Have you ever caught yourself wondering where exactly you belong? It might be a cultural question if you grew up between cultures, or a vocational question if you’re unhappy with your career. It might be a relational question if you’re looking for a friend or partner who understands you better, or a political question if none of the political parties seem to fit quite right.
What about religiously? Have you ever wondered: what kind of Adventist are you?
“Well, I don’t like coffee, so I guess I’m conservative. But then I’m accepting of LGBTQ people, so does that make me liberal? But then I prefer not to eat out on Sabbath, because no one should have to work. But I also resonate with Black Lives Matter because I see where they’re coming from.”
Categories have always made it easier to make quick judgments about our compatibility with others, our place in society—where we belong. They reduce the overwhelming complexity and help us make sense of the world. But how much authority should they actually hold in our lives?
Divergent was a 2014 movie that shaped my view about categories. It was about a girl named Tris Prior who lived in a society divided into five factions. Each person entering adulthood had to pick a faction to commit to for life. In her initiation, she discovers that she is a “divergent” (spoiler alert…) and that the factions are simply constructs—they’re not actually real.
It’s common for folks to think “everyone fits into the right category, except for me”—which is ironic because most of us are walking around thinking the same thing! So, where does this type of social anxiety come from?
In Psychology Today Shoba Sreenivasan, Ph.D., and Linda E. Weinberger, Ph.D. write about the need to belong:
When the external markers that used to give us belonging start to fade away—maybe after retirement, or a divorce, maybe a change in spiritual belief, or political disillusionment—it’s time to go back to the basics and remember what really anchors our belonging after all. Do we believe that our identity is in Jesus? Do we believe that He makes space for us and that we belong in Him? Do we extend that sense of belonging to others who are struggling?
Sreenivasan and Weinberger end their article in Psychology Today by saying:
If you find yourself feeling “divergent,” it might be a moment to embrace your beautiful, uncomfortable human complexity, before finding the grace to embrace the same in others. At least that’s what we aim to do here at Adventist Today—a community of “divergents.”
News Editor, Adventist Today
10 February 2024
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