The address stands alone on the first line of Sunday’s reading from 2 Timothy 1.
It needs no qualifier, no explanation, no direction. It simply addresses the reader as the reader is: Beloved.
Yet for those who have had their hearts broken, the word Beloved, can be something of an enigma. Love, we’ve learned, cannot be counted on. Love does not last. Love is not true.
Or maybe it is not love that is unreal. Maybe it is we who are unlovable.
After all, the one person we counted on, the one person with whom we exchanged a sacred vow, the one person promising for better or worse, in sickness and health, and till death do us part, has told us in no uncertain terms there is nothing in us to love.
This doubt of love and of ourselves as lovable is the secret hidden wound of betrayal. It is the unconscious thought that swirls in our heads when we are alone in the dark. It is the unseen force that makes breathing difficult after a carelessly tossed comment cuts the wrong way. It is the unexpected blow that, after thinking we were finally on the right track, knocks us to the bathroom floor in a sobbing pile of mess.
Harsh words of rejection and worthlessness hurled upon us crush the heart and damage the soul. It is no wonder a simple word, Beloved, can be so puzzling, so foreign, so unreal.
And yet, the address is there. Plain as day. Paul to Timothy and through Timothy to you. God’s Word, which does not lie.
Beloved, you are.
The question is, how do you recognize your Belovedness? How do you live a Beloved life? What does it meant to be Beloved?
Begin Reframing Your Understanding of Love
We hear it all the time: love is love.
The definition negates first grade vocabulary lessons. A word cannot be used to define itself. It is like saying apple is apple or car is car. It renders the definition meaningless even for simple items. Tell someone the apple is sweet or the car is fast and we begin to understand.
Love, albeit more simple and more complex than apples and cars, is no different in its need to be defined by something other than itself to be meaningful. To simply say love is love strips away our understanding of the power of Love. It confuses and mismanages a concept far greater than human minds could have conceived and so we fail to understand what Love truly is.
Love is Divine. Love is Sacrifice. Love is Joy. Love is Glorious. Love is Mercy. Love is Sacred.
These give a clearer picture of Love. To get the clearest picture of Love we study the fact that Love is God and God is Love. He is all these things rolled into one and more. Removing God from our understanding of Love, limits our understanding of both Love and God and taints our ability to understand ourselves as Beloved.
Love, in its purest form, is not about any person receiving an emotion. Love is about the one delivering Good. Love is about accessing the Holy Spirit within oneself to fulfill a divine promise. Love is about choosing to see beyond the surface to the created dignity inherent in each one of us as children of the Creator. Love bestowed is the eternal power of Grace working beyond our abilities. As such, Love is always gifted to one unworthy of Love.
When another labels you as anything less than Beloved, it is not a reflection of your worth. Your worth cannot be changed. You were uniquely created to know, love, and serve God and remain joyfully with Him for eternity. No human has the power to change your worth. What can be changed is the perception of your worth to yourself and others; only you can allow that change.
Though many may try, do not permit anyone to change perception of your worth.
Remember, Beloved, You Are.
Those who deny your Belovedness reflect only their own brokenness. We are told to love even our enemies for if we do not, we are no better than tax collectors who love those who love them. We also know God never tells us to do anything we are incapable of. Considering this, we know we are capable of loving. When one feigns an incapacity to love you, the weakness is a reflection on that individual not on you.
Of course, we must look at the planks in our eyes and work to remove them so we can be the most lovable person we can be, but we often mistake what this means. We often think being lovable means doing everything for everyone. We think it means proving our worth by replacing a broken relationship with a compromised relationship. We think it means we should be Blessed with whatever bright, shiny object is dangled before society in any given moment.
True Belovedness is very different though.
True Belovedness comes with saying no to the noise and yes to alone time. Belovedness means seeking peace and gratitude rather than false gods. It means understanding that Love lives within each of us and we are free to give or withhold it at will. It means replacing the world’s ideas of relationship with a relationship with the One who is Love first.
Beloved, you are. Not because of anything you have done, are, or hope to be. Beloved you are because of the one who Loves you. The one who created you, who knows you better than you know yourself. The God who sees your mistakes, knows every shortcoming, hears every secret conversation you have in your own head, Loves you for you.
The One who Is Love has your back. He guards your way. Nothing you ever do can change His adoration for you because of who He is; He is Love and you are His Beloved.
He wants you to call Him Beloved in return.
2 Timothy tells us:
Beloved:I remind you, to stir into flame
the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.
For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice
but rather of power and love and self-control.
So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord,
nor of me, a prisoner for his sake;
but bear your share of hardship for the gospel
with the strength that comes from God.Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me,
in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit
that dwells within us.
If you struggle with understanding your own Belovedness, consider that the questioning itself proves you want to believe. That desire is a spark you have been given. Let that spark introduce you to the very tip of the inferno of Love that shows how beloved you are. Then do something with that spark. Try something new. Take a risk. Become who you are meant to be. Stir your spark into flame. Let your struggles fan the flame knowing nothing will diminish your worth.
Grow in understanding of your own Belovedness by honoring the Almighty through the love you show Him too. Embrace the courageous spirit Belovedness gives by taking risks, loving continually, forgiving freely, offering mercy, laughing joyfully, and honoring your testimony.
Part of your testimony will be this struggle to feel Beloved. It is an isolating struggle many wrap their hearts around, but you can break free from. It is a struggle God allows you to have so you detach from the world’s definition of Love and self esteem and begin to see the Love and value He pours into you. This Love can be your testimony when you choose to see Love is God and God is Love and you are His Beloved.
2 Timothy also says we are not to be ashamed of our testimonies. To have a powerful testimony we must move beyond the self-preservation stage and embrace that we are created for more, not because of who we are but because of The One who makes us in His image, the image of Love itself.
We receive our testimony only when we combat our demons. We do not honor our testimonies by ignoring, running from, or beating our pasts but by being grateful for the Love we have received in them. We only do that by embracing the fact that we are chosen. We are Beloved.
You have been given a rich trust, the trust of the Beloved. Go forth. Honor your testimony by living the courageous life of the Beloved and encourage others by sharing your belief in their Belovedness too.
As I am trying to build this outreach, please help me spread the word of God’s Love and the power He gives us in our struggle. Please subscribe, like, and share my work. Thank you so much!
If you would like to contact me, please email me at KerriBishop@LiveNotOrdinary.com