• Susan Stopinski

The need to BELONG

Several years ago I read a true story about a little girl. Her family had moved recently to a new city, a new neighborhood, a new school.

Everything she had known...changed.

On that first day of kindergarten she returned home, despondent. Her father took her upon his knee and asked what was wrong. I have never fogotten her words:

"Daddy, I feel like a mouse without a hole."

Does that just sum things up

at times for you?

I don't have to look too far back to remember the days or seasons when I felt like that little girl - when I have been that mouse. I have talked with enough women to know that through all of our changes in life each of us have scurried around looking for that place where we "belong" in different seasons.

Be it the need of a friend, desire of a date, marriage or children, a move, careers, education, middle age and emty nests.

Even if it looks on the outside like we are fine, even if on the outside we are surrounded by people who love us - it's easy to fool others. It's easy to begin wearing a mask when we don't want to appear lonely or lost, don't want to appear not to have it "all together"

We do it to survive - that plastic smile.

When we find our lives changing - whether it's controlled change or

"out of our hands" change, it can feel as if we are the only ones. Thats never the case.

Nobody is immune to this walk. The only difference is how we may handle it.

Within each of our unique personalities, if we can be willing to face changes with courage and vulnerability - our next step, piece of the puzzle or purpose will be revealed in a much healthier way.

How can we do this when we are the mouse without a hole?

When we are feeling stuck?

When we are blank on the answers to what we should be doing or how and when we should start?

When everything is changing as we knew it?

When we are not ready to take the mask off to another soul...just yet?

I Always Begin with Step One... A Comfort.

( In no particular order and sometimes all of them!)

My comfort is tears.

My comfort is prayer.

My comfort is a glass of wine

My comfort is buttered popcorn.

My comfort is a great pizza.

My comfort is holding my husbands hand. Quietly

My comfort is a walk.

My comfort is writing.

My comfort is a movie.

My comfort is music.

My comfort is art.

Over the years I decided to feel no guilt for step one. Why? Because I

knew I needed space first, to be alone.

I gave myself permission to feel the pain, sadness, questions and lack of answers.

My soul thanks me for this and feels released when I have not stuffed myself full of "religous how-to's"

When my soul is running around like a mouse without a hole, it likes good

wine and pizza.

So thats where I start. Only because I know where it will lead.

Outside of Myself.

I begin with a step toward another souls story.

(Whether I know them..or not. Vulnerability.)

Perhaps they are right where I am today or perhaps they were there yesterday. Perhaps we will help each other.

I begin questioning them about their Mouse hole. Their "not belonging" walk. (I have never met another woman who will not share when asked...or not asked ;)

And every time I am slowly filled up with wonder that we are all so similar.

I am slowly filled up with hope that God has a place for me right in the middle of my questions.

I just begin with today, my comfort list and that one soul.

You can too. (it's called Connection)

And its enough in those moments to realize once again that the need to belong is universal.