Nov 24th to Nov 30th: Being the Beloved

Reading:  Being the Beloved

LoBcard“[your name], all I want to say to you is ‘You are the Beloved,’ and all I hope is that you can hear these words  as spoken to you with all the tenderness and force that love can hold.  My only desire is to make these words reverberate in every corner of your being – ‘You are the Beloved.” (P30).

1) Has anyone ever told you this before?  You are the beloved of God.
a) What does the word “Beloved” mean to you?
b) What does Henri want to say to you when he says “You Are the Beloved”?
c) Have you been rejecting this truth?  Are you more comfortable with low self-esteem or arrogance?
d) Why might you be more comfortable with low self-esteem or arrogance?  What need might this negative way of being meet for you?

2) This Advent, what can you do practically to create a place “where that quiet voice calling [you] the Beloved [can] be heard?” (P36)
a) What can you do to remove some of the “dry sand” that covers the well?
b) What might help you to hear the voice of God’s love for you?
INVITATION:  Please share some words from the Holy Scriptures through which God speaks words of love and affirmation to you (refer also to page 36 where Henri did this).

3) Henri, with all of his love and passion, is pleading with us to claim the truth of our Belovedness as our core truth.
a) Have you been tempted, in the past, to look someone or something else to affirm you?  Or tell you of your worth?
b) If you were to embrace the truth of your Belovedness today, how might your life change?  What might you be free to do, be, give or receive?
INVITATION:  Imagine the physical core of your body.  Put your hand there.  Now put the truth “You Are the Beloved” firmly in there.  As you go through each day, and encounter loud and persistent negative voices around you or in you, go into your core and claim the truth of your Belovedness.  What is the result?

As always, I offer these questions to help get our discussion going, but please feel free to share whatever comes up for you through the readings/comments of others.

Brynn

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115 Responses to Nov 24th to Nov 30th: Being the Beloved

  1. Janet McDonald says:

    I recognise the many times in my life I have looked to others to give me a sense of affirmation and of being loved. I now see , too, that only God can ultimately hold us and grace us with this sense of being wholly loved – but that has taken me a long time! For me, though, I think the love I have been shown from others has really helped me journey towards seeing this. The love others have had for me has been like a reflection , or a window onto God’s love. I suppose the difference for me is whether we see that ‘love’ as only from that person, or whether we see through that a reflection of the Father’s love.

    • Penny says:

      Thank you for sharing this. Your last sentence really caught my attention.

    • Ray Glennon says:

      Beautifully written: “…a reflection or a window onto God’s love”

      Or as it is sung in the finale to Les Miserables, “To love another person is to see the face of God.”

      • Maeve Binder says:

        Beautifully said. As I grow older, I believe the longing in our hearts, the need or craving to feel the love of someone else for us, is truly our longing for God and His love, the only love that can satisfy us totally. And when we truly love with our hearts, we see God in the object of our love. It is a most beautiful love. I try to see God in everyone I meet, as His love is unconditional.

  2. Barb B says:

    I have been told that I am the Beloved, but I still desire to hear it from my family. I tell myself that they believe it but do not know how to express it. Then I ask myself how well am I expressing it to them? This Advent I will step out of my comfort zone and express to my family that they are precious and beloved in God’s eye and in mine also. Thank you for giving me the courage to do so.

    • Denise says:

      Thanks for your post. It takes courage to approach your family with the truth. It is my experience that it is not welcomed as one would hope.

      Denise

    • Bob says:

      Thanks, Barb. I think you shared a key piece of this puzzle of being the Beloved. Could it be that it is not so much in hearing it but in showing it that we will come to see ourselves as the Beloved?

      • Latrilla says:

        Bob, that is an excellent point. I have questioned hearing being loved by others. A friend reminded me that love is an action. True! Just look at the love God bestowed on us through Christ! What love! To hear LOVE is one thing; to SEE it is totally awesome!

    • Ray Glennon says:

      I think that one of Henri’s key points is that when we hear (or experience, or feel) God saying, “You are my Beloved” we receive the unconditional love that only God can give. And we are called to share God’s love to the best of our abilities (and it will always be imperfect love) within our families and with others we come into contact with.

      At this time of Thanksgiving and preparation for Christmas, we all have the chance to reach out and touch others–and to open ourselves up to allow other to touch us. Our imperfect love for each other reflects the perfect love of the Father for Jesus and of Jesus for us. To love one another is to move ahead on our journey home to our Father in heaven.

  3. Latrilla says:

    In the past year and a half, God has been peeling back the layers of past pain and abuse that has kept me from accepting “being the beloved.” Control and stubbornness were my best friends as I wanted to maintain a sense of control in my life; they were also co-conspirators in keeping me from the greatest life I could have with God.

    The dry sand over my well had been people and activities that I presumed would make me feel the love I was searching for. Sadly mistaken! When I would run here and there, I was still left unsatisfied. When I feel the dry sand try to cover my well now, I remind myself of where I’ve been, how the past made me feel, and how I feel now with God.

    As I have been processing and accepting these growth opportunities, I am learning to embrace my identity as the beloved. It was hard to imagine how much God loved me because of my compulsive behaviors and self-rejection. I knew he loved me, but doubted the magnitude of his love for me because I felt unworthy. From hearing “you’re ugly” to emotional neglect to physical abuse, it had been hard to grasp God’s love. As I continue to walk in this process of spiritual growth and self-acceptance, I dig deeper for the things of God and recognize, that despite my brokenness, God loves me incomprehensibly. I now anticipate what God is going to do next in and through me for his kingdom and for my life. I am learning to be patience and not wander, waiting and leaning on his guidance and provision. I want to share the love of God to other broken people. Our brokenness is keeping us from the greatest love possible, that can’t be replaced by people, accolades, or accomplishments. God’s love and favor is all over us. From here God has given me a new name, which I didn’t know what he meant when I first heard it months ago-Beautifully redeemed!

    • Sally-Ann Timbrell says:

      Thank you so much for being so honest and allowing us to share in your vulnerability. May you know God’s blessing today.

  4. Ed says:

    I am late in coming to the blog, but I passed among this book and the blog to several friends. I plan to make this forum part of my Advent journey.

    This is my 2nd experience of a virtual spiritual experience (I did a Shalem Institute online group this summer). This is my first book sharing online.

    The Prologue reminds me of my own experience of my friendship with the Lord and with others. The “other” often beckons me to come out of myself. To explore; to see myself with more clarity; to move towards integrity.

  5. Ed says:

    A spirituality of seeing myself, and encouraging others to see themselves, as “the Beloved of God,” has been an enduring theme in my spiritual life.

    The insights of HN, though, are a new twist for me. To see the interplay between pride and poor self image in light of being the Beloved is powerful. Connecting arrogance and low self-esteem makes sense now that he points it out.

    It is very easy to fall into co-dependency. To only see myself in light of my last best (or worst) deed. To allow others to decide who I am – before them, before myself and before God.

    For Advent, I think this is a worthy point to ponder for myself and for how I encounter others. Today, for Christ the King, I am moved by the fact that it is the kind criminal who testifies to the Truth, and it is to him whom the Lord says, “this Day you will be with me in Paradise.”

  6. Christine says:

    I read Brynn’s invitation to add a line of scripture that illuminated this idea, perhaps truth, of being the beloved shortly after I had done my silent prayer time. Over the past few weeks I’ve been reading one stanza of Psalm 119 (that’s the one with 22 8-line stanzas) before I sit in silent prayer.

    This psalm talks a lot about commandments and judgments and decrees and precepts and laws. I’ve always had a little trouble with the legalistic aspects of scripture — and of the church. But what I’ve found interspersed in the lines of reveling in and striving to obey God’s laws in this psalm, are words of comfort and faith in Gods ever-loving care. Verse 162 (NJB) spoke of that joy to me: “I rejoice in your promise like one who finds a vast treasure.”

    God’s love is the treasure that is in the hidden desert well that Henri described. If I can brush away some of that dust and grit of legalism that stings my eyes and makes it hard to breathe, I can see that treasure more clearly. I can hold it in my hand and revel in the light reflected in its many facets.

    • Dottie L. says:

      Christine, I was re-reading last week’s comments, and I received a lot of peace from your sharing, esp. the parts about how your work was something you had to do at the time for your family and how you’ve let go of the past. When my sharing for this week passes muster, you’ll see why that’s so important. I am sorry about the loss of your son…that touched me deeply too.

  7. Martha Donnadieu says:

    I´m delighted to be learning so much about the love of God the way Henri Nouwen is presenting it to us, but also I´m thankful to this community for sharing life experiencies that are gifts to enlighten our paths. In particular I want to add the words from Mary D. to my mission in life: “I hope to be a catalyst to Christ in my community and family in small, quiet ways”. Henri Nouwen says that he wants to be our spiritual guide. I accept his guidance and thank him for that beautiful offer.

  8. David Walsh says:

    I know in my head that I am unconditionally loved by God, but to say I am ‘the Beloved’ seems like saying I am the one and only. That phrase was spoken to Jesus, not to me. It seems arrogance to think of being the one and only. It is another matter to feel in my heart that I am unconditionally loved; to truly feel as Henri says ‘make “you are the Beloved” reverberate in every corner of my being’. I do not feel worthy, and I don’t know what would convince me.

    • Denise says:

      You are loved by God as you are…a perfect son. I have read that he is a jealous God wanting your undying love in Him too.

    • Marty says:

      “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. And it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2Thessalonians 2:13-14

    • Bob says:

      It is at this point the online discussion has its weakness. We only have words with which to respond. I have no words in the moment, just a desire to sit beside you. Can we do that in cyberspace? :-)

    • Martha Donnadieu says:

      You are the one and only, the beloved of God… It is not arrogance to believe it, on the contrary, we must accept this free gift with humility and joy! We´ll never be worthy of such privilege, that is why is so wonderful!

    • Paul Thornton says:

      David, I understand where you are coming from, but even at the head level, if I trust that we are all part of the ”body of Christ” then indeed those words are spoken to me. Nouwen quotes to Fred a favourite piece of scripture of mine from Isaiah 43, I have called you by name, from the very beginning, you are mine and I am yours. Sitting with ‘I am yours’ helps to bring that sense of unbounded love to the heart level.

      • David Walsh says:

        Thanks Guys, I don’t know if I am being pedantic in picking on the phrase “the Beloved” rather than just accepting the fact that I am Beloved, unique and marked out from the beginning. Now trying to respond to that infinite Love. Actually, at this time of my life, learning in what way God wants me to respond.

        • Latrilla says:

          David you’re the one and only God created. There is no other like you! That’s why you’re loved so much!

        • Marianne says:

          God loves us unconditionally but not because we are perfect – it’s because He is looking through the Rose-coloured glasses of Jesus’ blood when he looks at us. That’s my take on it. All he wants is a relationship with us.

      • Maeve Binder says:

        I love that part of scripture from Isaiah 43. None of us is worthy of this wonderful, unconditional love, but we have HIS Word that HE loves each and every one of us, no matter what or who we are. We are HIS! Isn’t this absolutely amazing? And so comforting when we just sit still and think about it for awhile. Each day I give myself to Him with love, and each day He is with me every second just loving me back but oh, so perfectly, so unconditionally. How great is this, our God who loves us so much!

  9. Denise says:

    Beloved to me means God treasures me as His unique daughter with all my shortcomings and successes. I am a beloved daughter because I have been created by a Master…hence I am a masterpiece and ought to live as such.

  10. Liz says:

    It is now about 5 years since I was first captured by these words: “this is my bleloved, in whom I delight.” It was truly a most sacred moment that lingered for days, a moment to which I would find myself being drawn deeper and deeper into over the following weeks and months. Then the most extraordinary insight came. If I was the beloved, so was the person with whom I was sharing a meal, or the student in front of me, or the shop keeper serving me. Not only was Christ present and active in through and with me but Christ was present and active in through and with each person I encountered and each and every person living in this world and each and every person who had gone before and in all of creation. This was such powerfull stuff that it blew me away then, and continues to blow me away each and every time I reflect upon it or recognise this profound truth in the present moment.
    I notice that when I find that I am getting anxious or worried about how I might be living up to my own or other people’s expectations, or that I am getting concerned that I may be inadequate or failing in some way, if I am mindful enough I can usually see that at those moments I have let go of that sense of being “the beloved”.
    Likewise when I find that someone is irritating me, pushing my buttons or otherwise causing me pain or discomfort, I will find that I have list sight of them being “the beloved.” If I can see them and myself as “the beloved” compassion and forgiveness returns with abundance. Reading Henri’s words on “being the beloved” has affirmed my own spiritual awakening. I am truly blessed.

    • Paul Thornton says:

      Yes Liz, that is the wonder of being loved unconditionally, one day you realise actually that means that that person and that one over there and the one that got in my way this morning and so on are all loved unconditionally ……. and then you wonder…… and then you see them and yourself differently.

    • Bob says:

      In the thoughts that you have shared, I think, as Jesus said, ‘the kingdom of God is at hand.” Thank you for sharing.

    • Latrilla says:

      Liz, thank you for your words. At times when certain people push my buttons the love of God towards his beloved goes out the window! Great perspective!

    • Ray Glennon says:

      Liz,
      Thank you for sharing your incredible insight. I have repeated it below with a very small change in tense–because we are Beloved in the Present and Christ is present in the Present with us–Jesus is alive.

      If I am the beloved, so is the person with whom I am sharing a meal, or the student in front of me, or the shop keeper serving me. Not only is Christ present and active in through and with me but Christ is present and active in through and with each person I encounter and each and every person living in this world and each and every person who has gone before and in all of creation.

      This insight is profound beyond measure. It is the reason Jesus said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt 22:39, Mark 12:31). Or this from 1 John 4:11-12, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet , if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.”

      Twitter: @RayGlennon

  11. Bob says:

    In preparing to hear from God (and you) this morning, I used the traditional invitatory, Psalm 95. With the words ringing in my soul (vs. 7b-8): “O that today you would listen to His voice! Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness.” Then to hear the words, ‘you are my Beloved’. O that I would listen to His voice and not harden my heart with all kinds of false concepts and invalid thoughts. O to believe at this point the Lord knows what He is saying. My head knows it, now my heart has to accept it.

    • Diane D says:

      Amen Bob! I like your expression of getting our hearts and our heads both to grasp the concept and believe it. I find sometimes it’s one or the other, and yet when both head and heart are working in sync God’s wonderfulness is overwhelming!

  12. Jama Colegrove says:

    Hello,
    My name is Jama, and I live in Connecticut, in the USA. My days and energy are dedicated to my two grown children (one a prodigal) and their spouses; my three grandchildren; my gem of a pastor/husband; my few close friends; my work as a family therapist; playing my fiddle; and learning to walk authentically and closely with Jesus, no matter what befalls me.
    I was pointed to Nouwen many years ago by my then pastor, and I return to Nouwen often. His voice speaks to me in a unique way. I think his writing in some way reaches my wounded, artistic spirit, and gives me peace and courage. I am grateful God saw fit to make this man, and I am grateful that this man offered his gifts to our world while he lived. I’m also glad and excited about reading this book with so many people from so many places.
    Further up and further in!

  13. Gayle Whittemore says:

    Hello Friends.
    I feel so enriched by this experience already. I have realized for some time now, that my biggest resistance to the life of faith is my reluctance to see myself as lovable. As I listen to others, I can hear the same resistance in them. HR makes this explicit and that is so helpful.
    Yesterday just before worship, a boy came up to me. His mother died very suddenly just three weeks ago now. He was waving a paper that looked like it was an e-mail from his mother. He had just received it and wanted to know how that could happen. I had the grace to answer his question with “many mysteries in this life” and then went on to answer his big question with the simple affirmation, “What this says is that you are greatly loved, you know that don’t you?” And he nodded.
    I see that my claiming anew the power of being the beloved, made possible my not getting stuck in the ‘dry sand’ of his initial question and we were both embraced by the truth.
    As for scripture: I think of Jesus’ post resurrection appearance on the beach in John 21. Another church member was teaching a piece on lectio divina and used that passage. I was struck again with how full of life it is and how it shines with the great truth of love for all creation.

  14. Luciano says:

    I think Fr Henri would agree with F Scott Fitzgerald’s insight on love’s ability to heal brokenness.

    And in the end, we are all just humans, drunk on the idea that love, only love, can heal our brokenness.

    As people of faith we would wholeheartedly affirm the poweroflove, but in this book we are reaching fr not only second love(human) but ‘first love’.

  15. Freda Arevalo says:

    Greetings from La Habra, CA. This is the first time I take part in a book discussion and first book of Henri Nouwen that I read. As I read the prologue I understood what I have been searching for, I am a cradle catholic and have been involved in many ministries and have taken many workshops but none have satisfied the hunger I have to feel being the beloved of God. I look forward to the journey I have embarked in this Advent.
    Blessings,
    Freda

  16. Mark B. says:

    I have gone through some difficult challenges over the past few years. I didn’t feel particularly beloved then — but that was from my place within a maelstrom. But looking back, just outside the worst of it, my heart can now descry the loving hand of Divine Providence placing in my way at just the right time several persons who were truly beloved to me and who made me feel beloved. Thus it was so that by grace my faith was sustained by the love from neighbors who reignited my love for God.

    Among other battles, I fought tooth and nail to preserve the life of a family member. He now has, thanks be to God, quality of life.

    My reflection during Advent is to focus on God’s call for me through to the end of my life: whether to fight the emerging juggernaut of a mammoth bureaucratic health care system — one that now threatens the lives of millions — for I have glimpsed from within what can occur without a sustained and vigilant fight — one that threatens any meaningful doctor-patient relationship.

  17. Kayla says:

    The truth is, I rest in my self-rejection because it’s become safe. It’s a way of following the world’s advice of how I should look, feel, act and the pressure in society is high to have to follow through. Any failure to achieve these results just reaffirms the already held belief of being unworthy. I let the negative voice of the secular world yell while God’s voice becomes a whisper, that I quickly ignore.

    My life and purpose would change if I began to see myself the way God sees me. If I start using the Bible as my mirror instead of the one that hangs in my bedroom, then I’d see a much more beautiful person standing before me. Plus, if I saw myself the way God saw me, then how much more useful I would become to him!

    • David Walsh says:

      Kayla, That is the nub of it. If we know how God sees us, why can’t we accept that and bask in that glorious love? Feeling unworthy is not the only answer. There is something else and I think it is fear of the unknown commitment we might be asked to make. That is the difference between a saint and me. The saint says “yes” and takes up his or her cross or task or vocation, the worthy Beloved. But I hold back, the unworthy, as of now, until I make the full “YES”.
      Does this make sense?

    • Latrilla says:

      I get what you’re saying Kayla. Those voices MUST and WILL stop dictating our actions and behaviors that try to keep us down. Who are we to question God’s love for us? To disagree is to say God doesn’t know what he is talking about! Sometimes God’s voice will surpass a whisper to get our attention, “I LOVE YOU!”

    • Ray Glennon says:

      Kayla, Thank you for your open and honest sharing. In just a few words you have touched my heart, convicted me of my own self-rejection, and provided an insight that I need to hear now.

      At a Catholic Charismatic conference last weekend, I received the following sense: “I have healed your physical heart. Now let me heal your emotional heart.” And through the words of Henri Nouwen and your comment, I realize that this emotional healing is to move beyond my “self-rejection” and negativity in order to finally (I’m 63) accept with gratitude the gift of God’s love and the joy of truly sharing that love with my wife, my family, and those I meet along the way.

      Twitter: @RayGlennon

    • Elizabeth says:

      I know how you feel… The world is so in my face, even if I don’t want it to be.

  18. Todd G says:

    yes, i have been told i was the beloved. a few years ago during a difficult confession, a kindly, old priest told me those words with all the love and compassion in the world. it was like jesus himself was speaking to me. that beautiful moment will stay with me forever. a glimpse of the paradise to come….

  19. Bob says:

    As I sat with the thought, ‘you are the Beloved’ I felt the heat of the burning bush and I was drawn to it. I felt the need to remove my shoes because I sensed the ground on which I stood was holy ground. I felt the need to bow down as these words were spoken from the heavens. The heat is good, the ground indeed is sacred, a humble posture is so necessary to listen, and the words feel like a wonderful protective shelter in the presence of adverse elements. It is good to be here. I should like to stay.

  20. Chuck N. says:

    For me personally it is hard to accept that I am in fact “beloved.” Accepting it almost makes me feel guilty, like it is not deserved. In any event, I was interested in other Scripture that addresses the issue, and found the following in Chapter 10 of Job: “Your hands have formed me and fashioned me; … remember that you fashioned me from clay! … With skin and flesh you clothed me, with bones and sinews knit me together. Life and love you granted me, and your providence has preserved my spirit.” Hmmm, maybe I can accept being the “beloved” after all!!

  21. Bonnie J says:

    It is so much easier to be the one who gives rather than the one who receives; so much easier to be the one who loves rather than the one who is loved. I do know that I am the beloved, but there are times for me when life’s events/encounters overshadow this knowledge. It is my goal, my prayer, to always remember and believe. I AM the beloved. Many thanks to all of you have commented on this chapter. So many ideas I identify with. I especially appreciate Liz’s comments that remind me that in the same way that I am a beloved daughter of God, so is every single person I encounter in life a beloved child of God. Those who hurt me, who offend me, whose values are different from mine. Those who are on the margins, bearing derision daily. Every one is a beloved child of God, and if I were to cast judgment, I would be offending the Lord God’s chosen ones.
    Blessings on all.

  22. Brynn Lawrence says:

    What a truly amazing group of people we have gathered here! I so appreciate your honest thoughts, sharing, and support for one another.

    This bible very came to my mind this morning and I wanted to share it here:

    1 John 3: 1-3 “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,[a] we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.”

    • Lata Hall says:

      What a joy it is to read the inward movements of the Spirit on this beautiful subject of,’ Being the Beloved of God.’ For years, reading all scripture passages about God’s love, which many of you have quoted, they only applied to Jesus. It only meant that Jesus was the Beloved and as long as I followed Him, I am safe, and I will be cared for in this life. I do not think I could feel loved, because I was a female, had grown up in India, where female girls have very little value. I remember when My husband first told me, I was beautiful, I never wanted to hear that as I was told I was the least beautiful person in my family. But when I first read the,’ Life of the beloved,’ my life just changed. I was 60+ at that time. I keep in a kitchen drawer a piece of paper which just says, ‘You are the beloved, just remember that, but so are all the others.’ It removes the fears I may have regarding other people and then I need to be alone with the Lord and read what Henri had to say to Fred.
      Reading it with all of you just has made me feel SO MUCH MORE LOVED, and washes me clean from many past hurts caused in my childhood and youth. I am very trusting of God and His provisions for me.
      As I am a palliative care Volunteer in a hospital, I do my best to make the dying people feel loved by God or some who just call Him/ Her their creator. It is very important for the dying person to know that they were always loved and will always be loved. There are no rituals attached to it. God’s love flows freely like a river for one and all and we can drink as much as we want and quench others thirst as well, by leading them to this river. I have often read portions of this book to the sick and dying. God bless you all for sharing your love with me.

      • Janet McDonald says:

        What you do in the hospital sounds very special and what a wonderful gift for those people to be able to rest in the knowledge of being the beloved.

      • Marianne says:

        Thanks, Lata. I love the images you write about Gods love being a river. Reminds me of the verse in Psalms 46:4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the most high dwells. God is within her – she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.”

  23. freddy says:

    Quick intro: I’m from Ontario, Canada and a big fan of Henri Nouwen. I am a member of a mainline church and involved in a downtown missional church plant in my neighbourhood. As part of a men’s group, I have studied “In the Name of Jesus” and, just recently, “Life of the Beloved,” so I’m getting a double-dose of this book! This is my first on-line book discussion experience.

    My daily energies are spent at work, home and church and pursing several interests.

    Of particular concern to me are my two daughters (ages 21 and 22) who seem to be in pause mode in terms of their Christian journeys in a secular world. I am looking forward to reading the discussion on “Life of the Beloved” and hope to chime in with my own reflections from time to time.

  24. Ruth Grasse says:

    I am looking forward to Advent and this time of reading and learning more about removing the “dry sand” so that the living water Jesus promised he would provide can flow more freely in my life.

  25. Judy says:

    I suffered from extreme self-rejection after experiencing childhood abuse, and spent three decades in efforts to heal it via psychospiritual means within a Christian context.

    I made substantial progress, but the notion HN calls the “movements of the spirit” in Chapter 2 is relatively new to me and has been yielding unimagined gifts. I first explored this approach with Fr Keating’s work (in 2011 I began Centering Prayer, which he sees as addressing the human condition of being unaware how we are loved by God). Later I added Colloquy (talking with Jesus) to my practices, and I was guided to switch from Centering Prayer to 1) the Invocation of the Name of Jesus; and 2) Passage Meditation as my forms of contemplation. God is indeed good: though I am far from truly feeling beloved, I’ve had dramatic milestones. One was when I recently started using the 1st stanza of the hymn “Love Unknown” in Passage Meditation:

    My song is love unknown,
    My Saviour’s love to me;
    Love to the loveless shown,
    That they might lovely be.
    O who am I, that for my sake
    My Lord should take frail flesh and die?

    Last Sunday I was invited by friends to an unfamiliar church. I prayed to not be self-conscious / self-absorbed, and felt like I was failing. Then the Gospel singer got to “In the Garden” and I started crying without control. So along with so much of the sharing here so far, I was moved by Liz’s words,

    “I notice that when I find that I am getting anxious or worried about how I might be living up to my own or other people’s expectations, or that I am getting concerned that I may be inadequate or failing in some way, if I am mindful enough I can usually see that at those moments I have let go of that sense of being “the beloved”.”

    Being guided to this retreat was surely an act of God’s love for me, and my gratitude knows no bounds.

    Overflowing blessings,

    Judy

  26. freddy says:

    I have a problem with using the word ‘beloved’ in the context of our post-modern secular world. It is not a word in common usage today. In “In the Name of Jesus,” HN refers to “first love.” Because God loves me first, I can now love myself and others. This makes sense. To be able to express this truth to people with no faith background, I want to translate ‘beloved’ into some other word or phrase. Any suggestions?

    • Chuck N. says:

      Excellent point Freddy. So, I was thinking, what would we like to hear from someone else? How about precious? Not a lot of synonyms for beloved. Or maybe cherished, or treasured? Just some thoughts. But I do understand what you are saying.

    • Christine says:

      You mentioned your two daughters earlier. The way I think about the word beloved is the feeling I have for my own children and now grandchildren. The description that comes to my mind is cherished. I believe my creator cherishes me as I cherish my offspring.

  27. Ray Glennon says:

    I’m writing this post after completing the reading this evening but prior to reading the 45 comments already posted. There were two ideas in this section that were meaningful to me.

    First, we learn something about Henri’s humility and openness to the movement of the Spirit when he describes his discussion with Fred about the word Beloved. Henri writes, “I had read these words and even reflected on them in sermons and lectures, but it is only since our talks in New York that they have taken on a meaning far beyond the boundaries of my own tradition… inner conviction that the words “You are my Beloved” revealed the most intimate truth about all human beings, whether they belong to any particular tradition or not.” Nouwen is widely acknowledged as one of the great spiritual writers of the late-20th century and he readily acknowledges that perhaps his defining spiritual insight was reaffirmed, deepened, and strengthened in discussions with a secular seeker. And we are the present day beneficiaries of Henri’s and Fred’s dialogue.

    Second, Henri’s description of how the negative voices of self-rejection create a barrier to our accepting that we are the Beloved was something that I undeniably needed to be reminded of at this time in my life. Without question I have been greatly blessed in all aspects of my life – in my family, my Church community, and professionally. However, I know I have difficulty hearing the voice “You are my Beloved.” Or if I do here the voice, I respond the same way that Luke Skywalker does when Yoda raises Luke’s X-wing fighter from the swamp, “I don’t believe it.” And Yoda’s retort is pointed: “That is why you fail.” Well, Henri tells us, repeatedly, you can believe it. It’s true. You are the Beloved. It is the essential truth that should form the core of our existence.

    Perhaps writing this will help me to accept that truth that I so often deny or allow to be drowned out with the business of the world. Why? Henri could be writing about me: “…but, somehow, all these signs of love were not sufficient to convince me that I was the Beloved. Beneath all my seemingly strong self-confidence there remained the question: ‘If all those who shower me with so much attention could see me and know me in my innermost self, would they still love me?’” Of course, the truth that Henri wants me and every person to grasp and to live by is that God–the One who can see our innermost self and who knew my innermost self before I was born–does, in fact, love me. I am God’s Beloved. It’s the greatest of possible gifts. Now I pray that I can live this reality–one day at a time.

    And it’s a gift to be able to reflect on this reading with such a spirit-filled and caring community. For those in the United States, may you have a joyous and blessed Thanksgiving.

  28. Deacon John DelQuadro says:

    We are so overwhelmed by God’s/ Jesus’ generosity and our own inability to reciprocate, that we often feel uncomfortable or unworthy to be His beloved. Fortunately, it’s Him and not us that makes that determination.

    • Chuck N. says:

      Deacon John, “uncomfortable” and “unworthy” articulate basically what I was thinking. I find it difficult to accept. Kind of like a “who? me???” kind of thing.

  29. Greta says:

    This is a passage I learned when I was struggling with my self-worth and worrying about what others thought of me. I now spend quiet time every morning in scripture and devotion. God’s promise is there if we take the time to listen and praise him for all that he has done.
    Psalm 139
    14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
    15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
    16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
    17 How precious to me are your thoughts,God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
    18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

    • Maeve Binder says:

      Thanks for the reminder – this is another passage from scripture that I so love. Psalm 139 is one of my favorites.

  30. Christine says:

    I am so touched by the heartfelt reflections and the human truths, joys, pains, and struggles I’ve read here. I think Henri’s idea of “giving to each other the gift of our belovedness” is being realized.

    It is a blessing for which I am deeply grateful.

  31. Bob says:

    In the beginning, I was made in God’s image and God blew the breathe of life into me so I might have life and have it abundantly. But then I started listening to voices that caused me to have doubts which led me astray of being the Beloved. And here I am, still listening to voices on the outside that led to doubt and confusion about who I am. As long as I live outside-in, there will remain a lack of wholeness. I must return to the still small voice within that makes all things clear. “You are the Beloved.” Yes, I am the Beloved and You are my Lover. Now life can be lived from the inside-out as it was originally intended.

    • Mary says:

      Nicely said. Living life from outside-in, as you say, had me in a place of continually working to please others – at work and at home. It was exhausting. Living ‘inside-out’, as God intended me to live, gives me one focus. As I focus on living each day according to God’s will, and His will alone, the worry of pleasing others evaporates. I pray, throughout the day, that His thoughts will be my thoughts and His words will be my words, and give thanks that I am His beloved child. The interesting by-product is that those at work and at home are also pleased.
      – mary

    • Liz says:

      Bob and Mary
      Your comments about inside and outside have special poignancy for me. I am a prison chaplain and usually refer to in the prison as inside and out of the prison as outside. I know i am the freest I have ever been in my life since I heard and responded to the call to prison ministry. I frequently express this as being so free since I have been inside. And with some of the guys with whom I am present this is their experience. Inside prison they have found a freedom despite it being a harsh and violent place. I had not thought of this freedom experienced inside as coming from inside, in contrast with being imprisoned by the expectations of self and others coming from the outside.
      I also have come to discover that when my life gets a bit out of kilter that I need to take time to go inside, be that to go away to a quiet place (as I am at the moment on the edge of beautiful Lake Macquqrie) or withdraw for some time with my journal, or actively slow down and become present to and give thanks for the gifts that surround me: the warm cup of tea in my hand, the sun reflecting off the trees, the word of gratitude received. I know that transformation comes from the deep place inside where the divine dwells. And I pray that the guys inside our prisons will not be overwhelmed by all the negative voices from the outside and can come to know the freedom that is offered inside.

  32. Liz says:

    I know it will be a good day when as I lie in that space between sleep and wake I hear the following words arising within me: this is my beloved in who I delight. May each of us move into this day carrying theses words in our womb.

  33. Jan greene says:

    What a wonderful discussion! It seems to me that beloved is more than a concept that we can say in our minds or keep intellectually. Maybe beloved has to feel more like a mother’s hug or a tender embrace? It has a feeling rather than concept. If we are molded like clay, this physical act points to God’s tender love which is grace filled and forgiving. How nice for us to simply receive it rather than feeling unworthy which is what the world calls us to.
    Peace and blessings to you all at thanksgiving! Jan

  34. Ray Glennon says:

    I have just completed reading all of the heartfelt postings on this blog and adding a few comments along the way. I feel deeply blessed to be sharing this Advent journey with such a warm and caring group of God’s people. May the Lord give you peace.

    Twitter: @RayGlennon

  35. Jonathan says:

    It seems to me that Self-rejection can be very subtle. The world seems often to affirm people for what they do, you are good at this or that. But all this is just externals, things we do. It isn’t the real self. You can know you have certain abilities, but still be unsure about the real self. I can do good, do well, but am I good, am I worthwhile? Then more than ever you need to hear God’s “you are my beloved” which is so much more than valuing a person for the things they do. It takes a very wise person to accept themselves as they truly are, their shadow side and their light side.

    • Chuck N. says:

      Hi Jonathan, I think you are on to something here. Henri Nouwen wrote a short book that kind of addresses what you are saying, that in this world we are identified by others, and our value in their eyes, based upon the things we do. But that is of the world, and not real – only transitory. It’s not about what we do, but as you say, who we are.

  36. Miriam says:

    Happy Thanksgiving from southern California! I am an occupational therapist working with severely disabled young men diagnosed with autism. A friend has for some time recommended Henri Nouwen. Hearing my interest in Advent, he encouraged me to join this discussion as an intro. I look forward to gaining new insight from reading the book and your thoughts on the subject. – Miriam

  37. Barb B says:

    Happy Thanksgiving!
    I have so much to be thankful for . This sharing group is another one of my blessing. THANK YOU. I pray for each of you each day, You are truly “The Beloved”.

  38. Bob Malsack says:

    I add to my Thanksgiving list, thanksgiving for being the Beloved. In so doing I stop arguing with it and start accepting it as a gift which is what it is.

  39. Brynn Lawrence says:

    I’m thankful today for the love that our Father has lavished upon us, and for the many ways His love ripples out into the world. I think of all the acts of kindness that are happening right now around the world. The acts of service, of hope, of protection. I’m thankful for all the smiles, and all the laughter (can you hear it??). I’m thankful for the joy that flows through hugs and kisses. I’m thankful for acts of patience, and for those who wait patiently for what God has planned for them. I’m thankful for butterflies, bees, kittens and most of all the sunshine, which gives us an image of Jesus as the light of the world. I’m thankful for each of you, and the way you have offered compassion, kindness and vulnerability here on this blog. I’m thankful for the hospitality that is being expressed here and all over the world. I’m thankful that in any and every experience of our lives we have the opportunity to see how “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28).

    In reflection on this weeks reading… I agree with others who have said that self-rejection can be subtle. I’ve always felt valued as a person. I thought I had a healthy level of self-confidence. But a few years ago I realized how much I was worried about what other people thought of me and my life decisions. I was always putting out sensors to see if this or that person thought I was making a good choice. I can see it was a way of protecting myself. It was an expression of fear of failure. It was subtle… but it was very limiting.
    A very wise guide taught me how to come into my core, and live there. When I go into my core I find God is there with me … and I am so much more grounded. The process of removing the dry sand is often a process of removing distractions… carving out a quiet time to read the Bible and journal. To know myself, and to hear God calling me the Beloved.
    Although I wrote about my own self-rejection in the past tense, and the living from my core in the present tense… the truth is I still am tempted by self-rejection. There are certain situations that “get me” more than others. So I’m still in process, but I know the latter way of living is what God intends for me… so I continue in growth and in hope.

  40. David Walsh says:

    When I wake in the morning I can sometimes hear in my head the opening lines of a hymn from Morning Prayer or a Psalm. Lately, since starting this book, I keep hearing the refrain “I have loved you, with an everlasting love, I called you and you are mine”. You can hear it on U-Tube.

    • Elisa says:

      Beautiful. I too sometimes hear such music. I’m never sure what causes it, though I do find it comforting. It makes me think that I’ve joined others in praising God.

    • Maeve Binder says:

      Yes, a hymn we sing at church. Isn’t it beautiful? I hear that also so often.

  41. Joseph Piccione says:

    “Beloved” came to Nouwen, he writes, as a gift. After reading the chapter Tuesday night, I woke on Wednesday with the word “Beloved” echoing in my heart. A gift to Nouwen, indeed, and a gift to us.

    Perhaps “Beloved” is something of a one-word summary of a personalist Christian understanding of what it means to be human.

    The Letter to the Ephesians helps me appreciate that we are “Beloved” in Jesus from eternity. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world…. ….to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” (Eph 1:3-4, 6; NRSV)

    And so, I see “Beloved” as our true identity and starting point. Can you imagine the power of actually using the gift of “Beloved” given to N used as the starting point of an RCIA program — that those coming to the faith would encounter this, which according to St Paul, is God’s understanding of us!

  42. Judy says:

    It is early evening of Thanksgiving Day in AZ and I am grateful beyond words for being guided to this Advent retreat and all of you beloveds.

    I posted already that last Sunday I was invited to an unfamiliar church to celebrate Thanksgiving. I prayed in advance not to be self-conscious, but rather loving and present. It did not seem to be working until early in the service a gospel singer sang In the Garden, and I wept with no control. I realize now what that meant: that my core being, my real identity, IS more a question of being Christ’s beloved than feeling shy around strangers. I realize that experience was a reflection of the progress that has been made. And this progress will be ongoing with all of you in the days ahead!

    I come to the garden alone,
    While the dew is still on the roses,
    And the voice I hear falling on my ear
    The Son of God discloses.
    Refrain:
    And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
    And He tells me I am His own;
    And the joy we share as we tarry there,
    None other has ever known.
    He speaks, and the sound of His voice
    Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
    And the melody that He gave to me
    Within my heart is ringing.
    I’d stay in the garden with Him,
    Though the night around me be falling,
    But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
    His voice to me is calling.

    Boundless blessings to all of you gathered here who are also His own,

    Judy

    • Christine says:

      Thanks, Judy. When you first posted reference to this hymn, I found a few versions on you tube and was blessed by hearing those lovely words sung, seeping in to my heart and soul.

      I’ve been reflecting on the effect music has had on me, spurred on by your and others mentions of certain music somehow helping in that recognition of God’s love in a particular moment. At the same time I’ve been thinking about self-rejection as discussed here and in this book. The memory came back of times when I was at my lowest. These were times when I felt alone and weary and wondering “what purpose?”, particularly after my son died. If I prayed in those times, I wasn’t aware of it. I recall just moving through the days, one foot in front of the other. I’ve wondered, now, how I was reminded to listen for God’s voice in prayer and scripture and how I even came to a place where I could begin to re-connect to that love that I ignored for so long.

      It occurred to me that during those times of self-rejection and sadness music may have been God’s way of nourishing me, reminding me of my belovedness. I was just looking at the music on my ipod and realized I have a great wealth of old hymns stored there – I’ve always loved traditional folk music and consider many of those hymns part of that tradition.

      I had the strong auditory memory of sitting in my small apartment back in California just letting some of those hymns wash through me. I was being reminded of my belovedness in God’s eyes even in those times when any thought of that was far from my conscious mind. God was helping me drink from that deep hidden well even when I didn’t realize the well was there.

      Ps 136: 1, 16 – “Give thanks to the Lord…Who led his people through the wilderness, for his mercy endures forever”

      • Judy says:

        Hi Christine!
        I went through a similar period after my life partner died in a freak accident in late 2010. In fact I hadn’t been doing business with God since early 2009 because of a Job-like experience He’d put me through or at least allowed, which seemed like the actions of a sadist. I prayed rotely each morning that if there was some sort of sacred purpose to what I was experiencing to please help me hang in there, but I thought of myself as a de facto atheist. When I was alone right after my partner’s death (waiting for the sheriff to come get the body), I was going to take my life, as our connection was the only spiritual component of my life and I could not go on without that kind of meaning. But a voice deep within me said, “you still have work I need you to do.” I decided it must be the voice of the God I’d been alienated from, so I did not commit suicide and instead set out to claw my way back to Him. As part of that effort I bought a CD of gospel songs and In the Garden was on it–I memorized it but had no inclination it made any real impression (my faith was coming back at a snail’s pace). In church last Sunday was the first time I heard it again after playing it on my own in 2011. So my weeping had a special significance: I had come back into Christ’s embrace.

        Christ had since worked with me on His reasons for allowing the Job-like experience and on integrating and healing the factors that were at work (intergenerational sin/the tormented family tree which had perpetrated itself on me). I think that is what really made me trust Him again–that profound release through His grace. Along with immersing myself in venues, new friends, and the like that are Christocentric.

        So…this retreat with Henri Nouwen has a special meaning for me indeed.

        It meant a lot to me to hear your story –thank you!

        Judy

  43. Jinny says:

    Sharing in this discussion is totally new for me. What a comfort to read and think about all of us as pilgrims scattered around the world journeying together. Thank you. The book, the comments, my own reading and prayers are are awakening a new awareness of God calling me his beloved. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are!” I John 3:1 I love that verse!

  44. Sharon says:

    Reading all of the entries this morning was a joy. Being in the company of so many people who know God’s love for each of us his created people and wanting to really be so much in touch with that spirituality that we can’t help but pass it on to everyone we meet, sharing it with others who know too or sharing it with others who are hurting and coming into the full bloom of faith and trust in God. Some people have commented on using the word “beloved”. I have treasured centering prayer and the mantra “Be still and know that I am God.” To me I guess the word “beloved” is actually understanding what the meaning of “be loved and know that I am God” could be. The noun turns into an action word. A great problem in my life has been that I come from a background where we people always seemed to have difficulty communicating among each other our experiences of God’s love for us and also our deepest feelings for each other. Both admonishing and affirming were things we restrained from and yet both of these things actually are very loving things to do as they help us get a strong sense of “reality” as to who we are–God creates us, first comes to us and sets us on the path, always present, always guiding, but then all of us in our neighborliness of loving each other as we love ourselves need to follow Jesus in helping each out too. I really want to be better at following Jesus on this. To say or do something just at the right moment so that that person knows “be loved and know that God is God”, well some other people have been able for me too and everything I come along in this life which tackles the problem of us people knowing deeply we are loved by God and other people makes this old world a much more hospitable place to live and serve in. Looking forward to learning much and growing much from this reading and sharing this Advent season.

  45. Elisa says:

    Where I hear God best, is when I can settle myself in quiet time with Him. When I can do this, I feel at peace and accepted as I am as well as strengthened. However, I quickly forget this when I am doing day to day things and fall into the trap of self rejection. My challenge is to carry that quiet time experience into my day to day activities. When I don’t, I get upset with myself and feel so worthless because I know better yet not doing what I know. Reading everyone’s comments is so uplifting to me as well as encouraging. Thank you for the blessings you are to me and my journey of faith.

  46. Lorrie says:

    As I sit here warm and cozy at my brother-in-law’s home in New Hampshire many miles from our home in Florida I ponder the concept of “Beloved.” I read through the first pages of Henri’s book the words self rejection jumped out at me. I’ve found myself feeling depressed lately. The depression seems to be coming from a place feeling unfulfilled and a deep awareness that I don’t have forever to get things right. On the surface all looks well, I have a loving husband, a grown daughter who is happy, productive and independent. I have meaningful work and abundant health. So what’s wrong?
    The words self rejection come back to me. If I believe that I’m not enough, never enough, not good enough then no matter what is happening on the outside the inside feels a deep sense of yearning for something more. While this yearning has caused me to delve more deeply I realize that if I don’t “own” my self rejection I can never rid myself of it. But as I write these words a light bulb goes on. It’s the “I” that’s the problem. I can’t rid myself of “it” only through trusting God’s words, “You are My Beloved” that the shift can take place. Can I trust God’s words? I don’t know, I want to. Was it St. Thomas who said, I believe, help me in my unbelief”.
    Advent is the season for waiting. So I wait on God to remove the shackles of my unbelief, that I can truly believe I am beloved. I think of Mary at the moment she heard God’s call. She was receptive to God’s call and that changed everything. My desire is to be receptive.

    • Ray Glennon says:

      Lorrie, Both your question, “Can I trust God’s words?” and your answer, “I don’t know, I want to” are words I can readily identify with and call my own.

      The prayer you mentioned, “I believe; help my unbelief!” was prayed to Jesus by the father of the boy with the mute spirit that suffered from seizures that the disciples were unable to cast out. But the father trusted in Jesus, and Jesus himself cast out the spirit. And when the disciples asked Jesus why they could not cast out the spirit, Jesus replied, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:14-29)

      Perhaps the same is true with the spirit of “self-rejection.” If self-rejection can only be cast out by prayer and fasting, is there a better time to do so than during Advent when preparing to celebrate the birth Jesus? To truly “believe” or to have “faith” or to “trust” in Jesus is to do so not only with my head but my heart. I can write that and I can understand that. And my prayer this Advent is that I can truly experience and live the reality of being Beloved.

  47. John Woodhouse says:

    Hello this is my first time on this site and reading group. I have read some of Nouwen’s books and found them very helpful. I am Catholic formerly an Anglican. Married 39 years, retired librarian, 3 children, 2 lovely grandsons – the highlight of my week, organist, interfaith is my passion and I have recently completed an M.A. in Christianity and interreligious relations. I live in London and serve at Westminster cathedral with my wife. I run the interfaith group at the cathedral and have started a 2 year course on becoming a spiritual director.

  48. Liz says:

    I was reading this morning Ronald Rolheiser give two perspectives on perfection. One Greek and one Hebrew. “In the Greek ideal to be perfect is to have no deficiencies, no faults, no flaws. Perfection, to the Greek mind, means to measure up to some ideal standard, to be completely whole, true, good and beautiful. To be perfect is to never sin. The Hebrew ideal of perfection is quite different. In this mindset, to be perfect simply means to walk with God, despite our flaws. Perfection here means being in the divine presence, in spite of the fact that we are not perfectly whole, good, true and beautiful.”
    For me when I view life, my life and God’s desire for me with the eyes of the Hebrew ideal of perfection I can easily know my self as the Beloved and I can delight in this. However it is so easy to slip into viewing the world, others and particularly myself through the Greek lens of perfection and the self judgement, unworthienss, self rejection well up. I pray this advent to be given the grace to more deeply see myself and others through the Hebrew lens and be affirmed in my belovedness such that it becomes the way tha I am in the world and one of the ways that God’s presence is manifested in the world.

    • Dottie L. says:

      Liz, thank you for your sharing. What is the title of the book/article you read by Ron Rolheiser?

      • Liz says:

        Hi Dottie
        The book is “Prayer: Our Deepest Longing” by Ronald Rolheiser Franciscan Media Cincinnati Ohio, 2013.
        Blessings
        Liz

    • Bob says:

      Liz, thank you so much for bringing out this truth. The Greek way of thinking is primarily intellectual. The Hebrew way of thinking is seeking to be spiritual. That still is the case today. So much intellectualizing of God, so little seeking God spiritually. In this process of seeing ourselves as the Beloved, if we make it a ‘head’ trip, it won’t happen; but if we allow it to be in the heart and embrace it, being the Beloved begins to happen. I join you in your prayer that this Advent may be a time of using the Hebrew lens in viewing myself and others. With the Hebrew lens up to my eye, I see much more clearly. God be with you!

  49. Dottie L. says:

    When I signed up for this reading group, I had no idea that this book would address a spiritual conflict I’ve been in for the past two years. But why should I be surprised at the way God works?
    Around 20 years ago I was able to withstand the worst crisis of my life through the gift of realizing that I was God’s beloved daughter. This knowledge transformed the way I view myself and everyone else and made me more compassionate and forgiving. It was the greatest spiritual blessing of my life.
    Lately my sense of being Beloved has been eclipsed by my tendency to do an impression of Lot’s wife, looking back at the ruins and failures of my past, followed by the paralysis of guilt and shame, all of which helps me relate to Henri’s passage: “Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the ‘Beloved.’”
    I especially hear the truth in Henri’s words, because my failures have a lot to do with my not getting enough approval from the world. On closer examination, I realized that self-rejection based on the world’s view of me indicates I value the world more than God. Remembering the time God saved me when I wandered through a desert like the Israelites, I have decided to reclaim my Belovedness and to nurture this truth once again. In this last week of Ordinary Time which started with the Feast of Christ the King, I look to seek God’s kingship over me and take it with me into Advent and the new church year.

    • Christine says:

      Dottie, I like your idea of taking this renewed acceptance of my belovedness in God’s heart into Advent – out of the old year into the new, anticipating the birth – the greatest example of God’s love for us humans. Until very recently, I’d been away from the movements of the liturgical year, and I appreciate that insight into allowing myself to move within it and through it.

      I’m taken by the last gospel for ordinary time, today, (Mt 4: 18-22) in which Peter, Andrew, James and John simply leave their nets, their secular lives (their pasts in a way), and follow Jesus. Jesus called, they dropped their nets and followed immediately with no question. It feels to me a bit like hearing the sound of Jesus’ voice was all they needed to move toward him.

      Then in the beginning lines of tomorrow’s epistle from Rom 13: “Brothers and sisters: You know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light;”

      Advent – a very good time to come into and accept being beloved.

      • Dottie L. says:

        Christine, I’m glad you found something from my sharing and you’ve made me think about those Scriptures..I will spend time with the Gospel on the call of the Apostles. For me the liturgical calendar is the hub of my spiritual and psychic landscapes and provides the rhythm to which my soul can dance. (Ironically, I am a klutz, and I can’t dance physically…but I do sense that my soul can). I am so glad we are all sharing this journey together.

    • Diane D says:

      Dottie – thank you for sharing your experiences and conflicts! It’s hard for me to express exactly how I feel at times, and then I read what someone else writes and say “Yes! That’s it!”. What you said about not looking back at ruins and failures so touches my heart – at times I do the same. And we should not. I know that. But what is it that gets inside of us sometimes to make us do that? Is it human nature, or just taking our eyes off of God temporarily that causes that moment of thinking “How can God love me after that?”. Thank you for saying it out loud.

      • Dottie L. says:

        Diane, I am glad I helped. I want to figure out why I do return to this habit..interestingly a lot of the sharing in this group has calmed down several of my thoughts that fuel it and get it going. I’m going to watch it and let you know what I notice. All I know is I am feeling more peaceful since this reading group started.

  50. I have spent the past week soaking in those beautiful words, “You are my Beloved.” I loved the words that being completely absorbed in that truth, one can see others as the Beloved also. How rich and wonderful, these thoughts. I can’t move on….

  51. Nancy T says:

    I have struggled to grasp,accept and believe that God loves me. The human love I have experienced has been conditioned on my pleasing and performing and thus I fell into seeking this love from the outside. Likewise my relationship with God mirrored this faulty perception of my illusion of love. I would read how others expressed a deep abiding love for God. I kept waiting for a mushy feeling of”love” to arise from within me so I could then declare that I loved God. I realized I was seeking to know and love some vague sense of God.
    I have been reading Richard Rohr who writes that we cannot love a concept God. That is why God came in a human form in Jesus so we can then see God manifested and can actually have this love relationship with God through the humanity of Jesus. What a gift. I got that! RR emphasizes how we are all manifestations of God’s love. I got that! It has helped me so much to understand that I am worthy of love soley because I am a manifestation of God. I do not have to earn this love. It is a given. I am His beloved. It follows that each of us is also.
    Now the words “Be not afraid I go before you always, come follow me and I will set you free” are a true beacon for me.

  52. Karen says:

    Liz:
    Yes – thanks for your insight – it is so much easier to look to our past mistakes and failures than to focus on our gifts. Perhaps we had been taught as a child to “not toot our own horn” so to speak. As long as we stay in the past we cannot move forward.
    This has spoke to me as I have realized I am looking to others to provide my happiness and have recognized this as co-dependency. This Advent may I too be able to walk with Jesus looking in the faces of others and seeing Christ there, mirrored back to me. It will take a constant reminder to myself to accept that I too am God’s Beloved.

    Although I have read the book before this time the section on self rejection really spoke to me in more enightened way as even arrogance and low self esteem can cause the same feelings. A very eye opening read.
    Karen

  53. Patty Geinosky says:

    Happy Thanksgiving…. As I think about being the “Beloved”…. Yes, I have always felt uncomfortable about being talked about in a good way! Always being made fun of as a child, all these I have always felt “safe” thing negative of myself. I never want to be in the spot light. Through the years, I have ministered to hundreds of people and love each and everyone one of them. Here I am, at a time in my life when I now, can use alittle support and love too, don’t know where to find it, or when I do, very difficult to accept any love. As I come to having a new love relationship with God…. a whole new world has opened for me to love and to accept love!! The journey of Henri Nouwen has been a true blessing for me. God Bless……all!!!

  54. Elizabeth says:

    Removing the dry sand… the dry sand for me s the sins of my past. I keep brushing away with confession, acts of contrition and penances but they seem to slide right back. I can’t seem to taste the refreshing water of God’s life.

  55. Barb B says:

    Liz,
    Thank you for your sharing. I just wrote a short piece for my bookclub about perfection. When I was young I tried to be perfect, but constantly failed because I was looking with the eyes of the Greek definition of perfection. Today with gift of aging I look at perfection with the eye of the Hebrew definition. I am “The Beloved ” and God is less concerned about my faults and the faults of others than I am. God only asks that I love. This study is an amazing spiritual journey for me. Thank you everyone for your sharings.

  56. Jane says:

    It is very hard to embrace being the beloved. I appreciate all your comments and hope I can add more as time goes on. As Liz says, God only asks that I love and I am trying to do that. Thanks.

  57. Carol says:

    First, this chapter, truly, overwhelmed me! My thoughts took me to a place of abandonment, hurt and abuse; wondering how in the world a God of love could have allowed what happened; wondering, how I could possibly be God’s beloved! I think I am “comfortable” with both low self esteem and arrogance. Low self esteem is the root; arrogance is the defense mechanism fueled by anger.
    I can take more time to be quiet to remove some of the dry sand that covers the well. Listening, hearing and heeding to God’s voice when God speaks instead of rushing away in disbelief.
    Holy Scriptures that speak to me are Sirach, Job, Psalms.
    Oh yes, not only have I been tempted to look for someone else to affirm me and tell me my worth, I live it! Whew, how would my life change, first thing that comes to mind is that I would be independent and free; I would be at peace. I would be free to be more of who I really am, I wouldn’t worry about saying something stupid, wouldn’t wouldn’t be worried about pleasing, hiding, guilt, what I look like, etc! UGH!
    I am having trouble with the exercise, but I will keeping on trying!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Keep on trying, that is the thing to do. I believe that I must keep on trying no matter what. Giving up is not an option. But sometimes it is with a heavy spirit.

    • Anne McElheron says:

      Carol, your comment really resonated with me. My biggest problem with being the beloved is the sense I always have of being too lucky, too loved, when so many thousands, millions of people are starving, being tortured, imprisoned – or, even more difficult to take – suffering from natural disasters which are not of humanity’s making. How can this be if we are all beloved? I an trying to make real to myself “I have called you by your name, you are mine,” but it is very difficult.

  58. Maeve Binder says:

    I was away the week of Thanksgiving and did read from the book while visiting. So this late night, I have read through all the comments to catch up with this amazing group. I have found a wealth of commonality and spiritual thoughts on being the Beloved. All of you have enriched me with the gift of your thoughts. This is such a wonderful book to be discussing during Advent. I have read so many of Nouwen’s books, over and over, but I have never discussed them in a forum such as this. I find this group discussion to be so enriching and inspiring. It is a blessing to have this opportunity to share with each other in this way. God is so good! He loves us so much!

  59. Brynn Lawrence says:

    I echo many others in expressing my appreciation for this group – the honesty and trust that is shown here, along with true wisdom and encouragement!

    I’ve created a new post, titled “Dec 1st to Dec 7th: Becoming the Beloved – Taken.” If you come over to this new post you’ll find new discussion questions and comments focused on this week’s readings.

    To get to this new post you can scroll to the top of this page and click on the word “Home” located in the bottom left hand corner of the image of the snowy forest. Once on the home page you’ll see the link to the new post (the title in bold text that turns red when you put your mouse over it).

    Please join us in the new post, and add any new comments there (including comments in response to comments posted here).

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