Thursday, February 22, 2018

Belonging Everywhere and Nowhere

Have you heard of Brené Brown?
Yes? Skip this paragraph.
No? Then watch here in her first Ted Talk.


Right now. Spend 20 minutes and get to know her.

Okay, good. Now you know why I like reading her books. She writes in the same way she is able to tell a story. She knows how to tell a good tale and all the while she's talking, you are learning something. At the very same time.
At Symons Valley United Church we have found a pattern of doing a book study after Christmas. Often into Lent. Folks like to be challenged a little bit but, like all of us, don't want to be burdened by texts that are dense or too academic. Last year we read Brené Brown's Daring Greatly and everyone loved it.

This year we are reading her most recent book, Braving the Wilderness. In preparation for the book study, I read the book as my 2nd book for the year - Book 2 of 26. We have read through only the first two chapters so I don't to give too much away here but I can tell you some of my favourite parts.
Braving the Wilderness is about belonging. Brown takes a quotation from Maya Angelou:
You are free only when you realize that you belong no place - you belong every place - no place at all.
True belonging doesn't require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.
It seems that so much of what hurts in life is feeling that we don't belong. We don't feel accepted or included as we fully are. We don't belong in our family, in our social circles, in our work place. Much of what Brené Brown writes about is being authentic - about being fully who we are - about being the person that God intended us to be. That is where the Daring and the Braving come into action in Brown's writing.  It's takes courage, vulnerability and faith to stand up in today's world and be okay with being and saying exactly what you know to be right and true, regardless of what the group around you believes. Even if what you have to say is more about expressing doubt and asking questions.

Funnily enough, as these things happen to be now and then, the next book I picked up to ready (Book 3 of 26) was Brian McLaren's A Search for What Makes Sense: Finding Faith. McLaren's book is more for a reader who is struggling with faith - whether because they find themselves in a faith tradition that no longer makes sense to them or because they have not grown up in a faith community and are trying to understand what they are looking for.

In other words, they are seeking to belong.

I was struck how these two books meshed together. McLaren writes:

Good faith is honest. Shouldn't good faith feel free to express both doubt and confidence?
Good faith is communal. Since my individual understanding is so limited, don't I need connection with a group of trusted companions, so we can help and encourage one another in our common search for faith, God and truth? 
In other words, we naturally want to belong. We are pack animals. But belonging to a group should not cost us our ability to seek truth, express doubt, ask questions and to be fully who it is that God made us to be.

Next on my reading list... Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail by Cheryl Strayed.

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