Everything belongs

May 9, 2011

One of the most maddening things about the therapist I worked with in my 20s was her unwavering trust in my process. There was no edge of impatience to her listening. No worry.

I felt tied into so many knots through that season that I wished she’d be scandalized by at least *one* of them enough to push me hard toward detanglement. “Fix me!” I practically cried.

But she wouldn’t. She wouldn’t because she knew (or at the very least trusted) that my life was unfolding exactly as it should. That my being there was change enough. That my own wisdom and dreams were speaking every day to me, and her role was to witness, to mirror, to help me parse the language of my soul.

I think there are many ways to help, and sometimes more directive means than the ones my therapist employed can be useful.

But there is a deeply transformative power to unwavering trust – whole new worlds this opens up inside of us – and, maddening as it was at the time, I’m grateful to this day for the seed of it she planted in me by her modeling of it every single session.

I’m thinking about this in relation to you and me, and also considering the radical thought of applying it to every person on our globe.

Could it possibly apply that broadly?

What would happen if we looked at our lives right now – every one of us – with all the things we love about them and all the things we know we want to change, all our strengths and our neuroses, all the places of confidence and the fears and stresses and what-ifs that we carry, and trusted that the unfolding of all of it is good?

What if we trusted this to be true for other people, too? Even, yes, the person on skid row. Even the addict, the terminally ill, the suicidally depressed?

Could it still apply? (I feel shy and audacious even asking!)

What if we trusted that the exact pace we’re all going is right, and that if any of us were inspired to speed up or slow down, that would be right, too?

What if we trusted that our screw-ups fit into the big picture well?

What if we knew that nothing has been or is being or will ever be wasted or lost, and that even where we could talk about waste and loss on one level, the feelings that get evoked by such things – grief, despair, embarrassment, shame – and the actions these inspire, are important parts of our story, and are working their own magic to take us to important next chapters?

Could it be true? In the face of horrendous loss? Natural disasters? War?

What if indignation and anger and firm “NO’s” to injustices, too, are part of the process, part of the rightness of our world’s unfolding? And if the horrendous losses of the past are part and parcel of our compassion today, our awareness of others’ suffering, the global shifts toward acknowledging and honoring the dignity of all?

Richard Rohr writes a lovely book called Everything Belongs (lovely, I think, for those in and outside the Christian fold, as well as those with and without a traditional concept of God), and those two words feel at the heart of what I’m wondering.

Could everything belong? Truly?

If it could – and I’ve been leaning into this possibility for some time now – this changes everything for me. It removes a whole layer of frantic from everything I do. It takes the desperation out of loss, the sting out of failure, the shame out of my bumbling job at life…and the scandal away that I might otherwise feel about the bumbling efforts of those around me.

It breathes courage into the moves my heart asks me to make and patience into the way I mother and friend and daughter and partner the people in my life, because if the story we’re all creating and joining is a good one, if timeliness is doing its thing, and if we’re all in some great big bumpy process of waking up together, there isn’t any reason to fear. Not one. Everything – everything – is folding and unfolding into the process.

And where the thought of everything belonging doesn’t do such things in me, where I’m still left in my shame or fear or impatience or indignation, it makes me more comfortable with those feelings, too!

What do you all think about this? What would change if you knew to your core that everything – every little thing – belongs?

(Scandal and resonance and every thought in between are welcome here!)

This month’s theme at Trust Tending is Help (description here). Click here to view past themes and to see a working list of themes to come.
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20 comments   |   Filed in: Meditations   |   Tags: ,   |  


  1. What a timely post. I have been really fighting against the way things are unfolding in my life. I want things to happen faster. I don’t want to be uncomfortable. The thing is nothing horrible is going on but it just I want it to be FIXED! This post is really helpful because changing my perspective a bit does make everything less frantic and desperate. I think my mantra for a while will be everything belongs.
    p.s. I really want to check out that book you recommended. I’ll have to skip over to the library and see if they have it. Peace and thanks.

    Comment by keishua — May 10, 2011 @ 5:46 am
  2. Keishua, I’m glad this helps! I have enough history of feeling the very opposite of “everything belongs” that I wondered how it would feel to other people. There was a long season when this sort of idea would have made me LIVID to hear, I felt that indignant about the way the world was.

    So just in case anyone feels that way, please know I understand!!

    Comment by Kristin — May 10, 2011 @ 6:35 am
  3. Of course I’m wondering this myself more and more every day. And I’m finding that as I learn to trust, that I also see evidence of it in action more and more. Your line: But there is a deeply transformative power to unwavering trust – whole new worlds this opens up inside of us, hit me right in the gut. Becausre finally I understand this.

    Comment by Christine @ Coffees & Commutes — May 10, 2011 @ 7:04 am
  4. Christine, yes!! Without that experience in therapy, I’m not sure I’d have a way to understand it myself. I’ve been well-loved in my life, but there is a whole different level to the the unwavering trust my therapist offered. It was so transformative for me that I’m eager to figure out how it can apply and be nourished and practiced and known in every-day relationships.

    Comment by Kristin — May 10, 2011 @ 8:40 am
  5. As I read this it made me feel peaceful. Look at the little bugs they are what we all strive for as we go about this daily experience of LIFE,they are practicing loosening up and relaxation, as was talked about in a past blog.Trusting everything belongs brings a sense of calm-it is what it is and will be what it will be. Life unfolds at its own pace and we are active participants in the growth of this whole new world that happens if we allow it. Thanks for the peaceful feeling.

    Comment by Shandeen — May 10, 2011 @ 9:39 am
  6. Shandeen, I’m so glad for the peace this brought you. I’m still trying to get my mind and heart around how action and effort and freedom fit into this notion, because I feel like all three things do. I think it’s possible for this idea to turn us into apathetic third party observers; if everything is unfolding as it should, then what part do we even need to play? But I don’t think it needs to, thus…trying to hold a lot of things in tension…

    I’m afraid I’m not being very clear at all in what I’m trying to say right now!

    Comment by Kristin — May 10, 2011 @ 10:34 am
  7. This is so interesting to me. The other day my husband and I were talking about natural disasters, and the discussion turned to Japan, and all of the sudden, I thought “what if it was supposed to be so much worse? What if something happened along the way to make it much less horrific than it was *supposed* to be?” The idea makes me uneasy because it starts dancing with the idea of divine intervention, and I’m not comfortable with that quite yet. And so many people lost lives and so much… but, the idea of “everything belongs” fascinates me. I don’t know… it opens up a lot of possibilities.

    Ever hear the REM song “Belong”? Your post reminds me of my thought process on that song.

    Thank you- very thought provoking. Now I’m going to be pondering this for the next few weeks, and putting pieces of the puzzle together :)

    Comment by chel — May 10, 2011 @ 12:30 pm
  8. Chel, it is quite a trip to imagine the possibilities! My fears get triggered a lot by the idea of a God intervening sometimes and other times not (the times when intervention *doesn’t* happen are what make me shake), and have found my heart gravitating more toward the idea that all of it, the whole process, is somehow part of God, and connected. But goodness. Who knows?? Thanks for reflecting here with me.

    I want to go look up that REM song; I’m not remembering it just now. I always love to learn about connections between songs and the things I’m pondering!

    Comment by Kristin — May 10, 2011 @ 12:34 pm
  9. Kristin, you words always ring with such resonance… rippling out from such deep, authentic, pondered, genuine, mindful, heartful waters.

    I love receiving your blog updates in my inbox…but I always click on the link to the blog so I can see the illustrations. Sweet bugs. :-)

    Personally, I’ve walked such (seemingly?) disparate seasons on this topic. There was a long time (maybe 18-28)where it was pretty easy for me to see and believe how everything belonged, how everything is blessing. Then a long season of the opposite, and my own life becoming impossibly impossible….not to mention desperate, frantic…as you name so well.

    Now I’ve begun a new season of shifting gears and choosing to believe that everything belongs…against what feels like absolutely impossible evidence of the opposite. What I can say, is that it feels like rolling a humongous boulder uphill…except for the little moments where I pause, peek around, allow myself to enjoy the view, and feel that tiny bit of trust that things are working out after all. Already, the moments are beginning to accumulate, and it’s easier to remember that trusting feeling inside my being.

    So even though I feel scared as scared can be, especially that I may be somehow abandoning myself by choosing more trust…I’m switching gears. I’ve come to respect the “math” involved in life: that we get to choose our intention and focus our attention and the small moments add up and become patterns.

    Annie Dillard comes to mind: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing.”

    When it comes down to it, I’d rather spend my life loving and trusting than ranting and trembling. So I’m practicing honoring what the fear is telling me…and taking that information in the direction of trust.

    I’d love to hear more thoughts on this subject. Like you, Kristin, “I’m thinking about this in relation to you and me, and also considering the radical thought of applying it to every person on our globe. Could it possibly apply that broadly?”

    I really do think so. I might even say…I’m betting on it.


    Comment by Karah Fisher Madrone — May 10, 2011 @ 12:41 pm
  10. Karah, what you’ve written here makes me want to sit quietly, reverently. You *are* betting on it. I think the gamble is greater for some than others, too, and I have such deep respect for those who choose trust in the face of so much evidence against it being true.

    That Dillard quote, and your choice to spend your life loving and trusting rather than ranting and trembling, though: those make the gamble seem so wonderfully, almost desperately, worth it. What alternatives do we have??

    Thank you, deeply, for all you’ve shared here. And for living the life that you are.

    Comment by Kristin — May 10, 2011 @ 1:59 pm
  11. Kristin, I may not be expressing myself clearly enough, but your post is brilliant. Following is what I understand about your post.

    To me “Everything belongs” also means “things are as they are meant to be – perfect”. Our limited ‘self’ on the ground has only a tunnel vision. Our Higher Self has a bird’s eye view.

    To live with the concept of “Everything folding and unfolding and that everything belongs” requires faith, trust and confidence in that Higher Self who is all knowing and all pervading at all times.

    All we have to do is to remind ourselves that “Pleasure and pain are the two sides of the same coin”,and that “pleasure is an interval between two pains”

    Lord Krishna about 5,000 years ago, advised his friend and disciple Arjuna to remember always, whether going through pain or pleasure – “That this too shall pass”.
    So when we remember that this too shall pass, we are living in faith, trusting and surrendering to the process of life which is perfect at any given time. Time here would be cyclical, not linear as we are accustomed to think. “Everything belongs” in the Now, the present moment and the only moment in time.

    Thank you very much for thought provoking posts that are grounding me.
    With loving regards

    Comment by Padma Ayyagari — May 10, 2011 @ 2:18 pm
  12. Padma, I resonate deeply with what you’ve written here. I’m pondering similar things and trying to figure out how to talk and think about them in ways that feel grounded and relatable even to me. Thanks for putting words to these things here! I’m so glad you’re here!

    Comment by Kristin — May 10, 2011 @ 4:04 pm
  13. I am sooooooo with you on this, Kristin. It is a radical idea to follow and believe and trust that all is as it should be. That this too, whatever it is, shall pass.

    It is disconcerting and comforting to trust that everything belongs. And I think that it is a concept that each of us has to grasp for ourselves. I’m not sure it’s something we can teach others. We can model it and talk about it, but it is a step in the faith/life/growth/transformation continuum that must be made individually.

    For example, I cannot teach that truth to my 17-year-old daughter, who has been diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. It’s easy for me to say that even this belongs – because I don’t live her story. But as she looks at her life and her relationships and disappointments and fears and hopes and concerns, as she looks back and looks ahead, she is beginning to discover the truth of that for herself. As she does, she is feeling more powerful, more hopeful, more open to all that life/God is allowing to come her way. She also understands and accepts that sad, fearful, out of control times are part of the package. And all of it belongs. She has been able to share her story with others. She has been able to come alongside friends who have had similar struggles and speak to them of hope. She has come to see that even this, this terrible disorder, is part of a bigger story that she is living out and living through. For better and for worse.

    As for me, the same is true in mothering a teenager who struggles with this issue. I am supposed to be here in the midst of this battle. Fighting for her health, seeking the best assistance we can find – NOT being passive or “simply praying” for improvement but getting up off my knees and moving into action. All while trusting and watching and waiting.

    What a challenging and fine balance to maintain. Soooooo hard.
    But trust, hope, and action all serve to keep us balanced and moving forward.

    Comment by GailNHB — May 13, 2011 @ 7:13 am
  14. Wow, these are such great words, Gail, nestled so beautifully into your real life example. I love this sentence: “We can model it and talk about it, but it is a step in the faith/life/growth/transformation continuum that must be made individually.” Yes. This probably applies to nearly every good thing we can know and learn.

    Thanks so much for putting words to this whole process – the trust AND action pieces, both.

    Comment by Kristin — May 13, 2011 @ 7:30 am
  15. The timing and magnificence of this post opens me up to the possibility that everything truly does belong.

    Comment by Miranda — May 13, 2011 @ 7:58 am
  16. Miranda, so glad for the opening!! :)

    Comment by Kristin — May 13, 2011 @ 2:45 pm
  17. [...] post called Everything Belongs is a must-read, if only to open your mind to the possibilities of what life is, what it could be, [...]

    Pingback by What if everything in your life belongs - all of it? » The Best of Everything — July 7, 2011 @ 7:24 am
  18. Kristin, I feel at home here. It sounds so arrogant to say that I do live with an inner knowledge that everything belongs, but it’s true so I have to speak my truth. When I was able to grasp and assimilate this understanding, I shed layers of judgement. What a relief.

    Richard Rohr has also been a teacher of mine. The first time I listened to him on a tape (some 25 years ago), he was teaching a group of nuns about the Enneagram. He brought me to the mirror and gave me courage to see perfectionism. Ouch! :D

    I tried to leave a comment on Tracy’s post, but when I hit the “submit comment” button, I was told I was spam. So I don’t know if you receive these or not.

    Comment by Amy@Souldipper — July 13, 2011 @ 11:06 am
  19. [...] ~~What would change if you knew to your core that everything ~~ every little thing ~belongs? Such an insightful post by Kristin Noelle [...]

    Pingback by Saturday Digest~November 12 « Because Of Grace — November 12, 2011 @ 7:39 am
  20. I think you might really enjoy the book “conversations with god” if you haven’t read it yet. It’s about just that and so much more :)
    Thanks for this post, it helped me get used to the idea of living the present moment and loving what is.

    Comment by zimt-peppermint — June 13, 2012 @ 2:22 am

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