Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Knowing Our Belovedness

“You are my Son, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased.”
                                                                                                Luke 3:22b

Fifty-five years. That’s how long it took me to finally understand that I was beloved. I knew in my head that God loved me, but I didn’t know it in my heart. My self-talk was an inner critic, not the nurturing, grace-filled language of belovedness.

I didn’t come to a sudden awareness of my belovedness. It was a slow dawning, like watching your child grow. You live with it daily, so the growth is imperceptible, but one day you are aware that things are different. Turning points along the way mark our growth, like marks on the door frame mark the growth of our children.

What God says of Jesus at Jesus’ baptism, God also says to us. We are God’s beloved sons and daughters. God is pleased with us. How sad that so many of us have grown up in churches that spent more time telling us we weren’t good enough than in loving us into relationship with God, our Creator.

Ephesians 2:10 reminds us of our special place in our Creator’s heart: For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. God, the Artist, calls us God’s masterpiece! Of course we are beloved!

Coming to awareness of my own belovedness, that slow, slow journey, was aided most by relationships with friends. For most of my adult life, I felt like an outsider. I saw people with deep, close friendships and I longed for such myself. My hesitancy and busyness held me back from giving myself as a friend to others. But when I became part of a community formed of folks with a common longing for a deeper relationship with God, the Academy forSpiritual Formation, I gave myself to the community and others in the community gave themselves to me and to one another. Academy became the soil where my own seed of belovedness began to grow. The people with whom I journeyed in Academy modeled unconditional love and I found a place to call home.

Encouraged by my experience, I began to cultivate life-giving friendships in my local church. Over time, the depth and mutuality of such relationships coaxed my belovedness into full flower. Knowing the unconditional love of friends, I better understood the unconditional love of God.

It has not been a straight, linear journey. Several months ago I was faced with a situation that violently shook my awareness of belovedness. But thanks be to God, through the love of God shown to me directly and the love of friends who incarnated God for me, I am reclaiming my belovedness.

What I want you to know is that it is often a slow and difficult process to truly know in your deepest heart that you are beloved. It may be your whole life’s journey to accept and embrace your belovedness. But it is the journey that changes us, that shapes us into people who can truly love one another and God deeply, intimately, and wholeheartedly. I pray you will come to know, if you don’t already, your own belovedness. You are God’s masterpiece!

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