“Fitting In” – A Sense of Belonging Greater Than the World Can Offer

From elementary school, through junior high, high school, college and beyond – how many times have you heard or thought, “I just don’t fit in”.

Everyone is “Out”

While this is a universal problem, it appears to be accentuated among women.  Over the years in working with college students, we’ve noticed a strange phenomenon…everyone is “out”!  We frequently hear the concern raised that, “I’m just not in the “in” crowd”.  So, what has become apparent to us?…no one believes they are “in”! The “nerd” who thinks he isn’t cool enough, the “brainiac” who says others don’t like him, the “plain” girl who is sure she’s not pretty enough, the “jock” who thinks he has to perform to be liked, the “cheerleader” who has an eating disorder to look a certain way – the list goes on and on.  And I can relate to this because I’m not sure I’ve ever truly felt like I “fit in” either!

Why is this problem more prevalent among women? We were uniquely created by God to be relational – designed to flourish using our skills in relation to others.  We were called to be helpers. As John Piper puts it, “displaying that part of God’s glory that wouldn’t be displayed if there were no women”. As God helps all of us, we, in some small measure, have the privilege of helping as well.

But, as a result of the fall, our sin nature twists all good gifts from God.  Now, instead of using my design to focus on others, it gets twisted and our focus becomes the clamoring after a place to belong. We want to feel secure, to “fit in” because that gives us a surface sense of security. Why do little girls buy “best friend” necklaces and wear one half of it each so that only when they are together, do the necklaces “fit” together? Why do we need to go to the bathroom in packs? Consider that it is out of a desire to find security and a place of belonging.

Real Satisfaction for a Real Longing

The issue is a real one.  The sad thing is that we are so often deceived about where to find the answers.  We mistakenly believe that if we find someone who completely understands us, we’ll fill that longing.  In reality, that longing has been addressed and satisfied in our Savior!  Ephesians 1 tells us that, because of Christ and for those who are His children, we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. We are adopted as His children. We’ve been blessed with His glorious grace and redeemed by His blood. We’ve been forgiven and He has lavished His grace upon us – just for starters!

But while we’re in these sin cursed bodies and on this sin cursed earth, we will not always feel as if we belong. This “thorn in the flesh” reminds us of our “outsider” status. We are broken people in a broken world. Use this longing to set your affections on the Christ’s kingdom to come (Col 3:1; 2 Tim 4:8). At that moment, when Christ comes for His bride, you will experience how you fit perfectly with your only true Creator, Redeemer, Companion, real Husband and Lover of your soul.

So, until the day I am with Him, I’ll stop being surprised by this longing. I’ll thank God that He has already met this need of mine and I’ll use my design to help others learn how to belong to Him as well!

For more on this topic, see Elyse Fitzpatrick’s thoughts on this matter.

Contributions by Brent Aucoin

Janet Aucoin
Janet is the wife of Pastor Brent Aucoin.. She serves as the Director of Women’s Ministries, speaks at conferences and retreats, and is the host of the Joyful Journey Podcast helping women learn that when you choose truth you choose joy.