“I belong to God, and therefore, I belong here.”
That was what singer/songwriter Calee Reed kept telling herself as she entered sacrament meeting the first Sunday after she filed for a divorce.
Born in Rexburg, Idaho, and raised in San Diego, California, Calee Reed inspires and uplifts others with her Christian music and personal blog, “Life’s Short, Eat Dessert.” Calee tries to connect with others through personal experiences and heartwarming music, blogging and singing about her life, faith, and family in a realistic and genuine manner.
As she was growing up, her mother, who was a vocal coach, taught her to love singing. From professional athletic events to Disneyland, she sang all over Southern California with her sisters and recognized her love for performing. After high school, she tried her hand at songwriting, trying everything from rock to pop and working with producers to create music for shows like “Switched at Birth.”
However, when her mother became terminally ill with colon cancer, she shifted to writing and producing Christian worship music, which she credits as the thing that kept her faith alive. After a four-year battle, her mother passed away from cancer in 2011, leaving Calee to cope through writing music. She released her debut album, The Waiting Place, in 2012 with Shadow Mountain Records, followed by her most recent EP, “What Heaven Feels Like” in 2015. Her ability to translate painful experiences into songs of worship have helped audiences across the United States hear and feel her testimony of God’s love.
In a similar way, Calee’s blog stands as a beacon of light and testimony on its own. In a recent post, she drew attention to the feelings she experienced in church after her painful divorce.
I distinctly remember the feeling of walking into church that first Sunday after having filed for divorce. Holding tightly to my two-year-old’s hand, I headed into sacrament meeting to a row near the overflow section and prayed that no one would talk to me. Nothing had changed, and yet everything had. My husband and I had been separated for months, but I had never opened up to friends or ward members about my marital struggles. That Sunday, now that things had been decided, I suddenly felt like I was wearing a huge neon sign blaring the news of all my failures and shortcomings. The absence of my wedding ring on my left hand felt shameful and embarrassing. I knew it was only a matter of time before someone would ask, and I could either continue to skirt the truth with excuses or face the horror of saying out loud that my dreams of eternity had come to an end. I felt vulnerable and exposed; I felt like I was wearing a huge bull’s-eye, and I waited for the shots of judgment to hit me.
However, she explains the night and day difference between feeling judged and feeling like she belonged. She relates her experience of sitting on the back row in sacrament meeting, wondering to herself as she looked out over the congregation of happy families, “Do I really belong here?”
Immediately, she felt the answer come over her in waves. “I belong to God; and therefore, I belong here.”
In that moment, her feelings of judgment and negativity were dwarfed by the knowledge that God loved her and wanted her there at His Church, where she belonged. Instead of worrying about how much others were judging her, she focused on belonging to God.
Over time, I’ve realized no one is judging me as harshly as I judge myself—I’m the one casting most of the judgement (taking aim and firing at my own personal bullseye over and over again). People generally don’t have the time or energy to spend thinking about/judging me, Calee wrote.
The truth is: We are known and understood perfectly by a God who knows our hearts better than we know them ourselves. He loves me (and you) not in spite of our failings, but including them. He is the creator of each strength AND weakness we have, having given us talents and flaws to help us learn and grow. He loves us; we belong to and with Him.
Calee reminds us all that we often create our own roadblock to receiving God’s love and comfort. Rather than separating ourselves from the love of God, she invites us to stop seeing our differences, weaknesses, or sins as reasons why we don’t belong. As she explains, we belong simply because we are God’s children.
I don’t have to be anything to belong (perfect, married, covered in children, physically beautiful, wealthy, educated)…I belong because I am His. There is no other approval, no other acceptance, no other understanding that will ever matter in light of that truth.”
Calee’s blog post was also featured by Deseret Book’s “Time Out for Women” website.