A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. —Brené Brown
My hubby and I first noticed it as we walked from the car park toward Disney's Magic Kingdom. In this sea of humanity lining up to enter through its gates. Male. Female. Young. Old. All walks of life. All cultures. All sides of the political spectrum. There we were. All dressed in Disney tee's. Many wearing Minnie or Mickey ears. Most wearing smiles from ear-to-ear.
What draws folks from around the country and the world to Disney's doors?
No doubt the rides are a big draw. And all the Disney characters. Then there's Cinderella's Palace. And the fun of climbing up the Swiss Family Robinson tree. Or traveling through countries at Epcot that you may never have an opportunity to fly off to.
But, I believe there may be much more to it than that.
I believe deep down inside it has a lot to do with our need to belong. Because, at Disney, it doesn't matter where you come from, who you are, what your political or religious backgrounds may be, inside those parks you are part of the family.
Standing in the middle of a crowd as varied as the crayons in a 64-pack of Crayola feels hopeful to me. Despite our many differences, we lay those things aside and find ourselves chatting with one another while waiting in line. Offering to take pictures for each another. And oo-ing and ah-ing together during the fireworks show.
We feel that same comradery at sporting events. Fans from every walk of life wearing their team colors. Waving their banners. Sporting their hats. That is, until we bump into a fan from the other team. That's where sides are drawn.
Sadly, in our everyday lives we too have drawn up sides. Particularly here in America where the divide deepens still. And it's so grievous to me.
It is especially grievous for those of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus.
Jesus didn't see things through the lens of politics, race or religion. He cared about every person. He even ate with folks who were as different as night and day to himself. The fact is, he loved us whether we were poor or rich, with faith or faithless, enemy or friend.
He is our best guide.
If we could only lay aside our differences to greet one another with an unfiltered lens. To crossover those barriers that divide. To agree to disagree. To meet halfway.
To love like Jesus does.
I think there should be more love in the world. I am talking about gritty, dangerous and wild-eyed love, radical acceptance of people. Belonging. That kind of love. —Brené Brown
If we could love like this, it would get people's attention. Rather than folks noticing how ugly we can behave and how harsh our words can be, they would take note of how loved they feel.
I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. Everyone will know you as My followers if you demonstrate your love to others. —John 13:34-35
As Brené Brown says… A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people.
When people feel genuinely loved, listened to and accepted wherever they are at—they are more prone to open themselves up—instead of building stronger barriers to defend themselves.
That's what Disney does so well. Whether you're a Mickey Mouse lover. A Star Wars fan. Or a Beauty and the Beast kind of person. You're all welcome. No matter your background. No matter your ethnicity. You're part of the family.
May we commit to be a people known for our love. With an open invitation to be a part of our family. A place where folks belong.
We do not draw people to Christ by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it. —Madeleine L'Engle