Return to Belovedness

liquified effect over picture of dark sky and ocean with birds flying upWe are intimately loved long before our parents, teachers, spouses, children and friends loved or wounded us.—Henri Nouwen, Life of the Beloved

I’m rereading Nouwen’s Life of the Beloved as I finish writing a book about healing. I came back to his book because I have come to believe that the ultimate healing we need is only available through the power of love. Yes, medications and surgeries and therapist visits are all a part of healing for many people. Yes, prayer and spiritual practices and exercise and self-care are a part of healing for many people. But at the bottom of it all, at the beginning and the end, at the center—we need to believe and experience our belovedness. And Nouwen articulates this simple and profound truth better than anyone else I know.

The love of God formed us. The love of God established us. This love is not the same as human love. It is always faithful. Always hopeful. Always patient. Always kind. Never giving up. (See 1 Corinthians 13 on this point.)

God’s love is not conditional on our behavior. Not conditional upon performance. Not conditional upon beauty or morality or success. 

And God’s love is more powerful than pain. More powerful than shame. More powerful, and more gentle, than the words or actions of the people around us. More powerful, and more gentle, than our thoughts about ourselves.

Our call as humans is to return to belovedness.


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