(Photo taken by Kiana a year ago at Yosemite)
The sweetest thing happened Sunday morning. It happened before church. Before I arrived at the auditorium and was handed the nametag. Hello my name is… It happened before the sermon when Pastor Greg talked about Identity and read the list of names, of who we are in Christ. Chosen. Adopted. Holy. Loved.
This happened earlier, before any of that.
I hadn’t slept well. A houseful of people the night before, celebrating Luke and Ali and their upcoming wedding. It was wild and fun and overwhelming, and I went to bed all wound up, and I couldn’t rest. When morning came I stayed in bed an extra hour, made my coffee extra strong, headed outside.
Beloved. It was less a word and more an impression. A memory, lingering, beneath conscious thought. I was too tired to think. I opened my Bible and started to read, the blessing of Word like the morning breeze, soft against soul. Too tired to do much more than sense it’s presence, it came again. Beloved. Rain fell lightly, mist cool beneath my cover. Another whisper. Ten.
I knew then, what it was, and why it was happening. Last night, late, the last guests said good-bye. I worked my way through stacks of dishes, remains of food. Wiped down counters, took out garbage, ran a quick vacuum across living room rug. Kissed my husband and patted the dog. Good-night to boys and to Ali, TVs still on. I’m ready for bed, but my brain is still busy, so I pick up my book. It’s nearly midnight, too late for reading, when I come to the chapter. Being the Beloved. The author tells her story, and she’s tired, too. She tells it like this.
I walked toward God with empty hands and heart… and for the first time I understood what I had always believed: that God loved me anyway. It was a message I had heard in churches all my life. But it had usually been followed by something – a but, an and, a so... In the mountains of Chiang Mai, I finally understood, both mentally and emotionally, the sentence didn’t need anything added. God loved me. Full stop.*
Now it’s Sunday morning. I’m at the end of a row filled with family, worshipping together. When was the last time? Luke is leading, Nils on electric. Ali sits next to Kyle, Jimmy’s Sidney is with us, too, and Felipe, next to Brian. And I’m still numb. Part sleep deprivation, part stunned.
Last week the Word was Greek. Pastor Greg was teaching then, too. Poiema. We are God’s handiwork. His poem. I wrote it down. I am His. Poetry. (Ephesians 2:10)
A week later Greg finishes the series, and I know exactly where this is going. The little sticky nametag tucked into my notes. My identity. My name. Greg gives us a list, but I don’t need it.
Ten. And I know what it means. A year or more of worrying over a number on a scale. Am I enough? A long season of knowing my limits, aware of my need. Is this who I am? Last week, exhausted and muddled, spent. And now this morning, sitting weary, on my porch. Nothing to offer but full surrender. And there. Unsolicited. Unexpected. He answers my question.
I take my pen and I write it. Ten.
Nothing else. God loves me. Full stop.
*Dangerous Territory by Amy Peterson