This summer I have been reading “Life of the Beloved” by Henri Nouwen. The book has blessed me greatly and I wanted to share some of the thoughts with my LifeNow followers, so most of this article will be the thoughts of Henri Nouwen with a little commentary by meJ.
Nouwen begins by asserting “the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection.” It is possible that underlying feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness actually become the drivers behind our quest for success, power or popularity and even become the reason we seek escape through self-medicating.
The powerful antidote to this problem of self-rejection is the truth that we are God’s beloved, we have been chosen by Him. He has “noticed me in my uniqueness and has expressed a desire to know me, to come closer to me, to love me.” These two truths; our feelings of self-rejection and the truth of our chosenness, create the great spiritual battle, the battle to reclaim our chosenness (to believe we ARE the beloved).
Nouwen formulates three very helpful guidelines for this battle.
1) “Keep unmasking the world about you for what it is: manipulative, controlling, power-hungry, and, in the long run, destructive.” Jesus clearly told us NOT to love the world because all that was in the world was not of the Father (I John 2:16). The world we live in is contrary to God and His message of love. Circumstances and events, people and problems tend to wear us down and lie to us, telling us that we are not enough, we will never make it, we are less than. Paul encouraged us to “take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ” (II Corinthians 10:5). In order to reclaim our chosenness, we must continually expose the lies that the world around us is trying to deposit into our minds and souls!
2) “Keep looking for people and places where truth is spoken and where you are reminded of your deepest identity as the chosen one.” We all need a small group of people who know us, love us and affirm us as God’s beloved. Paul admonished us not to “forsake assembling together” (Hebrews 10:25). We all need a refuge, a safe place to process our discouragements and trials and a safe place to celebrate our belovedness in spite of the struggles! When we find this safe group of people we experience that the truth indeed sets us free!
3) “Celebrate your chosenness constantly.” A grateful heart is the expression of the fact that we are beloved by God and the recipients of a myriad of blessings. His presence, His grace, His mercy, His love, His spirit living in us, His Word, His promises… the list could go on and on. No matter how hard the world tries to pull us down we ALWAYS have something to celebrate and be thankful for. The expression of this thankfulness is both healing and life-giving!
There is so much more in this little book that speaks deeply to my heart. Hopefully I have whet your appetite and you will read it yourself. I do want to leave you with one more thought. When we begin to reclaim our chosenness “we soon discover within ourselves a deep desire to reveal to others their own chosenness.” This is exactly why I felt compelled to write this article. If YOU could only know how MUCH He loves you and fully believe that the God of the Universe has chosen you, that would change everything!