Have you ever been in a place where you feel like you don’t belong? As you walked in, you felt as though every pair of eyes were on you or worse yet, no one bothered to acknowledge your presence. You start to feel small and began to wonder “Why am I here in the first place?” If you’ve felt that way, you are not alone.
As human beings, we all long to belong in a community with people whom we can trust and share our life struggles with. Whether it is family, friends, co-workers, or at church, when we have a place of belonging, we feel welcomed, accepted, included, appreciated, and loved.
For a very long time, I struggled with this sense of belonging. When I was a little girl, my older sister often told me I don’t belong in the family because I wasn’t like her. When I was 8, my parents got divorced. I felt abandoned and thought I didn’t deserve my father’s love. At the age of 13, I came to the United States and attended school. I felt like an outcast in a classroom where I can barely speak and understand English.
I got married at the age of 17 and moved away from my family in California to live with my husband in Minnesota. Within that year, we had our first son. When he turned 2 months old, my husband left for military training. A couple years after that, he was deployed overseas for a year during the Iraq War, leaving me and our son behind with my in-laws. When he came back from the war, he started making films and was gone a lot on the weekends. He traveled to Thailand for film projects and would stay there for several months, leaving me alone by myself. For the first 10 years of our marriage, I felt lonely, unwanted, and unappreciated.
In August of 2010, my family converted to Christianity. Church was an entirely new world to me. At first, I didn’t feel like I fit in, but through the grace of God, I met many godly women who welcomed me. These women became my friends, my prayer partners, my Bible study group, and my ministry team. It wasn’t an easy journey for someone who struggled to find her place of belonging ever since she was a little girl to where she is today. I had to get out of my comfort zone. I had to be willing to expose my struggles and weakness. In turn, I trusted that I would gain new hope, a sense of belonging, and a transformed life through Jesus Christ. I had to be willing to let go of my old self and to be renewed, not according to how the world wanted me to be but how God wants me to be.
The day I came to know who God is, was the day I knew my place of belonging. John 1:12 says “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” I know that by receiving and believing in Him, I am now a child of God. It is the most beautiful thing in my life. I belong to Him now and forever.
My dear sisters, if you still struggle to find your place of belonging, know that you have a place of belonging the moment you accept Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior. We don’t have to wonder where we belong any longer. We don’t have to question whether we fit in or not because we’re already a part of God’s wonderful family. Trust in Him and follow His lead because we belong to Him.
Patao Vang (N. Xh. Zam Nkaub Tsab)
Patao Vang is the wife of Xf. Zam Nkaub Tsab, the Media Director of Hmong District, and a mother of four wonderful sons: Muakong, Kongyen, Yenchi, and Chimua. her family currently resides in Brighton, Colorado. They attend First United Hmong Alliance Church in Denver and she currently serve as a nursery lead and auditor. She enjoys hiking, cooking and playing boardgames with her boys. With everything going on and all the changes, the Bible verse that keeps her going is Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."