An Invitation to Belong

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Angela Spearman

I want to extend to you an invitation to join a community – a tribe – of individuals who are showing up daily and fighting for a quality of life they know they want for themselves.

This is an invitation to a wilderness trek. Not a literal wilderness trek, but figurative. In the form of an online discussion group for betrayed women meeting each Sunday. You can choose to step into this brave experience, to allow it to unfold, to enter into the larger whole. Will you join us with your whole self? Our community is made up of beautiful, courageous, smart, vulnerable, authentic, honest women. We have a depth to us that only comes through suffering, trial, and survival.

The women in this group are strong, wounded, healing, and in process. We don’t have all the answers. We don’t expect we ever will. We are human, flawed, complex, and fabulous.

If you are seeing this, you have already begun your own process of healing. Don’t go it alone. There is generational wisdom that can guide you and comfort you. And we need you. You belong and are wanted. We may disappoint you and we may surprise you with tenderness. But you will always belong, and we will always be a tribe.

If you’re wondering about my ‘wilderness trek’ reference, it’s because I’ve been reading Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown. In the book, she talks about a shocking finding in her research: that although we are inextricably connected and it is impossible to be autonomous, we must become aware of our connectedness by turning our attention to the influence we have on each other. And one of the most effective ways to do this is to simply bear witness to each other’s story. She writes, “Show up for collective moments of joy and pain so we can actually bear witness to inextricable human connection.” She also writes, “We have to catch enough glimpses of people connecting to one another and having fun together that we believe it’s true and possible for all of us.”

As a metaphor for this, she describes witnessing a stadium full of complete strangers gathered with a common interest (it could be football, a concert, a ceremony) and hearing them come to complete silence before singing a song full of depth and history. Every pause is pregnant with silence and meaning, resting heavy on the hearts of everyone present. Many wipe tears from their eyes as they strive to sing along. It is a bodily experience of belonging, bonding, and knowing. It unites, it silences the endless surface chatter, it impresses perspective and meaning and inspires a sense of well-being and hope. Everyone present realizes that he or she is a part of something bigger. Something sacred. She writes, “When we come together to share authentic joy, hope, and pain, we melt the pervasive cynicism that often cloaks our better human nature.”

If you needed any more reason to consider joining us in a process you are already engaging anyway, Brené introduces her readers to Susan Pinker, researcher of human connection. Pinker has proven that in-person interactions “bolster our immune system, send positive hormones surging through our bloodstream and brain, and help us live longer.” Pinker adds, “I call this building your village, and building it as a matter of life or death… Research shows that playing cards once a week or meeting friends every Wednesday night at Starbucks adds as many years to our lives as taking beta-blockers or quitting a pack-a-day smoking habit.”

I love Brené’s statement in Braving the Wilderness about having a wild heart. “A wild heart fights fitting in and grieves betrayal.” If that phrase describes you, join those already in the wilderness. You will be “surprised how many people are already live out there – thriving, dancing, creating, celebrating, belonging. It is not a barren wasteland. It is not unprotected territory. It is not void of human flourishing. The wilderness is where all the creatives and prophets and system-buckers and risk-takers have always lived, and it is stunningly vibrant. The walk out there is hard, but the authenticity out there is life.”

Join us in our gathering. Bear witness with us. You belong. You don’t have to be alone.

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“The mark of a wild heart is living out the paradox of love in our lives. It’s the ability to be tough and tender, excited and scared, brave and afraid – all in the same moment. It’s showing up in our vulnerability and our courage, being both fierce and kind. A wild heart can straddle the tension of staying awake to the struggle in the world and fighting for justice and peace, while also cultivating its own moments of joy.”