Being God’s Beloved: Affirmations from A-Z


A – To be God’s beloved is to accept that the awesome God created me to be authentically me.

B – It’s to bravely bare my flaws, seeing that God makes me strong in my weaknesses.

C – As God’s beloved child, I courageous choose to see myself with the same love and compassion I give to others,

D – And I determinedly dare to defy the destructive labels that have been placed on me.

Instead I delight in the diversity of the Divine, taking pride in who he has made me to be.

E – When I look in the mirror, I can see my elegance for God has elevated me to the place of princess, to the realm of his royalty.

F – It’s because I have an audience with the King that I can face my fears, I do not live in bondage, but in freedom.

G – Through Christ, I’ve been granted a new life, and I choose to extend the same grace and generosity to myself which were first modelled by Him.

H – I don’t hold myself hostage to toxic thoughts of my past, instead I heal and in turn heal others.

I – I use my inquisitive and imagining spirit to innocently seek after that which God requires.

J – I jubilantly live into my quirks because in the joking there is joy.

K – The King kindly saw me shivering outside His palace. He welcomed me in, set a table before me, and we had a feast. It wasn’t so much in the delightful food, but it was in the soul connection that we bonded.

L – Through lovingkindness I am filled with God’s love to give to others.

M – I look at the magnificence of God’s multi-coloured and multicultural world and I see my place in it. I’m one of a multitude but I’m also my own.

N – No one gets to tell me who I am. Only God does.

O – There is no secret too outrageous, no deed too obnoxious, no thought too outlandish for me to talk to God about. He sees it all and yet has mercy and forgives.

P – To be God’s beloved is to find a deep inner peace and placidness in His presence,

Q – A quality quietness from the swirl of questions in my head.

R – Reassured even in rough waters that God has the strength and wants to pull me out of the deep

S – I sense His salvation, the sacred stops me from spiraling,

T – And instead calls me to trust, to truth, and to tranquility. In turbulent times, God’s timely presence is tangible to me.

U – I see myself as unique. A bearer of God’s Spirit, a tent in which He dwells. Therefore I care about my physical body.

V – God took me, a vagabond, and gave me victory, He saw my vulnerability, He saw that my life was exploding like a volcano, and He invited me into His vastness.

W – For a long time I held a warped view of who I was, but God has shown me I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I feel welcomed into His wide arms, seeking fully after Him is wondrous and worthwhile.

X – My relationship with God is more than just xenial*, it’s transparent, real, raw, and intimate. It didn’t come without a cost, though. I willingly had to surrender myself to God’s x-acto knife, allowing Him to cut out those parts full of rage, hatred, and disgust mostly towards myself.

Y – To continue being God’s beloved, is to constantly yield to the ways He wants to grow and shape me. I yearn for His courts for He has broken off the yoke that crushed me.

Z – God has filled me with a zestful zen. No more zig-zagging through the maze of life, no more zoning and zeroing out, but instead living each and every moment to its fullest potential.

*xenial – a friendly relationship between host and guest

A Modern Retelling of the Woman With the Issue of Blood (Luke 8:43-48)

Picture taken from: https://www.rickety.us/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Woman_with_an_issue_of_blood.jpg

Content: Harm Reduction/Addiction/Homelessness/Soul Sickness
Here’s a poem I wrote this morning, a modern take of the woman with the issue of blood. This woman has long since intrigued me especially after I suffered an unknown illness that robbed me of life and joy for a year (in my mid-twenties). After going to countless doctors with no answer, I related to this woman more and more. On my drive home from work last night, I thought about this woman in relation to the stigma and shame many people who are homeless and struggle with addictions suffer. I have been working through understanding harm reduction (something I admit to having quite a bit of bias about because I believe strongly in abstinence). However, as a true scholar, I have decided to spend the semester looking into it and trying to understand more about it. So in my wrestlings I came up with this piece:

SOUL SICKNESS IN THE SUBSTANCE SPHERE

Desperation. Frustration. Fear. Stigma.
I can imagine the pain of the woman with the issue of blood, because I see the same pain every day.
Walking down the streets, I notice,
There are so many homeless people, rough sleeping out in this cold,
And it makes me wonder, what happened?
Why is there still such poverty in such a rich country?
We could blame capitalism and consumerism, and they certainly play a part,
But there is a much deeper reason,
One that is not so easily answered or solved:
Trauma.
The woman with the issue of blood was an outcast,
She was ritually and ceremonially impure,
Surely God’s love couldn’t be for her.
She spent all she had not only trying to be healed from a physical ailment,
But also from the soul sickness of being ostracized.
Every penny in her jar steadily growing thin as she sought out the best of the best,
The most determined doctors, all the nicest nurses, the most superb surgeons, the most helpful healers,
As her penny jar dwindled so did her hope.
Her husband gave up on her,
She could no longer meet his needs as she lay writhing in pain upon her bed,
He tried to be sympathetic and understanding at first,
Tears welled in his eyes as he remembered the bride of his youth,
But eventually he came to the startling realization that woman was gone,
He twisted and pulled at his wedding band willing to take it off,
Gritting his teeth as he remembered the vow “In sickness and in health,”
Yet each time his ring got loose, he couldn’t will himself to throw his marriage away entirely.
Her children long since grown, had left home.
Her daughter would call from England sometimes to check in,
Her son unfortunately had chosen a different path,
One of addiction. He, too, was suffering.
He truly did care about his mother, he just lost the ability to show it.
Sometimes as the nameless woman wheeled her way into the hospital entrance,
She would see her son on the street corner with a sign in his hand asking for food,
And the woman’s heart was saddened because she knew that he, too,
Had a dwindling penny jar and had spent every last penny feeding his habit.
The woman longed to make him whole again,
But how could she when she was also broken?
The young man had tried everything he could to get clean.
The family had scraped together what little they had to put him through
Detoxes, counselling, and the most expensive of treatment facilities,
When that didn’t work, he ended up in hospitals, jails, and mental health homes,
And still he couldn’t stop.
The family tried to get him into 12 step recovery,
They brought him to church,
They told him about the love of the Jesus they had heard about and believed in.
The young man would stop at times,
But eventually his relapse would be even harder.
Finally, as the mother grew worse and worse,
As her sickness evaded her entire body and life,
Their attitude and actions had to shift to the one who
”Actually wanted to get well”
Which was sad because the young man so desperately also wanted to get well,
He just didn’t know it yet.
Would harm reduction be the answer for him?
His mom finally wondered during a long day as she lay in her hospital bed,
His mom had never considered it before, she was a firm believer in abstinence,
But she was wearing thin and as her own body deteriorated, so had her spirit,
Looking out the window, she saw a robin landing on a tree,
This small sign gave her hope.
Just then, a kindly man walked in.
He wasn’t wearing a doctor’s robe, and he looked like he was just an average man,
But what that man said to the woman that day gave her hope,
For the man told the woman there was another solution.
The woman was so weak she could barely speak,
All she could do was simply squeeze the man’s hand to let him know she was listening,
But as she lightly squeezed, power surged through her,
Energy coursing through her body.
Her eyes fluttered awake,
For the first time in days she sat upright and had a piece of toast,
And her bleeding stopped.
Her physical ailment left her, and more importantly her heart stopped bleeding,
Because she sensed that even in her worry her son would be ok.
That very day, she called around to shelters,
And in her travels she discovered an affordable housing option.
They didn’t do abstinence, they did harm reduction.
”Would it really work this time?”
The woman found herself doubting, but she fiercely pressed on,
She had been given new life and a second chance,
She loved her son more than anything and fearlessly dared to dream he could also be given a new life,
She called the place, they were happy to show her son around.
Her son has since moved in,
His progress has be slow, but it’s been steady.
He has the most wonderful laugh, his eyes light up as people started believing in him,
The last time she called,
Her son said he isn’t ready to kick his habit yet,
But he’s been slowly cutting back.
For the first time in years they had a 30 minute conversation
Where the mother didn’t worry about her son being in jail, in a hospital, or on the streets,
Instead they laughed, they cried, and before they hung up they promised to do it again real soon.
The mother still hopes her son will eventually give up his drugs,
She still longs to bring him home, hugging and kissing him as her baby,
But she also realizes that for now the little boy is a man
Who must fly solo.
She’s given him up to God,
And she hopes that one day he will also touch the hem of Christ’s garment
And be fully healed.

Jeremiah’s Call (Jeremiah 1:4-10) (Sermon From January 30, 2022)

Have you ever been assigned a task that you felt totally unprepared for?  You might have felt this sense of both dread and anticipation when you entered a university classroom for the first time, when you started a new job or took a leadership position at your work, when you got married, or when you gave birth to your first child.  It’s this sense of having a goal in mind, but also having no way to know exactly what that role entails until you try it out.

In today’s passage from Jeremiah 1, we meet a young prophet who not only was unprepared for what was to come, but also was given this opportunity without any warning.  Usually when we take on a big task we have time to think about it and get ourselves ready.  A woman carries a baby inside her for 9 months before giving birth, students study anywhere from 1 to 10 years at a college or university before receiving a job in their chosen field, a person generally courts a partner for a substantial amount of time before committing to them in an act of marriage, and a minister goes through a whole process to become ordained.  Yet, in Jeremiah’s case, the calling came upon him suddenly and fiercely.

God came to Jeremiah when he was still very young.  While there is no agreed upon age during the call, most commentators have settled on between the ages of 17-20 with some commentators suggesting as young as 10-12.  God comes to Jeremiah and tells him that he will be a mouthpiece for the Divine sharing the messages he has been given.  

Being a prophet was not an easy task back then, it often involved much hardship, ridicule, and scorn.  Jeremiah came from a family line of priests and he knew what was involved in ministry work.  It wasn’t just the daily grind of temple service that worried Jeremiah, though, Israel was also in a tumultuous time where there was hostility due to Israel being in exile.  In other words, it wasn’t just ministry, but ministry in an uncomfortable and unfamiliar place.

The way that Jeremiah saw himself and the way God saw him were total polar opposites of each other.  To Jeremiah he was ONLY a boy.  He focused on his own shortcomings, his own lack of ability and his own inexperience.  Yet, God looked at Jeremiah’s potential.  God used the word “sanctified” which was a holy and special word at the time and it showed how much weight God really had placed in Jeremiah.  God believed in the young prophet and he approved of him.  There are many incredible call stories of prophets in the Bible and many of them were uncomfortable and tried to flee from the calling, but Jeremiah’s story is unique because it showed how God had a plan on the young prophet even before he was born.  

We are all called by God to do something.  Some of us might be called to lead or start a ministry, some of us might be called to become ministers, lay leaders, or diaconal leaders within the church, we might be called to serve the homeless, to raise interest on environmental issues, or to write a book.  Yet, how easy is it for us to look at ourselves through a perfectionist lens, never truly satisfied with who we are?  How easy is it to look at the areas we don’t like about ourselves and to critique them rather than to accept the compliments we so frequently give to others – even complete strangers?

Humanity is good at making excuses.  We might think about going back to school and get excited about studying and pursuing a new career, then reality hits us and we start to think: I’m too old, I’m not good at math, I’m only the average person not someone extraordinary.  

Or we add the word JUST to our identity in the same way that Jeremiah did.  We say I’m JUST a kid, I’m JUST a single mother, I’m JUST someone with a learning disability, I’m JUST a B student.  We don’t realize that if we were to give God permission God could help us achieve far more than we could ever ask or imagine.  

It’s easy to get weighed down by the world and and its impossibilities, but when we allow God to choreograph our lives great things happen.  Jeremiah’s youth scared him.  He was no doubt afraid because he thought that as a young man people might not take him seriously or listen to him, yet imagine what would have happened if some of the greatest children we know decided not to speak up because they were afraid no one would care.  Greta Thunberg was only 15 years old when she boldly approached the Swedish Parliament demanding stronger action on climate change.  That was back in 2018, now 4 years later, she is an icon, an example to many young people, and has spoken around the world to major political leaders.  She could have said “no, I’m too young” but she knew that she had a message to share and she wasn’t afraid of it.

Historically, there were some great female reformers who shaped the world despite being young and the “wrong” gender at a time when men more or less ruled.  Joan of Arc was only 16 when she began her quest for freedom and by age 19 had already been martyred. Sophie Scholl was only 22 when she took a stance against Nazi Germany opposing their harmful ideologies at the risk of her own life and Samantha Smith was only 10 years old when she published a paper on why the relationship between the US and the Soviet Union were so tense.

I think as well of childhood heroes we know a little less about.  Iqbal Masih was less than 12 years old when he campaigned against child labour in Pakistan, Nkosi Johnson was only 8 when he started raising awareness of HIV/AIDS a disease he was born with, and Emma Gonzalez was less than 18 when she became an American activist for gun control after experiencing a violent school shooting in Florida.  

A quick Google search will bring up thousands of other examples of those who stood for change, activism, advocacy, and social justice despite factors which might have held them back.  Imagine if any of these people would have said “no I’m too young” or “I’m just a girl” or “No one will listen to me, I’m not a good public speaker” how much less rich our world would be today.  Our world becomes a better place exactly because of courage and bravery.  This is why Paul told his young charge Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:12, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.”

Usually when someone is ready to take on a new role or identity, something is given to them as a symbol.  For example, an engagement ring and later a wedding band is place on a person’s finger to show their new transition, a clergy collar or stole is given to a minister on their ordination, a black cap and an expensive piece of paper known as a degree is given to a student upon graduation, and a white lab coat is given to a doctor to signify that they have certain qualifications and credentials.  In Jeremiah’s case, it was a little less glamorous – he was given a piece of live coal which touched his lips and with this was told that he would now be God’s mouthpiece.  This is not the first time God or another angelic being has done this action for someone who otherwise feels unworthy.  We see the similar things done to Isaiah, Ezekiel, and John the Revelator on the Island of Patmos.  In our western culture this may seem rather odd, but in Ancient Israel such symbolism was not out of place for to them words were of utmost importance.  Greta Thunberg often criticizes global leaders for their “empty words” but to the Israelities words led to actions which in turn produced results and ultimately brought consequences sometimes good and others bad.  Words were about authorship and carried with them a sense of assurance, accountability, and authenticity.  And it was with these words and this action that Jeremiah was appointed.  

I wonder what holy mystery God might be calling us to?  What divine delight we might be invited into.  What magnificent mystery God will share with us in a quiet place only between us and the Spirit.  What vibrant vocation awaits us if we are open to receiving it?

As we conclude our meditation for this morning, I want to share with you something my chaplaincy supervisor said to me this past week.  In looking at my own unworthiness, my own flaws, and my own shortcomings, I began to feel down that I would never reach perfection.  My supervisor then gave me these words, “how can we honor God and still attempt to abolish parts of ourselves?  God’s creation?  How do we rather embrace, with compassion, all parts of ourselves, without judgment – rather with an attitude of wonder and a theology of mystery?”

I pray that we will take those words to heart.  That we will not see our disadvantages as weaknesses which must be abolished, but rather as invitations for us to offer grace to ourselves.  That we will see our flaws as areas where Christ can pour the most beauty into, and that we will see our ordinariness as an outlet for God to do extraordinary things.  May it be so.  Amen.