Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks and Belonging

Thanksgiving is tomorrow…

It is an American holiday meant for remembrance of the pilgrims, their long journey, their friendship with the Indians, and the celebratory meal they shared together.

But nowadays, most Americans just spend this day stuffing their faces, trying not to think about their weight, and debating if eating that third piece of pie was worth it or not…

In short, we forget what the name of the day actually means.

Sure, we say a prayer over the crazy-big spread we lay out. Sure, we take turns sharing what we are thankful for. Sure, we enjoy those warm, fuzzy feelings we get around the holidays.

But why can’t we do this year-round?

Why do we suddenly decide to “be thankful” at this specific time of year?

What makes this day different than any other day?

Since we moved to Kenya, my family has been missing a lot of things.

We miss some of the comforts we had back home. We miss people, (far too many to number,) that we loved and who loved us. And there are some days we just plain, “miss home.”

And with the holidays coming around, we are discovering just how much we miss our dearest family and friends…

But as much as I personally miss home, I wouldn't change where I am for the world.
It would take far too long for me to explain every detail of why I feel this way, so I will try to narrow it down into one word:


The feeling of belonging is such a curious thing…

It is a feeling we all desire from the very beginning of life.

Usually this feeling shows up when we are in the company of people who are like us.

People who are from the same family, people who have the same interests, people who have the same accent, who eat our favorite food, who dress and act like us; these are the people we feel comfortable with. And our human nature tells us that these are the people designed to be with.

But have you ever dreamed that you could feel this sensation with people who are unlike you?

I do.

And it just doesn’t make sense!!

When the pilgrims landed, they were strangers in a strange land, living with strange people.

They were from a different country. They spoke a different language. They were a part of a different culture. They dressed differently. They had different customs.

According to what the world would say, they did not “belong.”

(Not unlike my family right now…)

But the Indians saw the pilgrims were in need. They looked past what the pilgrims looked like, and stretched out an arm of friendship that would go down in history.

They shared their time, energy, and food with these strangers who had entered their homeland, and treated them like brothers.

(Not unlike the people of Kitale, Kenya right now…)

I don’t believe that true belonging is what the world defines as “belonging.” I think the true meaning of belonging is being able to look past the things the world looks at in a person, and chooses to see people for who God has made them to be.

I think it is accepting your brothers and sisters in Christ as you would your real “brothers and sisters,” along with all their flaws, differences, and oddities.

I think is allowing people to become a part of your life; discipling, ministering, and just sharing with each other.

That is the beauty of the Thanksgiving story…

This was a single act of kindness that has made an impact on people of hundreds of years later.

We usually just think of it as a story.

But I think that this story is a beautiful example of brotherly love, how God can bring people together, and how people can belong anywhere as long as God is guiding them.

Thankfulness, joy, and contentment are choices you must make.
And they are choices we should make all year.

I wish all of you the best Thanksgiving yet!!

Hannah Wilson

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