Many psychologists will tell you that there are two things all human beings need in order to live happy, productive lives: we need a sense of belonging, and we need a sense of purpose (David Lose). By “belonging” I don’t mean “fitting in.” In fact, fitting in might be the exact opposite of belonging. When you try to fit in, you adapt yourself to a group’s expectations. When you belong, you don’t have to change a thing. You are accepted the way you are. Being accepted as we are by a larger group gives us a stable view of ourselves, and helps us shape our individual identity, according to the psychologists.
And a sense of purpose gives us a reason to get up in the morning. We need to believe that what we do matters, that we make a difference in the world. Our sense of purpose drives our decisions about the way we spend our time and energy and financial resources. Believing that your life has meaning and value can motivate you to face challenging circumstances with courage and perseverance, even joy.
We need to feel like we belong, and we need to feel like we have a purpose in life. In today’s gospel lesson, Jesus offers us both. Continue reading