by Laura Hope
As a child, my parents moved often. We left Israel when I was 3 years old only to move from state to state in the USA for the next ten years due to my father’s work. When we came back to Israel when I was 13, I struggled with a sense of belonging and my identity. As the years went by, I continued to struggle. Living as a Christian amongst Muslims and Jews was complicated. As a teenager, I learned the art of adapting and becoming like a chameleon to fit in.
After an attempt to set fire to the congregation we attended, a fear came over me and I did not talk much about my faith. I remember when I was just 13, the next-door neighbor kids stoned my brother and me because we were seen attending the Feast of Tabernacles. Their parents were invited to go and they happened to see us there, and the persecution began. When we left the apartment, they amazingly apologized for that incident. After my car accident at age 17, I broke free from some of that fear and the Lord helped me to share my testimony to most of the Aliwhites and Druze in the Golan. In the year 2000, there was a huge open door.
After completing my BA in Theology in Jerusalem, that fear of not belonging came again. Being born in Israel and spending many years in Metulla in a Jewish village, with a family that had a ministry to the Arabs, I was misunderstood by many Arab and Jewish believers who either thought I loved the Jews too much or that I loved the Arabs too much. I felt I would always be a foreigner and never fit in or belong, even though I was born in this country.
At one point I was seriously trying to do DNA testing to find out if we did have Jewish heritage because of Jewish names we had in our family from Holland. But in the end, I felt it was chasing the wind and it could hinder possibly other open doors God was giving me. When it came to marriage, I wanted someone on equal terms as myself. That meant someone who would accept me for who I was and to whom I would not have to prove myself.
When Remi came into my life, I did not feel that it mattered to him what I was. He could have cared less if I was Arab or Jew or African. He just liked me and pursued me. I was attending a seminar shortly after we were married, and someone who always made me feel rejected and nervous walked into the room. Remi whispered in my ear, “Do not worry, you belong to me now.” Somehow that woke me up and gave me a huge sense of security.
I think this is what God wants us to remember. God wants to whisper in our ear and assure us that we belong to him. We are not our own. If we can hold on to the promise of the one to whom we belong, we will find our hearts at home. It is easy for me to forget whom I belong to! In a land of so much insecurity, one can easily lose their focus on eternity and how our kingdom is not of this world.
Recently, my son was having trouble at school, and I was questioning whether it was time to move him to a different school or home school him. We resolved the issue and he is still in the same class. When I told an acquaintance that I was struggling with whether to home school him or not, she asked me a question: “Do you want your son to suffer from not belonging as you have?” This person felt it was more important that he felt as if he belonged to the group, and then find private lessons tailored to him.
I must say I do not want my son to have to deal with this feeling of not belonging, but the other half of me wants him to realize that as believers there is something more important than fitting in. If we can hold on to God and allow him to place his love as a seal on our hearts, we will find security that will not be shaken. Because truly we are like Father Abraham who himself was a stranger or alien in the promised land.
We are strangers believing by faith that we will reach a Golden City of the New Jerusalem that is to come. I want my son to base his sole identity NOT in his school or his peers, but on the one to whom he belongs. Whom do you belong to? To whom have you given your heart? Does it belong to your Beloved, the King of Kings?
God wants to cover us like a mother hen and bring comfort to his people. He wants to sing over us with songs of love. He wants us to know deep down and say, “I am my Beloved’s and He is mine.” Knowing this down deep will bring a deep sense of security that the world does not give.
If you have ever suffered from the feeling of not belonging, I want to invite you to look to the One whose heart is so ravished by you! Our God takes delight in you, and he wants you to belong to him. He wants to place his seal upon you so you will never forget that you belong to Him. He wants to sing over you with songs of joy.
Lift up your eyes and find comfort from under his wings. Let him surround you with the wings of his presence so that you know that it does not matter where you went to school, where you have lived, where you are from, or what job you work at, but what most matters is that you never forget that you are not your own, you belong to your Beloved.
Originally published here.
Laura Hope grew up as a third culture kid, she has been directing the Heavenly Light Bookshop since 2009. She has a blog, poetofdreams.com. She holds a BA in Theology. She has two boys nearly 8 and 7 years old. Her hobbies are herbalism, exploring ancient Biblical sites, and art. She is currently residing in Jerusalem and she loves to encourage and inspire others in their pilgrimage of the heart.