Heathdale flower 14th October 2022

I Have a Place!

As a Christian community, no one should have to feel like they have to prove themselves to belong. We create this environment with staff and students treat their peers with dignity and help them feel safe.

Heathdale flower

Have you ever had the feeling you are in a space where you don’t feel like you really belong? Sometimes you may feel like you are a square peg in a round hole; you may feel really different to the other people around you, or the people treat you in a way that can make you feel on the outer. It’s not a very comfortable way to be and it can really make you feel undervalued or even worthless.

I can remember such a time as a teenager. The background story is that my parents were very keen and good tennis players in their day. I can vividly recall being taken each Saturday to watch them play. I have memories of my dad moving around the court smoothly and hitting the ball powerfully. He was skilled at tennis and won several club championships! Often at the end of a match, Mum or Dad would bring me on to the court for a hit even though, at that time, I could hardly hold a racquet or even hit the ball over the net.

Several years later, when I was starting to play competitive tennis in the Juniors ranks, I can remember walking out onto the court and I looking up to see these huge boys at the other end of the court. They looked far stronger and capable to me and when they saw me, they started to grin as if to suggest I was going to be an easy beat. Dread caught hold of my heart, and all I wanted to do was get the match over as I really didn’t feel like I belonged on the court with these bigger boys.

As things would have it, my partner and I won! Walking off the court, it occurred to me for the first time, ‘I really can play tennis. I do belong on the court.’ This proved to be a defining moment because I felt for the first time that I belonged. Consequently, I approached all future competitive matches with far greater confidence.

When we believe we belong, it can have a profound impact on us. It can give a sense of confidence and assurance that otherwise may not be there.

You may have heard me say before, it is my firm conviction that each member of the Heathdale community is here by design, here by God’s appointment, and that is why we all belong. This understanding can give each of us this same sense of confidence.

We don’t need to prove ourselves. We can simply live in the knowledge that we belong to this community. By belonging to God’s community at Heathdale, He has gifted each of us and He calls each of us to use these gifts to serve and honour Him. He has opened up the pathway for us to serve Him. Belonging doesn’t mean that we will not face some form of hardship or a difficult time in our lives, but it does mean that God knows exactly what you are going through, and He is allowing the processes of life to help sharpen and develop you and deepen this sense of belonging.

I love how this thought is captured this thought in the Book of Psalms. The writer states, “As for me, I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress. O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.” (Psalm 59:16-17)

Our sense of belonging is underpinned by our commitment to ensuring that each of us feels we are safe and treated with dignity. Safety is a basic minimum requirement and encompasses both physical and emotional needs. As a community we desire that all and, in particular the students, have confidence that their opinions, perspectives, work, learning and personal journeys will not result in their being belittled, mocked, excluded or otherwise made to feel unsafe. If a student or any member of this community believes that their safety is or becomes compromised, they will be supported, and the issue will be addressed.

We believe that every human being as an image bearer of God, is individually created and loved by Him and that this forms the basis of the dignity that is inherent in all of us. This dignity is always to be respected, regardless of whether or not an individual has made a personal commitment to be a follower of Jesus or espouses a faith in Christ. It is incumbent on all of us to respect each other’s dignity, regardless of any position, title or other factor.

As safety and dignity underpin our sense of belonging, my hope for each person in this community is that they are able draw strength from God because we know and understand that we are in His appointed place.

My prayer for you as a member of the Heathdale community, and especially for each student, is that you can know deep within your heart and mind, that you are here by God’s calling, that you do indeed belong.


Ross Grace
Executive Principal