My child is currently about the size of a pomegranate. At 17 weeks pregnant, I’m slowly starting to develop a “baby bump”—evidence that our sweet little pomegranate is growing steadily while continuing to make their home within me for the next twenty-something weeks.
As I prepare for this little one’s grand entrance, I often wonder about who they will become. I think about where my child will belong in this great big world because, after 30+ years of being here, I know how poignant that question has been for me. I ask it on my child’s behalf because for my little pomegranate such questions don’t have to be considered right now. My baby is still free from wondering about belonging; life simply met it one day and all that was needed to do was to make a home right where it is, just as it is.
I don’t know exactly when I began asking where I belong, but I remember it was sometime in elementary school when I started following fashion and music trends, not necessarily because I liked them but because I wanted to fit in—I wanted to belong. After years of conforming to what I thought other people found attractive, interesting, or impressive, I’ve since learned that this is the easy way out.
Conforming is a cheap way to experience a sense of belonging. Real belonging comes with work and boldness.
At only 17 weeks, my pomegranate-sized baby is modeling important lessons about the work of belonging. Growing and developing right where God placed it, doing exactly what their body needs done without conforming to anyone’s standards.
Not only is my baby blooming where planted, but it is making itself known. Oftentimes, I don’t want to inconvenience people or make a ruckus, and I can be quite shy in environments where I don’t know anyone. It can be easier to speak softly and go with the crowd, even if my true self is silenced. Belonging requires more than passively conforming or quietly tiptoeing around, it requires real work to make our true selves known.
For my little pomegranate, the work being done to make him or herself known is what connects us. Without the expanding belly, tiny kicks, and occasional nausea, I wouldn’t even know there is a little person in there with whom I can grow a connection. When the baby reaches out and unapologetically making itself known, the emotional connection between us is deepened, and we grow in our sense of belonging to one another.
Two years ago, my husband and I moved over 2,000 miles to a brand new city where we knew no one. The work of finding where I belong felt monstrous. At the first church we visited, there was a time at the beginning of the service when we were to greet someone we didn’t come with. This was my nightmare. I felt like an X in a room full of O’s who were all very good friends. Without access to a quick enough escape route, I sucked it up and began awkwardly introducing myself.
Hi, I’m Mallory. Yes, first-time visitors. We just moved here from Washington for my husband’s job…
Every word I squeaked out was like a tiny kick from the womb. Looking back, I see it as my pomegranate-sized attempt to begin feeling known so that I would someday feel like I belonged. I did what I could do: I showed up where God placed me and made a little noise, even if it was through forced socializing in the church sanctuary. Eventually, my squeaking became more confident and I no longer had to begin with an introduction. I slowly settled into a place of belonging where I can be my true self, though it hasn’t come without effort.
I don’t know what belonging will look like for my child, but I expect it will develop into a question to be faced. And when it does, I’ll remind baby pomegranate of his or her bold and steady presence in my womb, before the question of belonging was ever sparked. I will share what I learned about belonging from those days: Live boldly where God places you and make some unapologetic noise.
Thanks to my pomegranate, I am reminded that where we belong can be right where we are, but we may have to kick a little bit in order to connect.
Mallory ‘Larsen’ Redmond received her master’s degree in Theology & Culture from The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology. Recently married to her husband, Darren, she is enjoying this new season of life as a wife and writer. She loves dry humor, clean sheets, and gathering around the table with friends. You can follow her writing here, where her stories are told with the hope of further uncovering the places of connection in our humanity.