It’s been one of those weeks. A conversation sent my soul spinning – back into old insecurities, having to fight off old lies. I thought that I’d matured beyond these fears, but it turns out I was just removed from the people who perpetuated them.
Perhaps you’re like me – one day, someone says something that infuriates you. It feels like (and maybe it is!) an attack on your dignity, and you end up spinning. Just going around and around in your head, defending yourself, then attacking the other person, then just being angry, then thinking maybe that person was right – then defending yourself… You get the picture. Finally trying to reign it in, only to find yourself entrenched in the cycle again a minute later.
Your mind is like the little circley thing on your phone/tablet/computer that tells you something is loading. You can’t move forward. It’s consuming.
Yesterday morning as I was getting ready for work, my eye caught a bookmark on my bedside table, given to me at a women’s retreat last year. In beautiful block print, this is what I read:
I took a deep breath. Am I the Lord’s beloved? ‘Cause I sure do need to rest. Soul spinning is exhausting. And I’m desperate for security. Trying to measure up to who someone else wants me to be is shaky, anxiety-inducing ground. I can’t walk on it; I only fall over.
So – am I the Lord’s beloved?
No, really – Does God love me? With all my weakness and sin and defensiveness and arrogance?
It’s tempting to think that this verse must be talking about Jesus, really, in the long run. But this blessing is not spoken to Jesus. It’s a blessing that Moses spoke before he died, a blessing over a whole tribe descended from one of Jacob’s sons, Benjamin. (Because, you know, words matter. Spoken blessings carry weight.)
And it’s in the Old Testament. Yup, the part of the Bible that often gets (falsely) characterized as displaying an angry God. Here’s just one example of God’s delight in His people: an invitation to rest secure in the fact that we are beloved.
But how do I know I fall in this category of “the beloved of the Lord”? Ah – this is where the magnificent sacrifice of Jesus speaks to my heart. God demonstrates his love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
I am beloved.
With all my weakness and sin and defensiveness and arrogance, God calls me beloved. Habibi, as Arabic speakers would say. It’s a tender, comforting word. And in it, God invites me to rest from all that exhausting sin and defensiveness and arrogance, to rest from defining myself by my weaknesses.
I am encouraged instead to define myself as “the beloved of the Lord.” He calls me habibi.
Not all of this went through my mind in the moment that my eye caught that bookmark. The verse was simply a reminder to me of what my soul already knows – of what I have experientially learned through many sufferings, spinnings, and blessings through the years. I smiled and went about my day with a lighter heart, slowly coming back to that beautiful place of resting secure.