Have you felt left out? Have you felt like you’re on the outside looking in? Well so have I. I wanted to find out how to overcome this and how to be part of the solution for creating more community and belonging in our world, internal and external.
I spoke with Vanessa Hunt who is a blogger at At the Picket Fence, author and has a beautiful social media platform. She talks about how to make your home a haven. She also talks about how to find more belonging and more peace in your heart. Our conversation was so fantastic, and it was really neat the way it overlaps with my work as a psychologist. Read on to learn about how to find more peace and belonging in your soul. As well as, how to find and create more peace and belonging in your home.
“My desire is for women to experience what it’s like to have a home and a heart that’s filled with peace and I truly believe that that has nothing to do with perfection” -Vanessa Hunt
Vanessa Hunt believes that there are things we can do in our lives and in our homes that will have them be havens of peace for ourselves and for anybody who lives with us. She believes that if our hearts are chaotic, our homes are chaotic. And if our homes are chaotic, our hearts are chaotic. They are very much intertwined. She has such a strong desire to help people experience what it’s like to have peace in both these areas and the freedom that really comes from finding that peace.
You know, I was just editing chapter one of my Hearts Returning Home book (yes, a book is in the works). If you’re new here, I have a Hearts Returning Home course and it is about restoring the heart home and making it lovely and beautiful. Helping you regain a sense of belonging, a sense of security, and a sense of peace. What Vanessa is doing is helping women on the outside in order to help their insides and I’m helping women straight up on the inside.
I was just reading an article talking about how we are created in God’s image, we’re created fearfully and wonderfully in His image, but the abuses of life we are dilapidated from it. We are weathered, we’re worn, but those good foundations are there and so we work to restore that in our heart.
Vanessa mentioned that the overflow of what’s in our hearts goes into every other area of our lives and particularly in our homes because we spend so much time in our homes. I agree 100%. It’s all connected.
She has this beautiful platform where she helps women find peace in their hearts and peace in their homes. But Vanessa didn’t always feel that yummy peace. She moved around a lot growing up. Her deepest desire was to have roots somewhere. She always wanted that experience of people who knew her well. Many of you can probably relate to this. Other than her family members, Vanessa doesn’t have anyone in her day-to-day life who knew her when she was young. She really longed for that, but she’s come to realize that this gave her an awareness of what it’s like to be on the outside. Now, she’s always looking for the people who maybe need to be folded in.
“I feel like God just called me to that and allowed me to know what it was like to be in that position so that I could then turn around and provide that for other people. So, I feel like that’s my heart and that’s really what I want to do with my community, whether it’s in person or online, that everybody feels like they belong somewhere. And that they’re seen and known. So, that let me also to be thrilled that I’ve lived in the same city for 20 years now and yet I still have that piece of myself that feels like I don’t necessarily belong here and that’s OK. I’ve come to just be OK with that because it’s that thing that propels me towards watching and looking for somebody who doesn’t fit and wants to belong.” -Vanessa Hunt
I resonated with this so much! Part of my message is that God is using misfits and outcasts to be the next big thing. He is always called misfits and outcasts to be the next big thing! So, I love gathering the misfits and outcasts (me being definitely a misfit/outcast with the way that I was raised) and bringing them in, empowering them, and being this whole tribe- this Whole Life Tribe together.
Belonging came up repeatedly in our discussion. Vanessa stated that no matter what people see on the outside she thinks we all have that in us of wanting to belong, wanting to be known and to know. Those go hand in hand, knowing and being known. This means that you must be willing to step up and put yourself out there which can very hard to do especially if you’ve been burned. So true! She also says that you must be willing to know others in order to be known. It involves this constant tension of giving and taking that Vanessa has found revolves around doing more of the giving than the taking. She has come to be at peace with that and feels like that’s what God called her too.
If I could show you the first draft of my book, you would see just how many times ‘belonging’ is on this first page of this draft. Belonging is so key! It’s what we long for. I’m thinking about what I want on my ice cream sundae… scoops of peace and belonging, please.
Vanessa is right when she says that belonging is something that’s lacking in our culture today. We are seeing results now of that lack of feeling like we belong. We need to feel like we belong to something, that we belong to something bigger than ourselves. Vanessa says that belonging is integral to feeling that peace and being able to go out and share that with the world. If we are solid in who we are and whose we are, then we’re able to go out and expand upon that.
It can’t be just us in Jesus. To be honest, I used to be a little bit “it’s just me and Jesus”, but underneath all that was a root of rejection and abandonment where I was only going to let people in so far. We do we have to connect with people. We don’t need to merge with them, but there should be a connection where we’re still holding on to ourselves.
In her communities, Vanessa often shares that she didn’t find my really deep heart & soul friendships until she was in her 30s. Sometimes it takes time to find that connection with someone. Vanessa is grateful that she has 2 or 3 heart & soul friendships in her life now, but she is still called to have a community beyond those friendships. You can’t just sit in that small circle. If everybody would take that mentality a little bit more, maybe more people would feel folded in. Vanessa says that it’s OK for us to invest in other people and have other people feel folded in because there should be security in your friendships. If everybody would take on that philosophy a little bit more, then they’ll feel really welcomed and will come back again.
People are hungry for this. Not belonging really hurts. Feeling like you’re on the outside looking in really hurts. Sometimes we say, “Why me?”, but a way to turn that around that I’ve heard folks talk about near and dear to me is “Why not me?” We should be asking God what He is doing through this and how He wants you to fight this or submit to this or what is the word saying. Vanessa added that we need to learn to be grateful for the painful stuff. Things can be so painful and so hard, but they can reveal so much good. The hard things might even reveal a part of your life that you need to work through and bring forward.
The people who God called to love me most, many of them rejecting me very badly or abandoned me. And I must honestly say I am what I am because of that, in a good way. I believe we can choose to be bitter or better and I like to encourage women to make the choice to press forward and turn this into your calling. I have people at the end of my course, Hearts Returning Home, look at what they’ve been through these traumas, hurts, and losses and look at how that is tied into their passions and their callings. I love Vanessa’s story because her sense of not having a home, not having a sense of belonging outside of her immediate family, not having roots has caused her to enter into her purpose of helping other women to root into relationship, into their home, and into their communities. So beautiful!
“I believe that God takes our natural giftings and then we get these added layers of experiences that really take it to the next level.” -Vanessa Hunt
3 Tools to Have More Peace in Your Home
Vanessa was so gracious to share a few tips with us about having more peace in our homes.
Take the time to straighten up before leaving
“I encourage people to recognize that what you do before you leave your home affects how you feel when you come back in. So, as you’re leaving your home take a few minutes in the spaces that you see right when you walk back through the door- have those spaces be peaceful and calm. So, for me, that means that I see my family room and my kitchen when I walked back through the door. I might not be able to get the dishes all the way into the dishwasher, but I can get them off the counter and in the sink. I can pick up the pillows that were tossed off last night and put them back on the couch. So, little things like that because then when I walked back to the door I’m not greeted by mayhem. There may be other spaces in the house that are that way but walking back in feels like a peaceful space because I took those couple of minutes to make that possible.”
Decide what you’re going to fight for & what you’re going to let go
“I try to tell people to decide what you’re going to fight for and decide what you’re going to let go of because you can’t have it both ways. So, for me, that means I fight for my kitchen counters and I let go of my kids’ rooms. They’re not complete disasters in my kids’ rooms but I don’t spend a lot of time in there because those are their zones. If they want to LEGOs everywhere, it’s their space. So, I’ve let go of that, but the kitchen counters for me that’s something that I fight for. You can’t have it all. You’ve got to decide which things are going to make a deal out of and which things you are going to let go of and kind of established that in your head.”
Clutter is no more than postponed decisions
“I truly believe that when we allow things to build up basically we’re just postponing the inevitable. And I honestly think that you’ve made the decision at that point to have clutter. Whatever you can do to avoid cluttering and keep your home tidy. Tidy is different than clean. You can have a tidy home and when you do that it’s easier to have a hospitable heart.”
Find out more about Vanessa at www.AtthePicketFence.com
I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking about my kitchen counters and also thinking about the bag of books beside my bed. I love books, I love to learn. I’m a geek when it comes to psychological stuff and the bag books beside my bed is a decision I’ve made and perhaps I want to make a different decision. Vanessa says to just start with one thing, that’s all. That’s all you have to do.
I so enjoyed my time with Vanessa, and I hope that you will go and listen to the podcast episode I recorded with her where we go a little more in-depth about belonging and finding peace in the home. I love the overlap between creating belonging through faith plus therapy tools, which I teach on a lot, and creating a sense of belonging externally in your community and in your home.
You know, when we create belonging on the inside of our heart it is natural that we are going to want to extend that belonging. How do we create that belonging? We create that belonging by connecting with the Lord, letting him heal our hearts through faith plus therapy methods, and then extending that belonging outward. Part of that healing is in our relationships and in developing strong healthy relationships.
I also love what Vanessa said about having a healthy, enjoyable, peaceful home. And, yes, we do need to make accommodations for the people who live with us for those of you who have a family living with you or roommates living with you. But we can create a measure of belonging, safety, security, decluttering, serenity, and peace in our domain.
So good how the inside and the outside can both impact us in so many ways. The outside affects the inside and the inside affects the outside.