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Reflections on Belonging Acquire US

How can a church develop into a sanctuary—a spot the place people dwelling with psychological well being challenges really feel protected, supported, and a way of belonging? All through the month of October, Sanctuary is exploring this query with our annual Psychological Well being Consciousness Month marketing campaign. To paraphrase Sanctuary Ambassador John Swinton, belonging means being seen, recognized, and needed in neighborhood. The chorus of belonging may very well be, ”I’m glad you might be right here, and you might be missed once you’re gone.”

In honour of World Psychological Well being Day (October 10), we’ve requested members of the Sanctuary crew to share their reflections on the theme of belonging. Belonging is a elementary human want. We every enter this world as helpless infants, fully depending on our attachment to and reference to our caregivers for survival. As we mature, the necessity to belong persists, reflecting the interdependence woven into the very material of our being by our Creator—the trinitarian God who made us in his picture. For many people, nonetheless, the expertise of psychological well being challenges can create boundaries to belonging. As you have interaction with the contributions beneath, we invite you to ponder the connection between psychological well being and belonging, take into account your personal experiences, and maybe have interaction with the reflection questions on the finish both individually or in neighborhood.


Just a few years again an in depth household good friend of ours died. Within the strategy of strolling together with her as she was letting go of her life and the younger household she left behind, I had an epiphany: friendship is actually probably the most treasured commodity in life. Being seen and accepted as we’re, with no requirement to carry out or conform, is really a present that units us free to like and be beloved.

After I consider belonging, I consider this deep friendship that I discovered from my good friend on the finish of her life. It struck me that on this life-or-death setting there was immense readability and completely no pretense. It was as if all façades had been stripped away and all that was left had been two mates, relinquishing management and conveying a way of deep gratitude for the reward of life we had every recognized to that time.

In my need to create areas of belonging for myself and others, I discover myself having to sacrifice my preconceived concepts of what “ought to” be, and as an alternative belief what’s, nonetheless scary or painful which may be. To see past the façade and acknowledge one other particular person as the dear baby of God that they’re just isn’t all the time simple, particularly in a tradition that wishes to deal with look and efficiency. To me, this holy recognition speaks of the Christ who sees us and says, “Come to me, that is the place you belong.”


For a very long time, I assumed that my psychological well being challenges had been a barrier to experiencing belonging. Throughout my lengthy, low intervals of melancholy, it was exhausting to attach with different folks—even shut family and friends. It took all of my power to behave “regular,” and on the finish of the day I had nothing left for myself, a lot much less others. I felt remoted and discouraged.

Leslie Roberts headshot

After I lastly began receiving assist from a psychological well being skilled, I encountered Brene Brown’s work on vulnerability. Her phrases empowered me to strive dipping my toes within the water and sharing about my expertise with a trusted good friend. This good friend listened to me, requested questions, and supported me, serving to me really feel seen, recognized, and cared for as an entire particular person and never only for the outward-performing components of me. The extra I skilled this belonging together with her, the extra I felt able to sharing my story (together with my psychological well being journey) with others—and I seen that my vulnerability created house for others to be seen and recognized within the midst of their very own journeys. After I rejected the self-stigma that prevented me from sharing in areas that had been protected, I modeled to others that I’d not enable stigma to impression my take care of them. It didn’t occur in a single day, however over time I’ve seen that reasonably than my psychological well being stopping me from experiencing connection, it has been a door by which I can join with others, receiving and providing belonging.


Amy Deutscher

In my thirty-one years of life, I’ve lived in sixteen properties. Typically the transfer was just some streets away. Different occasions it’s been to an entire new nation.

After I transfer someplace new, I might declare I’ve sufficient mates and resolve towards assembly anybody new. However I don’t. I feel belonging may be skilled in our day-to-day life with coworkers, church members, and even change college students. I might additionally resolve that to make room for these new mates, I ought to let go of these I knew earlier than. However I don’t. I feel belonging may be skilled with those that have recognized you for many years, regardless of the gap. I’m nonetheless in contact with my grade 4 bestie, and after ten years of friendship, one dearly beloved good friend grew to become my fiancé.

It’s not simple to put money into relationships throughout three continents, and that’s in occasions of flourishing! In seasons of languishing, I can really feel too drained to socialize. When my mates attain out to me, it could actually really feel simpler to say no the invitation or the FaceTime name. In occasions like these, I follow self-compassion and converse to myself the way in which I do know my mates would converse to me.

That’s why I feel belonging is a ravishing a part of life. It comes by two-sided initiative and dedication. Simply as I need to ensure mates know I’m glad they’re in my life and I miss them after we’re aside, I’m grateful for the buddies who do the identical for me within the midst of life’s ups and downs.


Corin Pilling Headshot

Some years in the past, I had the privilege of convening a bunch of round twenty-five folks from throughout the UK to debate their experiences of dwelling with long-term psychological well being challenges whereas being a part of a church. A central theme emerged. Many had been unsure of whether or not they had been actually welcome of their neighborhood. After evaluating experiences, one participant summarized the dialog: “Many people really feel we’re not absolutely seen—as an alternative, we’re issues to be fastened or prevented.”

For many people who reside with a psychological well being problem, the expertise of stigma leaves us feeling that we are the issue. So, learn how to deal with this as a neighborhood? We could must recognise {that a} heat welcome is simply a place to begin in the case of serving to folks really feel like they belong. As John Swinton says, “to belong is to be missed.” We would maintain to the worth “all are welcome right here,” however will we discover when individuals are absent and lengthy for them to be current?

Along with being missed, many people expertise belonging when there may be house for our voices to be heard and our presents to be valued. Communities engaged in cultivating such a house will need to be conscious of situations or diagnoses which will require sensible lodging. For instance, a good friend of mine with the reward of preaching was on the sermon rota, and their church was in a position to cowl their preaching slot in the event that they grew to become unwell.

Lastly, communities are dynamic, and that is one cause we encourage folks to host The Sanctuary Course usually. Working the course might help shift a tradition of “keep away from or repair” and begin to dismantle the boundaries to creating a real neighborhood of belonging.


Kate Dewhurst

Lately, my husband and I had been a part of the management crew of a small, quirky, and great church neighborhood. What drew us in, partly, was the pastor’s openness about his personal psychological well being challenges, which included experiences of melancholy and psychosis. In sharing his story, he created house for others to speak about their very own assorted experiences and challenges. The message was clear: this can be a protected place to speak about psychological well being, and you might be invited to share your presents on this neighborhood. 

Typically these presents had been much less polished than one may count on in a church service. James served communion each month, although it took longer than it might need in any other case. Sarah, who discovered it difficult to depart the home however beloved feeding folks, solicited donations from an Indian restaurant, served everybody a neighborhood meal, after which went door to door delivering meals to the church neighbours—stunning everybody. Aaron, an adolescent who’s autistic, created and shared a video of his stuffed animals taking part in the assorted characters within the Christmas story. 

Oftentimes church buildings are divided into two teams: those that obtain ministry and care and those that do the ministering and caring. However all of us want the dignity that comes from understanding that we’ve one thing to supply different human beings. A part of belonging is being invited to share our presents.


We invite you to mirror on belonging utilizing the questions beneath. You may additionally share these questions with mates, household, or social media utilizing the graphics beneath.

  1. When have you ever skilled a way of belonging, both with God or in neighborhood? How would you describe that have?
  2. Has your psychological well being—whether or not flourishing or languishing—impacted your experiences of belonging?
  3. In case you are a part of a religion neighborhood, how does your neighborhood deliberately work to create areas of belonging for folks when they’re experiencing psychological well being challenges? Is there something you’d need to do in another way?

Cowl picture and graphics designed by Adam Mountstevens

#Reflections #Belonging

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