The Way of Belonging: Reimagining Who We Are and How We Relate, By Sarah E. Westfall
The Way of Belonging
  • Length: 192 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.5 in
  • Published: June 11, 2024
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: A0853
  • ISBN: 9781514008539

*affiliate partner

The welcome of God changes everything.

No one is a stranger to loneliness. Despite how social we are via text, chat, and notifications, we are far from being truly connected. We all want someone else to really see us and choose us for who we are. We want a place to finally fit in. But what if finding the right people or the right place is not the answer?

From her community-building background, Sarah E. Westfall takes our longing to belong as an invitation to embrace and extend the deep love of God. After years contemplating how she fit in and trying to earn acceptance, she realized "belonging is not something to attain, but someone to become." Through narrative, research, Scripture, and spiritual practice, she teaches how belonging is a way of being–a posture of welcome in the spirit of the Father who extends his arms to those returning and those who don't yet know they've resisted his love.

Whether you understand the perspective of the outsider in need of acceptance well or you're eager to include, the barriers to belonging can come down as Sarah gently guides us toward deep connection—a connection where our humanity draws us closer to people and envelops us in the heart of God. Embark with Sarah on this challenge that will awaken your empathy and affirm you with the truth of these words: "You are welcome."

Includes a two-session group guide.

"Sarah Westfall's words in The Way of Belonging are poetic and pierce the heart. She reminds us that true belonging and connection cannot be manufactured, checked off a list, faked, or forced. True belonging and connection emerge from finding home with God and others. Home transcends walls, roofs, and lines; it's the place where unconditional love, acceptance, and worthiness are found."

Terence Lester, founder of Love Beyond Walls and author of All God's Children

"Maybe you, like me, are homesick for Eden. And maybe your longing to belong is an invitation to a better story, one in which your heartache is honored, your questions are held, and your deepest desires are given space to be spoken. Sarah Westfall's exquisite book reawakened my own heart, opening me to currents streaming within that I'd been ignoring of late. It will thaw your heart too, awakening a hunger and a thirst for the Edenic inheritance of belonging tucked deep within your heart."

Chuck DeGroat, author of When Narcissism Comes to Church and professor of pastoral care at Western Theological Seminary

"In this kind and relatable debut work, Sarah Westfall offers a spiritually formative resource for anyone who questions their place with people, with God, or with themselves. While reading The Way of Belonging, I found myself nodding my head and sighing with relief. I'm grateful for this honest book."

Emily P. Freeman, author of The Next Right Thing and How to Walk into a Room

"With tender wisdom, warmth, and depth, Sarah E. Westfall invites us to examine our communal desire for belonging and journey with her into a lifelong practice of welcome. Sarah generously shares her own story and struggle while extending a hand of hope and hard-earned insight. I found my own wrestling alongside the stories she shared and found hope and a way forward for all of us who have wandered and searched for belonging and come up short. The Way of Belonging is a book for our time and for all time—it is a gentle guide and a wise companion."

Tasha Jun, author of Tell Me the Dream Again

"Belonging can be a fraught concept—both essential as we live into the reality of our belovedness and yet complex for many of us. In The Way of Belonging, Sarah Westfall has masterfully woven together a picture of our need to become our God-given selves while balancing it with the yearning we have to matter in the hearts and lives of others. I'm so grateful for this beautiful book."

Aundi Kolber, licensed professional counselor and author of Try Softer

"In The Way of Belonging, Sarah Westfall makes room for all of us at the table, no matter who we are or where we come from. With eyes open to the empathy that builds for other people in suffering, we're invited to find our truest sense of belonging in God's love. Instead of working hard to fit in, we can exhale and move in to a fuller version of who we were made to be."

Sara Billups, author of Orphaned Believers: How a Generation of Christian Exiles Can Find the Way Home and Nervous Systems

"When Sarah Westfall writes, I read. When Sarah speaks, I listen. Offering captivating narrative, scriptural wisdom, and a practical guide, The Way of Belonging will challenge long-held beliefs about belonging and offer a more life-giving approach to relationships as we consider belonging as a welcome we carry with us. Belonging is not something we passively hope for but rather a gift we are empowered to offer others when we absorb the reality of God's wide welcome of us. I feel excited about what might be possible in our hearts, relationships, and communities if we have the courage to practice what is written in this important book."

Nicole Zasowski, marriage and family therapist and author of What If It's Wonderful?

"The epidemic of loneliness in our country is a real thing, and in her gentle and engaging fashion, Sarah offers the antidote: belonging. While so many in our world are concerned with self-preservation, this book encourages us to see the isolated among us and to extend a hand of love. Her words are a beautiful invitation into a different way of being."

Shawn Smucker, author of The Day the Angels Fell

Read an Excerpt


Foreword by Lore Ferguson Wilbert

Part I: Who We Are
1. Out of Place
2. All Things Lost
3. The God Who Finds Us
4. Everything Is Yours
5. A Mobile Home

Part II: How We Relate
6. From Lack to Longing
7. The Art of Naming
8. From Them to Us
9. The Stories Between Us
10. From Certain to Settled
11. Say the Questions
12. From Breadth to Depth
13. Circles of Belonging
14. From Consume to Create
15. Seeds of Confetti

Epilogue: A Liturgy for When Belonging Feels Far Off
Group Guide


You May Also Like

Sarah E. Westfall

Sarah E. Westfall is a writer, speaker, and host of the Human Together podcast. Her previous work includes serving as director of community for online writing groups and as a student development professional on college campuses. She has been published in RELEVANT, Fathom Mag, and (in)courage. Sarah lives in Indiana with her husband, Ben, and four sons.