The Grace-Gift of Belonging

To be known, loved, and accepted is a deep need of every heart.

Belong is a word that pulls up powerful emotions from the well down deep in our hearts.

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Belong has a space all its own in the real-estate of our hearts, one that is often sanded down with the grit of  experiences of wanting to fit in, to be accepted as we are.

Often marked by the experiences and emotions where we didn’t belong, it can be tempting to overlook the many blessings of belonging. Life as a military family has offered up changing opportunities to belong…or not.

Belonging for the military family

“Belong” is a tough word for military families, frequently moving from one duty station to another. Change seems to be the constant of our lives, and it is hard to find the oasis of belonging in a desert of different.

The hardest part of frequent moves is the uprooting of belonging. Support systems, friendships, groups, jobs and loved places–these are just a few of the treasures that have left a deep imprint on our souls in each place of belonging.

The day I had to physically pull my 7-year-old daughter apart from her first best friend, I fought back tears thinking, my heart is going to fall out, right here on the front porch.

Red-faced with hot tears streaming, my little one sobbed, “Don’t make me leave, Mommy. Why can’t Rachel come with us? We belong together.”

So painful, this first experience of a child now old enough to understand the security of belonging.

For the military family, belonging includes a new address every few years. It can be so hard to let go of belonging when the moving truck is packed, the orders are stamped, and it is time to leave. In the leaving, there is the fear of not belong mixed with the pain of heart-wrenching goodbyes.

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Not belonging…yet.

Belonging again.

This is the life rhythm that our family has gotten used to. Yet as hard as it is to embrace change and risk belonging, we are all the richer for it.

There is a strength in each of my children that is not dependent on belonging to a particular group of friends. They have learned that given time, friends are found everywhere God sends us. They have experienced the strong bond of belonging to our family is not tied to any particular address.

We’ve learned to give the grace-gift of belonging

We have all learned that we each have the gift of belonging to give to others. To welcome with a smile and an invitation, to get involved with care, to include and bless–these are the gifts of belonging that we can give.

Maybe the best lesson of all has been this:

When we give to bring others in, to invite them to belong, acceptance is no longer an issue. We run faster and live lighter in the grace of giving the gift of belonging to others.

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality”–Romans 12:10-12

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What has been your greatest challenge to belong?




  1. So true! I am
    Not military but after being in a new place for 7 years
    It has been so difficult to feel like I belong!!! Love what you said about honor god and embrace others- belonging will come naturally! Love that!!! Visiting from
    Five minute Friday!

    • Ginger Harrington

      I know your pain! It’s amazing how long it can take to settle. Focusing on others does seem to be the way out. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Belonging a difficult topic. You spoke with great wisdom.
    Thanks for sharing this.
    You Blessed me.

  3. Fabulous post and one that has me really thinking! I don’t know that I can answer your question other than by saying my greatest struggle may be ahead of me as we transition from an active duty Marine family to a retired Marine family settling in what looks like the non-Marine city of San Antonio! However, I do know that Texas is military friendly and after our neighborhood recovers from the shock of our arrival we may just fit in better than I anticipate! God has already been so sweet to give us friends in San Antonio who can’t wait for us to arrive! All I have been praying for over the past year is for one friend and now I have a minimum of six, with the promise of a few more in the future! Did you see that Kathleen Carroll is moving to SA? How sweet is our God?!

    • Ginger Harrington

      I know God has got great blessings for you in a new place of belonging. You are one of the friends that has taught me this lesson of blessing others and bringing them into relationship! So proud of both you and Bill with such an awesome career in the Marine Corps!

  4. Your post helped me to remember what military families go through, and I see God’s grace in your family – that your joy may not be tied to an address but to each other. Thanks for sharing this. When I moved to a new state, I understand the blessing of reaching out to new people. I was one of them! I hope God blesses you wherever you all go, and I know you will bless others, too.

    • Ginger Harrington

      Whether you’re military or not, moving can be such a challenge! I know you are a sweet blessing to all that God brings in your path.

  5. So beautifully expressed, Ginger. As a wife to a reservist we don’t have the relocate but I have such a heart for all military families and for all the sacrifices they make. And while there are many, I believe it’s what makes them so incredibly strong. Thank you to you and your family. Much love.

  6. Thank you for linking to the Saturday Soiree Blog Party! I love your blog and was glad to find you. 🙂 I struggle with belonging as I parent my special needs child. I often feel on the outside and while I often wish to be included more, I am thankful for my daughter and the differences that make her who she is. I hope to connect with you again next week and I am your newest follower!

    • Ginger Harrington

      Thank you for the follow! Good luck getting your Saturday Soiree Blog Party established. Looks like you’re off to a good start. Belonging can be a struggle for all of us, but I imagine that it is a more frequent struggle for special needs kids and families–for lots of reasons. My son is working at a special needs camp this summer and the kids have such a wonderful time being just “one of the campers.” Blessings, new friend.

  7. Ginger, thank you for the sacrifices your family is making to serve our country. I am so thankful.

    I loved the quote in your last graphic — “Live to bless rather than belong.”

  8. Pingback: 10 Ways to Beat Selfishness — 5 Minutes for Faith

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