A sense of belonging

On World Refugee Day, Max Jeganathan watches the Ashes, and reflects on the universal desire to feel a sense of belonging.

Australia is now officially the world’s best country! Well, at Test match cricket at least. We just won the world Test cricket championship. Though I wasn’t on the field that day, I felt a solidarity with my fellow Aussie cricket fans. A sense of belonging.

Today is World Refugee Day. For me, it’s a profound reminder of the preciousness of that feeling of belonging. Since my family came to Australia as refugees in the mid-1980s, I’ve been privileged to feel a part of so many communities. My family, friendship groups, sporting teams, 3 churches, 2 schools, 2 universities, a law firm, a political party and now, CPX.

I know I’m not alone in desiring to belong. It’s not just a cricket junkie or a refugee thing. It’s a human thing. The late poet and activist Maya Angelou wrote “The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”

For me, relationality – rather than commonality – has been the key to belonging. My sense of belonging has depended more on friendships built through time, trust and sacrifice than simply looking for people and groups that are like me. As I’m sure is the case for most of us, investing in relationships with the people around me has worked better than anything else I’ve tried, but there have still been moments of hurt and exclusion. When these moments happen, my Christian faith has helped. It affirms the importance of relationality while offering an extra layer – a relationship with God that assures me of membership in his family.

As the Ashes cricket series ramps up, I’ll be watching, cheering and enjoying the camaraderie that accompanies cricket fanaticism. But I won’t be forgetting that belonging is about more than winning or losing, it’s about who we do life with.

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