You are God’s Beloved

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In the last couple of months, I’ve almost lost track of the number of times the word “beloved” has been aimed my way. It started in the communion circle, when the person offering me the elements said, “Natalie, you know this, you are God’s beloved.”

Immediately, I cried. Actually, it still makes me tear up.

On the Thursday before Easter, I went to the Garden Prayer service at The Revolution — an hour and half of prayer that started at 11pm. They removed several rows of chairs and circled the stage with pillows. The lights were low, the music was pulsing, and dry ice was blowing. Prayer time was not quiet. People stood, sat, bowed, curled over the pillow, cried out, spoke in tongues, moved around. The word that came to me often during that time: beloved. I was God’s beloved.

I sobbed. Loudly. Like I hadn’t since my marriage imploded in August.

The word kept leaping out at me from a variety of blog posts and sermons. And then last week, at the Renew and Refine Retreat the day before the Festival of Faith and Writing, the contemplative writer himself, Ed Cyzewski, provided this verse as one option for us to use for centering prayer:

I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me. (Song of Songs 7:10, NRSV)

Yes, it’s from the sexy book of the Bible, but an argument can be made for reading it as an allegory of love between the Lord and His people, so that’s how I took it. For twenty minutes, I lay on my back on the floor of my church and focused on that, singing to myself an old youth group song,

I am His and He is mine, His banner over us is love.
I am His and He is mine, His banner over us is love.
I am His and He is mine, His banner over us is love.
His banner. Over us. Is love.

And then Ed and another organizer of the retreat stood in front of each person and said their name, followed by, “You are God’s beloved, and His desire is for you.” There were over thirty people in front of me, so I got to hear them say it over and over, and anticipate them saying it to me. I cried the whole time.

You see, it stings a little every time because it makes me realize that I am nobody else’s beloved, and that I wasn’t even my husband’s beloved while we were married. So there is grief.

But mostly I want to bask in the knowledge that I am God’s beloved, and that He has chosen me and will not stop choosing me. He treasures me; I am His treasure.

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! (Psalm 139:17, NLT)

I’m grateful for each person who has looked me in the eye and told me this. And for each person who will do it in the future. Because I’m not done needing to hear it. It still needs to soak further into my spirit, into my brain, into my heart before the need is not so acute. But I’m getting there…

Of course, this is not just true about me and God — it’s true about you and God, too.
You are God’s beloved. Bask in it.

  1. This beloved theme resonates deeply with me. It has for many years. It is Henri Nouwen who has been my primary mentor on this truth. I highly recommend, “Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World”. It’s a book I have to read every couple of years.

  2. Thank you, Natalie, for this powerful, comforting, and encouraging reminder of who we are in Christ. I love your writing and the way you bring us into the presence of God.

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