You Are Loved

 

crucifixion sunrise

When I was an 18-year-old college freshman, a chaplain at my school (Fr. Michael Ford) said the following words during a homily that have stayed with me all these years:

“Expect to be loved and be loving in return.”

Back then I was young and filled with insecurities. It felt a bit presumptuous to expect to be loved. Who was I, after all, to be worthy of such love?

It reminds me of something a friend said the other day. We were talking about the new love song by James Arthur – “Say You Won’t Let Go.” Assuming he wrote this song for his real-life spouse, my friend exclaimed: “How lucky this person is… to be loved like that!” Beneath her words was the subtle implication that she didn’t feel loved in this all-encompassing way.

I heard about a recent survey looking at happiness and well-being in adults, and 17 percent of all respondents said that they did not feel loved. How heartbreaking! I wish I could have found each and every one of that 17 percent and told them how wrong they were!

The journey of Lent and its culmination in the Resurrection on Easter Sunday shows us in the most profound way that we ARE loved.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

We were created to be loved by God. In his book, Life of the Beloved, Henri Nouwen describes it in the following way: “Long before any human being saw us, we are seen by God’s loving eyes. Long before anyone heard us cry or laugh, we are heard by our God who is all ears for us. Long before any person spoke to us in this world, we are spoken to by the voice of eternal love.” Can you fathom such a love? Can you fully comprehend the impact this Divine Love can have on the way you see yourself and the way you live your life?

And then we turn our thoughts to the second part of Fr. Ford’s advice—“be loving in return.” When Jesus gathered his disciples at the Last Supper he gave them this directive: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34) Parable after parable teaches us that we must love one another.

Yes—being born into God’s love comes with responsibility. One that we should welcome.

Sometimes I think our world has become less good at loving. People are defined as winners and losers rather than brothers and sisters. Cruelty prevails over compassion. Bigotry overshadows our shared humanity.

This is not what God hoped for when he breathed life into our souls. It’s not what Jesus wanted when he commanded us to love one another.

I invite and encourage you to reflect on Fr. Ford’s words during this season of Lent: “Expect to be loved and be loving in return.”

How will you acknowledge God’s great love for you?

How will you share God’s love with others?

A Time to Speak

shy

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak
Ecclesiastes 3:1,7

As a young girl I was shy and deeply introverted. This resulted in a rock wall of silence that took me years to chip away. In my high school classrooms I never spoke. I answered every question in my head. I came up with witty responses to the silly banter of adolescence, but never actually delivered them. My teachers begged me to participate, but the words just wouldn’t come out. Looking back at my high school yearbook, almost every note from teachers and acquaintances remarked on how quiet I was. Only to my friends did I open up and reveal my inner life. I felt safe with them. I could trust them with my truth.

This reticence lessened in college and more so in graduate school, but only by a little. My graduate advisor understood. She knew I wasn’t just sitting there, disengaged with all that was happening in class. In fact I was quite busy. I was learning, discovering, uncovering, soaking in, turning over, deciding, proving, agreeing, dissenting. All this was happening within the safe walls of my own mind. I knew that more was expected of me, but the words just wouldn’t come out. Almost like a crowd of people trying to get out of an elevator all at once. They were wedged in. Stuck.  If you’re an introvert like me, this feeling is probably all too familiar. Continue reading

Journeying in Faith

man hiking
I pray for the strength of Abraham.
How difficult it is for me to set off not knowing where I am going.
I am always one for charting the course ahead.
For knowing exactly what to expect.
But only You know what lies in store for me.
And I must have faith if I am to receive my inheritance.

Dear Lord I walk with You in FAITH
The substance of things hoped for
And the assurance of things unseen.

I pray for the certainty of Abraham.
Just as he looked forward to a new city in a new land,
Help me look forward to this unseen future,
Knowing that You are its architect and builder.
And You are mighty!

Dear Lord I walk with You in FAITH
The substance of things hoped for
And the assurance of things unseen.

I pray for the faith of Abraham.
He knew hopelessness and despair, as he yearned for a child
Though he was old and his wife was barren.
But You blessed Abraham and Sarah with a child.
Not just one—descendants to number the stars in the sky!
Bless my new journey, let it bear the fruits of Your glory.

Dear Lord I walk with You in FAITH
The substance of things hoped for
And the assurance of things unseen.

Loving God, bless me as You blessed your chosen one, Abraham
Teach me Your paths and guide me in Your ways
Let all that I do reflect Your love, mercy, and compassion
For my faith lies in You.

AMEN.

Show Me the Way

 

road
I hate driving to new places.

Anytime I have to do it I follow the same procedure. I look up the directions. Write them out in giant print so I can read them in the car. Try my best to memorize them. And head out, still a bit nervous.

This is not a good way to be. And I’ll admit this fear has kept me from trying new things and seeing new places. Lately I’ve been trying to pinpoint the reasons why I’m so reluctant to venture out to places I’ve never been. Two reasons stand out to me.

I like to know where I’m going. And I hate getting lost. Continue reading