"Who are we? Are we what we do? Are we what others say about us? Are we the power we have? It often seems that way in our society. But the Spirit of Jesus given to us reveals our true spiritual identities. The Spirit reveals that we belong not to a world of success, fame, or power but to God. The world enslaves us with fear; the Spirit frees us from that slavery and restores us to the true relationship. That is what Paul means when he says: "All who are guided by the Spirit of God are sons [daughters] of God, for what you received was not the spirit of slavery to bring you back into fear; you received the spirit of adoption, enabling us to cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’" (Romans 8:15).
Who are we? We are God’s beloved sons and daughters!"
By Henri Nouwen
I love the idea of being God’s beloved child. I love that Nouwen is so insistent upon this notion. In my reading of his work, (which is a regular practice) I find that this insistence is a great help for me. You see, at my weaker moments I find it easy to assume that the premise of my belovedness could be nothing further from the truth. I’m not sure if it is true for everyone, but certainly for me, I feel at times like I cannot measure up. I fall into the trap that so many fall into – the world is constantly teaching me that my identity is wrapped up in what others say about me, and in what I do and how well or poorly I do it. Therefore it becomes easy to confuse a good homily with being in right with God, or a poor one with somehow not being able to be what I am supposed to be. It is natural almost to get down on self when one does not meet everyones expectations.
This reflection is a reminder of the tenderness in the relationship we have with God our Creator. You see for God – we are the beloved. There is no real debate about it. God has no grandchildren. God is Abba for us all. That relationship of Father is not a relationship of authority and power that comes to mind for many when we think of father. It is a relationship of tenderness, and of nurture. It is a relationship that we might know in some ways in our relationships with our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, spouses etc. In this assurance I can be free to live and love, to grow and learn. In this assurance I can do well, or fall on my face, I can succeed or I can fail, I can laugh or I can cry – I will be cared for and accepted by my God.
We have all met people in life who exemplify this confidence in who they are. I will always be grateful for the many who have been in my life who have been assured [regardless of what others say about who they are, or what the world teaches about success] of who they are and what they are called to accomplish.
I must say – I am comforted that when the world rejects me I am accepted by God. I am comforted when life hurts God still takes me … even broken. I am comforted that in my relationship with God – not everything has to be neat and clean and uncomplicated in my life for God to offer me embrace. I’m thrilled that God is in the middle of the mess that life can be some days saying “you are my beloved”.