Family and Belonging

It's Family Day today in several provinces in Canada and it got me thinking about all the people who, for whatever reason, believe they are no longer part of a family. The word family holds a lot of power for most people. Ultimately, it is about believing one belongs to a group - a tribe. It is about believing one is unconditionally accepted and loved by their people.

A while ago, I came across a young girl dressed in multiple layers of warm clothing sitting outside the grocery store with a sign asking for money. It was rainy and chilly on this day, and I thought about the numerous hurdles this girl faced. Not only did she have to contend with mother nature, she also had to contend with human nature. I could tell by her face and her hands that she was unhealthily thin. Clearly, she had fallen into the dark world of addiction and I suspected it would be quite some time before she would be ready and willing find her way out. I could see that she was afraid - afraid of what people were thinking, afraid that someone might try to harm her, afraid that someone might try to help her, and afraid about a whole lot of things I couldn't even begin to imagine.

On my way out of the store, I gave her some food that I picked up for her while I was getting my groceries. I told her that she had nothing to be ashamed of and that whenever she was ready, there were lots of places she could go to get help. She immediately began to cry. My heart was heavy as I walked away and I asked God to send Angels to protect her.

As I was loading my groceries in the trunk, I saw a group of people talking among themselves, gesturing toward her and obviously judging her. I knew in that instant that the file in that young girl's FEAR cabinet that said: you should be ashamed of yourself! was once again being referenced and reinforced, and my suggestion that she had nothing to be ashamed of was quickly and efficiently negated.

Our mind's process can convince us that we are not wanted; that we will never live up to our parent's expectations and that no one understands us. This train of thought doesn't happen by accident - it's the result of growing up in a dysfunctional family unit, and it’s the consequence of multiple referenced and reinforced negative perspectives. It's a numbers game - our mind's process. The more negative feeling filters that are added to a file, the heavier that file becomes, the more often that file is referenced.

When a child is the recipient of chronic criticism and emotional and/or physical abuse, it's natural that their mind's process will arrive at self defeating conclusions. By adolescence, self defeating patterns of behavior are well entrenched and the desire to be accepted by someone can take on a life of its own. The idea of family begins to change. Friends become more important than siblings, and the search for acceptance within one's tribe begins. The conclusion contained in the file that deals with family will change multiple times. The file itself might move several times, back and forth from the LOVE cabinet into the FEAR cabinet before the number of negative feeling filters causes the file to be permanently placed inside the FEAR cabinet.

We are conditioned in society to believe that we must belong to, participate and be obedient within in a specific family unit. The idea of the family unit extends symbolically into institutions such as schools and into organizations like religious groups and even team sports. If our lives and/or our beliefs do not fit a specific mold, we face judgment, criticism and are ultimately assigned labels that have nothing to do with who we are, but speak volumes about the people who are judging, criticizing and labeling.

The labeled are ridiculed, bullied and ostracized, and when they buy into the label they have been assigned, they become eager to explain themselves and justify the behavior that fits that label. Just browse through social media and you'll find all kinds of opinions and explanations about the behavior of introverts versus extroverts, the ups and downs of children with ADD and/or ADHD, the anxious, the depressed, and the signs and symptoms of all the various degrees of autism. The irony is, no one will ever find genuine acceptance - within themselves or from others - as long as their assigned label holds meaning for them. The only way a person will find relief from the constant desire to belong and be accepted, is to find their way back to the only family that is genuinely unconditional - God's family.

From a spiritual perspective, we - all living things - belong to one family - God's family. Before we fall from heaven and are born once again into a physical body, our Spirits reside in the cosmos knowing we are all connected to, and equal to one another. When we take physical form, this knowledge comes with us, but is forgotten when our mind's process becomes active and begins accumulating negative feeling perspectives.

We must get to the point where we are willing to re-connect with our Spirit and receive Divine Guidance. We will then be guided to exactly where we are supposed to be, and we can then live out the rest of our physical life knowing we have nothing to prove to anyone in order to be accepted for who we are. We can then feel peace and contentment knowing we have purpose and that we belong.

© 2019 Penny Hodgson. All rights reserved

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