Sometimes the absence of something tells as much as its presence could. When I receive my email from Lisa Jo Baker about Five Minute Friday and the prompt is “beloved,” I draw a blank. I mean, I think of Kay Arthur calling me “beloved” through some inductive Bible studies I’ve done. And the line of a song by Caleb Caruth pops into my mind: “I’m your beloved, your creation and you love me as I am.” But really, deep down, I draw a blank. I could write about my kids because they are deeply beloved by me. I could write about my husband’s handmade Valentine reminding me how beloved I am. Neither of these resonates. They are true but they don’t ache to be written; if I’m going to write, I want it to come rushing out of me, unstoppable. Beloved just doesn’t do that.
This memory haunts me. I’m riding a bus in an African nation, floating between the worlds of Western meetings and African community, processing this day-long meeting with a roomful of people I love but don’t always like. I think of the personality clashes and the conflicts and the ridiculous number of miscommunications that can happen when colleagues and friends gather to pound out their vision and reflect on their week and gripe about their challenges and eat. My head aches. I’m hot and I’m exhausted because people nap from one in the afternoon to three here but not when we are being our foreign selves, scheduling meetings through the hottest part of the day. The smell of fried street food and the sights of dresses billowing and the sound of horns honking incessantly recede in my mind as I reflect. The thought comes quickly and stays solidly, a mostly sure sign that I didn’t think it myself. What if we knew we were loved? Deeply, completely loved and accepted. What if we knew that the first thing on our Creator’s mind wasn’t our misdeeds or our limitations or how disappointing we are but our beauty and purpose and goodness? He created and declared us good. And marred though we are, his continuing interaction with us has not been that of a disappointed and angry judge but a father who gathers up his robes to run to meet us. What if we lived there, in that love, truly beloved?
What would become of these conflicts and clashes and the contempt and criticism? Would it all melt away? Would living out of this belovedness smooth our ruffled feathers and soften our sharp edges? Somehow in that moment on that bus ride, I am confident that yes, it would. But years later, when beloved strikes no chord with me, I’m still not living there. Oh to enter into His loving acceptance and find myself beloved.
Writing with the ladies at Five Minute Friday is such a gift. http://lisajobaker.com/2013/02/five-minute-friday-beloved/