountability and spiritual growth, but I have a true sense of belonging, both in my community of friends, and as a reminder of to who I really belong. When fears and lies creep in, my tribe reminds me that I am a child of the One True King and to straighten my crown. It is easy to get caught up in our insecurities and forget who our Abba Father is. We can forget that we are an essential part of His family. During those tough times, we need a community who will remind us, who won’t let us wallow or drift, but will help tie us to our one true Anchor, Jesus Christ.

If you’re struggling to feel like you belong, first be reminded who God says you are and that you belong to HIM. If you don’t have a community of support, or maybe you’ve struggled to find your tribe, join a group. It may take a couple table hops to find your people, but be encouraged…God’s family is big enough and wide enough to welcome you in.

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  1. This is a wonderful article and a reminder to keep trying.

  2. Oh Lisa, thank you for sharing a bit of your heart in this blog! I totally relate to this journey and it’s a constant pattern of replacing the enemy’s lies with God’s truth! We are the BODY of Christ and we all absolutely belong and fit in, with our own unique voice and gifts. I pray this blog has reached others who have also struggled in this area, and find these truths as the necessary prompting to come grab a seat at the table! ❤️

  3. Lisa love this blog ! I can relate I always felt like an outsider all through my life until my world came tumbling down , but I took the first step and joined a small group and they literally saved my Life!! Your an amazing soul and I am Bless to call you my friend!! ❤️🙏😘🎁💯✝️

  4. Lisa, Thank you so much for these beautiful words of encouragement and sisterhood. I also moved a lot in my youth and struggled with feelings of belonging, especially in my teen years. Replacing all the lies I had been told by others in my life and replacing that with God’s truth of who I am in Him has brought me to not only seek the Lord but a community/family like I have never known before! Loving, accepting, nonjudgmental, caring, encouraging, kind and strong in God’s love and His Word. God bless you! 🙏❤️

  5. SO beautiful and inspiring!! Lisa–you are special!!

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