Owning Who I Am – God’s Beloved

Today on Facebook I ran across this quote:

“May today there be peace within. 
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. 
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. 
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. 
May you be content knowing you are a child of God. 
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. 
It is there for each and every one of us.”

The authorship of this quote is questionable.  It has been attributed to each of the Theresa/Teresa trio of saints – Theresa of Lisieux, Teresa of Avila, and Mother Theresa of Calcutta – but many suspect it in fact wasn’t written by any of them and was actually written by persons unknown in the 1970’s.

Regardless of who wrote it, these beautiful words fill me with hope and courage to spread my wings and soar!   It also has me thinking about who I am in God and am I using the gifts I been given to live out God’s call in my life?  I mean, really truly use them to the best of my abilities?

Do I own who I am as God’s Beloved?

One of the recurring themes resonating with me in a lot of what I have been reading lately is that I am called by God.  As such I should live out HIS calling for my life, not what other PEOPLE’s expectations say I should be (based on societal or cultural norms).  I don’t and shouldn’t be hiding my light under a bucket, so to speak, in order to appease the comfort of others.

I think this is something that I truly struggle with.  It’s like I’ve been conditioned to champion those around me without really realizing what my own worth is or that I have something valuable to contribute.  Maybe all the comments over the years about not having a bachelor’s degree have really left me thinking of my talents as not enough.

Sometimes my gender has caused comments to be made about what I should or shouldn’t be doing, or where I “fit” into things.  These have also left a mark on me because I think a lot of times it is in our female nature to want to nurture and promote others around us, even at the expense of ourselves.

But in the wake of realizing, yet again, I am more than just what a piece of paper or my peers might say about me, I am going to now name what I am as a reminder to myself that God has been very gracious to me and has blessed me with many gifts.  Own who I am as God’s beloved, so to speak, in no particular order:

  • I am intelligent and actually quite educated.  Although the only degree I have says “Associate’s” I have an incredibly curious nature that has lead me to serious study of many different things as well as I have earned almost three quarters of a Bachelor’s degree in Business(Accounting).
  • I am a disciple – I am hungry for God and have a lifelong thirst to seek his ways to become more like Jesus in my daily life.  The C.S. Lewis Institute was, and continues to be a great guide in helping seek paths of continued growth in my spiritual life as I engage with Scripture and draw ever closer in relationship with God the Father.
  • I am a leader – both at work and at church, I have been blessed to serve as a leader in many different ways.  There is a quote that hangs in my office by Sheryl Sandberg that says, “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.”  I agree with that whole heartedly and try to live that out with my staff.
  • I am kind hearted – Too much so at times.  I go out of my way to try to help others.  I can’t stand to see the commercials on tv that have starving children or caged, sad animals.  I am a people pleaser with a servants heart.
  • I am an accountant – no degree, but with seventeen years of full time experience in this field, it is safe to say that I am accomplished and competent in this area.
  • I am a singer – I LOVE to sing.  It can be in the shower, around the house, or in the car.  I also sing with our church’s praise team.  In high school I was in choir, musicals, and sang the National Anthem at some of the football games.
  • I am a writer – I have written for this blog, and I have written a few sermons.  I love expressing my thoughts on paper and wish I had the time to do that more often.  While I don’t have a following, my pieces have been picked up by a few outlets over the years.  I would love to someday write a book, if I could just figure out what I need to be writing about!
  • I am a student of theology – born and raised Catholic, but converted as an adult to Mennonite, I love studying the bible, biblical events, historical church history, specific denominational beliefs, the wider church as a whole and the early church.  All of it.  I can’t get enough of it.  I love to see how God weaves things together and specifically how women have fit into his plans.
  • I am creative – well there are the whole singing and writing things, but I also love to knit, crochet, do needlepoint, and pretend that someday I will scrapbook.  When my son was younger I enjoyed making his birthday cakes and valentine’s day boxes.
  • I am a teacher– Both at work and at times at church.  I love digging into material and then helping others to learn it as well.  I have never been the type to hoard information to myself.   I love sharing!

I have never been comfortable talking about myself in these kinds of terms and often downplay myself or my different roles.  So this is reaffirming to myself that I am already ENOUGH exactly as I am if I take the time to remember this.

There isn’t anything that I need to prove, nothing that I need to earn before I can be taken seriously.  This also isn’t all that I am.  God has blessed each of us in more ways than we can ever list completely.

We all have our labels that we go through life with.  I am a wife, a mother, an accounting manager, a praise team leader, etc.  However, I am so much more than these labels.

I am God’s beloved.

And so are you.

Rachel Held Evans – Remembering a Mentor and Friend who Never Knew Me

Tears of grief are running down my checks.

Tears of sadness and anger as well.

Disbelief. I feel disbelief and also like someone has knocked all of the wind out of me. Moments ago I read with incredible sadness that Rachel Held Evans has passed away.

She never met me, but I feel as though I knew this incredibly gifted lady personally. I had hoped to attend and meet her at a conference, in the somewhere distant future of tomorrow, but now that will never be.

Like so many others who have been touched by Rachel, I have spent the last several days praying for Rachel, waiting with anguish for the next health update, hoping the next one would bring good news of healing and mending. I have seen the outpouring of support for her, her family and her friends. I have contributed to the GoFund me page, which in itself is a testament to how many people Rachel reached with how quickly funds were raised.

We have lost a true believer, a fierce encourager, and a lovingly funny friend.

Because of Rachel, I found within myself that it was okay to question who I was and who God has made me to be. Through her writings, I found the courage to engage with religion and theology and to ask the questions about both as well as who God is and to ask the difficult questions to find out about what I believe.

Because of Rachel, I found a voice of my own and was able to preach to our congregation several times. Something that I never would have been able to do prior to this dear friend’s encouragement and understanding that I found in her writings.

Because of Rachel, I found the inspiration to strike out and write a blog of my own. Admittedly, this little blog is oftentimes neglected of late, but I still have hopes of being able to write more often. I always secretly wished in my heart of hearts that maybe one day Rachel would see one of my posts and hit the like button! And now more than ever, I want to bring the hope and love to others that I personally experienced with Rachel and her gifts with words and writing.

My heart is beyond broken for her husband and her two small, precious children who are now without the fierce love and protection of their mother. I can not even begin to imagine the pain and incredible strength and support it is going to take this dear little family to continue on without the earthly presence of their lioness mama there to encourage and care for them.

I am ANGRY. Creator God, why? Why could you not spare our dear sister Rachel to be here on this earth with us for more years? We can not comprehend God’s timing here.

I think of those who worked closely with her, Sarah Bessey and Nadia Bolz-Weber to name just two, and grieve for their aching loss as well. These women have also been an inspiration to me, but I don’t know that I would have ever found them if it hadn’t been for Rachel.

Rachel, eshet chayil! Thank you for helping me find within myself a woman of valor. Your example of strength and humor live on in your writings. Thank you for this precious gift. It is my hope that someday I can help carry on the work that you have begun here on earth. Writing, preaching and teaching to inspire other women to seek and live out who God is calling each of them to be.

You helped so many in your short time here. Fighting for those that can’t fight for themselves. Seeking justice and reconciliation for all.

Rest easy, my sweet friend and beloved mentor! Your work here is done.

Eternal rest grant to her, O Lord; and let light perpetual shine upon Rachel. May her soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.