By Talitha de Klerk

 

The first leg of our personal identity involves having a Sense of Belonging which largely involves our relationships with other people. It gives us a feeling of being accepted and at peace in a group. 

 

When looking at childhood development, this leg is largely established by experiences of being included by others and is hurt when we experience exclusion or rejection. We define our worth based on the degree of induction extended to us by the community or family we find ourselves in. Interestingly enough, this part of our identity cannot be provided to us by ourselves or on our own, but needs to be given/extended to us by others. We can however influence this process if we learn important social skills involving emotional and relational intelligence such as conflict resolution, boundaries and adaptability. 

 

This area of our identity reflects and involves Jesus as part of the Trinity. Jesus included himself in our world and included his disciples into his world. In John 15:15 He states that we are no longer servants, but friends, because He has made His plans known to us and so includes us into His life. He has reconciled us to the Father and to each other, by removing sin as a barrier to our relationships

If this leg of our identity is too long, it can be damaging because we then find our security only in the relationships and community we find ourselves in. It makes us very vulnerable to peer-pressure or pleasing people. This codependency also hinders us to take risks or a stand and implement boundaries when necessary. People who are overly dependent on their relationships often advertise/ brag about our symbols of inclusion and ‘name drop’ to show you they are ‘somebody’.

 

However, if this leg is too short, because of unprocessed rejection in relationships, we constantly feel unpopular, and struggle to have any trust in relationships because of previous hurts. We then often ‘hurt/reject’ before we get hurt again and struggle to involve others in our pursuits or to ask for help. As a result we then never fully experience the fulfillment of being known and loved, which ironically is exactly what we would actually need to heal in this area of our identity. This leads to the lonely road of trying to compensate with very high competence, trying to prove our value and worth to others in the hope of love and acceptance, which is often met with jealousy and exclusion again.

Picture by: Belle Co (Pexels)

So how can we find healing for our short ‘leg of belonging’? By finding a good friend/community or place where we can experience inclusion and acceptance as we are. A place where we don’t always have to be the best/perfect to fit in. This is why Jesus’ followers and church are encouraged multiple times to ‘love each other’ and to function as a healing community in which people’s diversity and uniqueness is celebrated. This builds a foundation of trust from which truth can be the growth necessary for healing within relationships. 

 

How do we incorporate this into our dance classes, through our curriculum? 

Firstly, we aim to confront students with the following biblical truths in the classes during the first few months of the year: 

You Belong (to God and to this community):

You fit in and are an important member of this group. You are wanted and accepted as you are. 

Relevant Scripture base for this truth:
– Psalm 100:3: Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture

– 1 Corinthians 12:16: And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body.

When we celebrate and embrace our own and others’ uniqueness/role within a group, we create a diversely beautiful and strong community. People who feel they bring an important contribution to a group, are more likely to keep showing up and contribute to that community. 

You are Kind:  

You are friendly, generous and helpful & considerate, as these are all traits most of us aspire to in our hearts. Random acts of kindness also makes us feel good about who we are. 

Relevant Scripture base for this truth:

‭‭Luke‬ ‭6:35‬: “But love your enemies, and do them good, and lend, never despairing; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be sons of the Most High: for he is kind toward the unthankful and evil.”

Showing kindness is a great first step towards entering into deep relationships and youngsters who learn this skill find it easier to make friends, instead of waiting for others to be kind to them first. 

You are Flexible:
You are capable of bending easily without breaking; ready and able to change to adapt to different circumstances 

Relevant Scripture base for this truth: 

1 Corinthians 9:22: “When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ.”

Good relationships require adaptability and the ability to compromise. When we learn this attribute early on in our lives, conflict resolution becomes a much less taxing burden in relationships. 

We then end the term with an age appropriate team-building exercise aiming to deepen their interpersonal relationships. Examples of great team building experiences from our identity survey research project in 2020 included: 
– Minute to win it/
– Obstacle Courses

– Boere sport/ Game Day

– Camps

– Choreo a dance/ show & tell

– Climb a Mountain/ Hike

– Sharing life stories

– Socials

– Race/ Marathon Together

– Acro Branch

– Cook together

 

From this firm ‘external’ foundation of trust, we can then help them go deeper into their relationships with God and themselves as the year progresses. Look out for our next blog when we will discuss the next part of personal identity, namely ‘A Sense of Worth’.