Belonging isn't easy

Brene Brown writes the most amazing books.  In her book Rising Strong, she provides the guiding principles that she has in her own organization.  I’ll get to those in a second, but here’s the main point for us to consider today:  she and her organization are operating by guiding principles.


This is uncommon but necessary for belonging.  There is this tendency to get sentimental about belonging.  “Hey, come!  We accept everyone!”  I love the sentiment but it can be taken too far.  In almost twenty years of recovery ministry I can count on one hand the number of times that we have had to respectfully ask someone to find another community.  Yikes.  I hate writing that sentence.  BUT and this is a big BUT – BUT for the welfare of the community, it is important to have thought about the conditions of belonging.  I am SO not talking about forming a club where people get along.  In our community we have conflict and petty arguments on a fairly regular basis.  This is normal for a tribe of people who love each other and form deep attachments.  I’d be concerned if we didn’t have issues to sort through.  But there are limits, and those limits are best not determined in the heat of a dispute, but forged through a discernment process over a long period of time and shaped by experience/failure.


Remember Sister Monahan’s discoveries:  truth, authenticity, and humility (another way to say that is finding her place in the bigger story as she discovered she was neither unique or alone). Add to that Brene’s five guiding principles and I think we end up with the start of a great conversation for ourselves, our friends, our families, our communities, and any organization we are invested in.


Here are Brene’s (paraphrased by me but available in totality on p. 257 in Rising Strong:


1.     Respect -  for all and everything.

2.     Rumble – value our tribe enough to be willing to wrestle with hard things.

3.     Rally – even in conflict, refuse to let go of collaboration, ditch ego, and practice the discipline of gratitude.

4.     Recovery – rest!

5.     Reach out – don’t isolate, stay connected, practice empathy, compassion and love.


I hope the connections are fairly obvious regarding Monahan’s and Brown’s perspectives.  More than anything, I pray that me and mine find ways to remember the 5 R’s and practice living them.  Which of these is most difficult for you?  Which one do you feel you could show up for your community and practice reasonably well?