You Are Beloved

I've shared the following confession here before, but it bears repeating today because I have some incredible revelations that speak directly to it. 

For years, I've heard a voice in my head occasionally.  

Most of the time, it tells me negative things about myself, like "You're an idiot," "You always do this," or "Story of your life..." When I've made a mistake, even a minor one, those phrases really ramp up.  

But sometimes it will utter a soft, wistful question like "Don't you wish...?" or "Think of what might have been...?" The moments when I hear those phrases are heartbreaking and make me feel sad and sometimes hopeless.  

There have been times when the voice got really dark.  I'm not going to share those messages, though.  Even from a vantage point of peace (which I feel right now), I don't want to give them any power.  

Sometimes, the voice gets stuck on repeat, especially when things are not going well, I'm stressed, worried, or just feeling down. 

And here's the fascinating and probably not surprising thing about the voice I hear: It sounds a lot like my own.  

The good news is that the voice has been quiet for a while now.  I believe it's because I'm learning about myself, my struggles in giving myself grace, and finding the peace within me.  

I'm also learning that shame motivates those phrases that have run through my head.  There is nothing quite like a good old heaping helping of shame to spiral you into not-at-all-helpful thinking.  

Not all of us have the same experience with voices, phrases, or an internal monologue that endlessly points out how we mess up, but we all feel or have felt the effects of shame. 

Sometimes, shame can lead us to a kind of self-image that we grow to despise.  We may find ourselves looking in the mirror and feeling like the reflection staring back at us is someone we don't recognize or, worse, someone we can't stand.  

The late Henri Nouwen once wrote: 

Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the "Beloved." Being the Beloved expresses the core truth of our existence.  

I feel like so many of us need to have that quote framed and placed somewhere prominent so we can read it every day of our lives.  

For now, I want you to focus on the word "Beloved."  This is who you are.  Forget about the stranger's face in the mirror.  Let all the shame you have felt fall away---even for a moment.  

Say the word as you read it: "Beloved."

No matter what you might say about yourself, that is your name.  God has spoken it over you from the day you first drew breath and will continue speaking it over you until you draw your last. 

There is nothing in this world or the next that can separate you from the love of God.  There are no other voices in your life or in your head that matter.  Nothing anyone can say about you can negate the name God is speaking over your life. 

You are Beloved.  

May this word of life, your name, fill you with a sense of your glory and purpose.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  

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