The Search to BelongBy
Why do we search for our roots?
What’s important about knowing where we come from? Which tribe we belong to?
I’ve know people who were raised in a loving home yet when they discovered they had been adopted searched at great expense for their biological parents. There was a hole they needed to fill.
Each of us wants to feel we belong.
We need to feel connected. We want a family heritage beyond our immediate family. We find comfort in knowing who we came from. It helps us in some ways figure out who we are.
Yet some of us, no matter what we do, can’t find that heritage. Some really don’t want to. And yet it can leave us with a sense of emptiness.
I took a brief journey recently in search of my roots.
My surname was changed from the original only a few generations ago. I’ve heard stories of how it was inadvertently changed and what the original name might be. But the speculations lead to names that have less information about them than the one I have. I’ve always yearned to know who my forefathers were.
My wife and I went to visit our daughter in Washington D.C. a few weeks ago. We toured D.C. and Virginia and for our last weekend we drove to Philadelphia. My forefathers came through Germantown, a suburb of Philadelphia, and rural Lancaster County, Amish country. My father’s family were Brethren who lived among the Amish in a very similar life style.
So on Friday we headed out through Lancaster County on the way to Philly. After going through the city of Lancaster we left the highway and took a back road. We passed into Bird-In-the Hand where we walked around a farmers market looking at the Amish crafts and produce. I chatted with a few Amish telling them of my quest. Most only knew other Amish so it was a dead end.
Then back on our way we saw a handmade sign for “Homemade Rootbeer” at the drive to an Amish farm. In we went. The rootbeer was cold and delicious but the young Amish lady couldn’t help me with my questions.
Next stop was the town of Intercourse. Could I make that up? And no I have no idea how they got the name nor do they evidently.
We visited the quilt museum. My grandmother quilted.
The Amish men looked just like pictures of my great grandfathers.
I looked out over the rolling hills of the farms. My forefathers farmed.
Late in the afternoon we went into a deli for a snack and sat next to an older Amish couple. As we ate I turned to the man and said, “I was wondering if I could ask you a question?”
He politely replied, “Of course.” I’m sure thinking, “What does this city slicker want to know now?”
I explained to him part of my reason for the journey and about my family history.
He said, “Yes, there are a lot of Brethren in this area. And we all came out of a common heritage several hundred years ago.”
Then he asked, “What’s your last name.”
“Armey,” I said, spelling it for him.
“No, I’ve never heard of that name before,” he replied.
We chatted for a few more minutes then I thanked him and we drove on to Philly. In some ways I felt I had found a tiny piece of my roots. Probably, I’ll never find it all. I have more than many, yet there’s still a longing to know.
What about you? Are you searching for connection? Are you trying to find where you belong?
For many of us finding that family connection isn’t possible. But we can have a deeper connection, a family we’ve been adopted into that gives us our roots.
The bible says, “For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. . . . And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.” (Galatians 3:26; 4:7, NLT)
We may not be able to or really want to know our earthly heritage. But we still can be part of a family. We may not be able to trace our earthly lineage but we can trace our spiritual lineage. And we’re not just an adopted orphan but a full heir with all the privileges and rights of being a child. To me that’s good news. And it fills the deepest part of my longing for connection.
Max Lucado writes, “It would be enough if God just cleansed your name, but he does more. He gives you his name. It would be enough if God just set you free, but he does more. He takes you home.”
What are you searching for?
- A family? You have one with brothers and sisters, parents and children.
- A heritage? How about a new family name?
- A history? Complete and unbroken.
- Acceptance? What about forgiveness and unconditional love?
- A foundation? Would you like a new beginning?
- A family home? An eternal one.
- An inheritance? Of a king.
- Roots? The deepest kind.
And our requirement?
No rules to gain it. No duties to keep it. No perfection to deserve it. We can’t fulfill those things anyway.
God simply invites us. We simply need to accept.
And the search to belong is complete.
Please let me know if this post has been encouraging to you. Let me know your story. And if it has helped you please share it with a friend. And if you would like regular updates please subscribe. Thanks.
Douglas Armey, the LPL Financial adviser associated with this website, practices in Fresno, California and may discuss and/or transact business only with residents of the following states: California, Idaho and Oregon.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. All performance reference is historical and is no guarantee of future results.