Beloved

I remember it like it was yesterday, but it was 7 years ago.

I decided to attend a retreat with my mom, sort of as a favor. I hadn’t spent time with God for so long, but I was a cradle Catholic, so I didn’t think that anything that would happen at that retreat would move me in anyway. It might make me nod and agree, and then I would be on my way. It wouldn’t make me angry, because I knew what the Church was and what it taught and was just sort of… indifferent about it.

Besides, I had my own things going on. This retreat was just about mom.

The retreat leader has us answer the question, “Why are you here? What do you want to get out of this?”

I had no answer.

Because you don’t plan for the moment that your life is going to change. You don’t plan to be knocked off your feet.

There are so many things about that retreat that contributed to sending me the path I am on, things that bring me joy to this day, things that I share with others when I talk at retreats or prayer groups. I can even identify the priest whose talk stuck with me and has given me a mantra for my life and how I use it to give glory to God. I even remember another priest telling me, in no uncertain terms, “this is your faith, what are you going to do about it?”

However, none of these things are the moment.

The moment that changed my life.

The moment that I realized I was made for more. I was more.

That moment came from another talk, again a priest, but I don’t remember that priest. Not because he wasn’t amazing, or didn’t say something that touched my heart. It was because he was relaying a message I needed to hear that I was too busy, too stubborn, too entrenched in my own selfishness and self degradation to hear any other way.

He read a passage from the bible, from a book I never really looked at before. Song of Songs (Song of Solomon)

“You are all beautiful, my beloved, and there is no blemish in you.”  SoS 4:7

He told me I was loved. By God. That I was created by love. You see, God has no NEED of us, but we are here. That must mean God wants us. He loves us. 

I knew that my family loved me, I knew that my friends loved me. I knew that guys I had dated in the past loved… things… about me. But I didn’t ever stop to think about if God loved me. If I had, I would have thought He didn’t love me. Couldn’t love me.

“You are all beautiful, my beloved, and there is no blemish in you.”  SoS 4:7

I hadn’t been to mass in so long. I deliberately flouted his precepts and disagreed with his church’s doctrines on many social issues.

“You are all beautiful, my beloved, and there is no blemish in you.”  SoS 4:7

If I had to think about God’s thoughts and feelings about me, I am sure I would have seen disappointment, or disgust. So why would I go there? Why should his feelings about me matter?

“You are all beautiful, my beloved, and there is no blemish in you.”  SoS 4:7

But it did matter, ohh how it mattered.

These words struck me sharply, piercing me and opening me up. It should have been terrifying… where was the darkness, the disgusting stuff inside of me? I felt as if it all should have been pouring out of me.

“You are all beautiful, my beloved, and there is no blemish in you.”  SoS 4:7

But there was not darkness inside, where the truth of God’s love resided. There was light. And it came pouring out, touching my whole life.

It was simple, but powerful; this message.

God loves me because I exist. I exist because God loves me. He will never stop loving me, no matter what.

As Henri J.M. Nouwen says: “We are the beloved. We are intimately loved long before our parents, teachers, spouses, children, and friends loved or wounded us. That’s the truth of our lives. That’s the truth I want you to claim for yourself. That’s the truth spoken by the voice that says, ‘You are my Beloved.'” (Nouwen & Saunders 35)

I am the beloved. 

This has always been true, but it took that day, 7 years ago, for me to claim it and realize its truth and the impact of it.

This truth has lit a fire in me that only saints have spoken of.

“From the moment we claim the truth of being the Beloved, we are faced with the call to become who we are.” (Nouwen & Saunders 43)

For the past 7 years, I have been on a journey, prompted by claiming my true self as a beloved daughter of God. It has only been in the last year that I have really felt like I lived up to the fact that I am the beloved.  Only in the past few months have I felt his particular love for me in a deeper way. Even then, I still despair of my future and stress about my present and agonize over my past.

Because the devil doesn’t want you to know you are the beloved. He wants you to think this world matters. But we were not made for this world. We were made for more.

The deceiver tries to trick us with his lies that seem true, and will drag us away from God faster than we know. He is very practiced at what he does. But here is the truth about the devil: he is a created being. He has no power in the face of Truth.

So today, when I was feeling tired and not wanting to get out of bed to go to daily mass, my friend texted me and suggested I listen to the following song. I felt the desire to share this part of me with all of you. This song was clearly made for me, after all. The devil does NOT define me.

I am Beloved, after all.


 

Nouwen, Henri J. M., and Cicely M. Saunders. Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World. Hodder & Stoughton, 1992.

One thought on “Beloved

  1. Such an inspiring, heartfelt, beautiful realization of God revealing Himself to you! Song of Songs is one of my favorite love stories! I go to it often when God woos me. Thanks for sharing Gods love!

    Liked by 1 person

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