What is the Difference Between Fitting In and Belonging?

Becoming Me website

Who are you?

I spent years disciplining my personality away.

Yes, self-denial in the face of temptation that shifts us from God’s plan is beneficial. Disclipling ourselves to avoid sinful actions and attitudes will help us from taking our lives down a path of brokenness. Sacrifice can be honorable; Abraham and Isaac come to mind.

But I sacrificed my truest self at what I thought was the altar of obedience only to find that I was being manipulated and moved by guilt to fit into other people’s mold for me.  I was motivated to fit in. When in Rome…

Fitting in is not the same as belonging. Fitting in does not bring peace or comfort.

‘Fitting in’ moves me to be a chameleon. It leads me down a road of plastic smiles and insecurity. To fit in I must be who you want me to be. I need to dress to please you. I must use your verbiage and I will laugh at all your jokes. If I’m going to fit in, I will need your approval. It compels me to wear a heavy backpack filled with perfectionism that keeps me from the letting the lifter of my head lead my life. I end up down a path that is shallow, empty and fruitless.

Belonging though, is freedom. It does not require me to meet your expectations, belonging only demands that I show up. I belong when I decide to be seen for who God created me to be. No longer longing for you to turn your head my way so that I can impress you, instead my hope is that in seeing me, you will see Him. When I belong, my heart is set on His approval, not yours.

I hope you let yourself be seen, even if you don’t fit the mold others have poured for you.

I’d love to hear about a time that you forfeited your own passions and plans to get the approval of someone else, and what you learned in the process. Let’s talk about it, leave me a comment.

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  1. Sheryl Anne Lehman says:

    I had a group of friends, and yes, I fit in and belonged to this group in Jr High. I had developed my life philosophy and it coincided with others, not necessarily the exact same views, but rather ones that would mesh together well. We had even discussed our future goals and the roll each would play in our connected lives later in life.
    My roll was the one that brought us all together. It was my home that my designer friend would build. The landscape of which would be the undertaking of the friend with that interest. My finances were secure with the mathematician in the group. Home decorating, child care, and music appreciation were some of the other rolls as we made our plans.
    The connection with these friends was what some would count as a bond to last a lifetime. Why, then, did all that come to an end? Was it a connection more deeply rooted in my own mind, and not in others’? Or could it have been the changes that took place after a single event in our lives?
    Someone once said it this way; People change and the world changes, and the bottom seems to drop out of your life. But God does not change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He put us here and He knows where we are.
    God has a plan for each one of us. He is the connection that will bring us together, even after one of those “single events” in our lives.

    • Sheryl, I know how you feel! I\’ve had people come and go in my life that I never wanted to go! I have had to mourn some of these too.

      I have learned to trust God as the seasons of my life change and relationships change.

      I think He knows that we might cling too tightly to others and not Him, and that this life is a journey and learning to trust Him is far more important than trusting others.

      But we still need to risk relationship! We see different qualtities of God in people that we meet!

      Love without fear!

  2. Oh Sue! I could have written this word for word! Legalism did this to me for years! I was not free to be myself, and felt condemned because I knew down deep who I really was, and because it didn’t really match those women who were around me, I was in a constant state of guilt. Trying to be what other’s thought I should be wore me out. When I would question things around me, I was cut off by those who were closest to me. God used a time of complete emotional and mental exhaustion in my life to bring me to the end of myself, and point me in a direction of finally learning to be free to be who HE made me to be. I’ve never been happier!! I finally am able to accept how He made me, and see it as a gift rather than a flaw!

    I love this post! Great job!

    • I\’m so thrilled you did Gina, because you are a beautiful woman of God!

      \”God used a time of complete emotional and mental exhaustion in my life to bring me to the end of myself\”

      I love that!!



  3. Beautiful Sue! I am finding that as I walking toward belonging it truly is a place of freedom, joy and being the woman God knows I can be.

  4. I have never thought about the difference between fitting in and belonging. I think, throughout my life, I didn’t feel like I belonged, so I tried to fit in. Fitting in is the counterfeit of belonging. I can so relate – the clothing, the verbage, making plans that centered around others, putting myself in the middle so I wouldn’t fall out of the circle. Now, I have a daughter, and I soooo want for her to be herself and avoid the temptation to try to fit in. She is a lot like me, so she won’ t likely fit in very easily without trying. With this new view, I will parent her in a different way, encouraging her to belong first to God, and to be who he created her to be. Maybe I’ll grow up a little with her along the way.