Pastor's Corner: You are beloved

 

February 15, 2019



One of my favorite books/movies that I have always returned to throughout various chapters of my life is “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. In the middle of personal crisis, she embarks on three different journeys in order to find herself. For the first few months, she eats her way through the local culture in Italy; then she goes to an Ashram in India to seek spiritual fulfillment; and finally she goes to Bali where she falls in love. During a scene while in India where she is struggling with giving up control, her new friend Richard says to her, “You have the capacity to someday love the whole world.”

I believe this is how God sees us — God entrusts us to care for and love all of God’s beloved creation. Rooted in God’s love for us, we have the capacity, and the responsibility, to share that love with the whole world.

This time of year, around Valentine’s Day, our culture is saturated with talk about love. There is a pressure to “show” or even “prove” our love for the ones we love by giving gifts, sending notes, professing love. Love can, if we are not careful, start to become a commodity itself, something that can be given or taken away depending on the circumstances. And this “conditional love” can make us feel alone, afraid, and sad.


In Scripture, Jesus boils down his commands to simply this: Love God and love others. And I would add a third one, too: Love yourself.

Love God

God is love. Be hopeful. God’s love will last forever. It is more abundant than you could ever comprehend. You do not deserve it or have to earn it — it is unconditional.

Jesus says to those who are broken and hurting, you are beloved; to those who doubting and questioning, you are beloved; to those who are seeking approval, you are beloved; to those who are run down and burnt out, you are beloved; to those who are suffering from mental illness and addiction, you are beloved; to those fighting for their lives against disease, you are beloved.

Love others

Be patient and kind to others. Speak the truth in love. Do not hold onto a grudge. Forgive. Do not be jealous or boast in yourself. Endure through the differences. Seek justice for all. Have empathy.

Author Brene Brown writes, “Empathy is communicating that incredibly healing message of ‘you are not alone.’” Be that voice to others who desperately need to hear it. You never know how it could change someone’s life.

Love yourself

Be patient and kind to yourself. Forgive. You are worthy just as you are. Do not give up on yourself. See yourself as God sees you.

If we do not put loving ourselves at the forefront of our existence, we will not likely have the capacity to fully love each other, and we will be tempted to let others treat us with less than the love we deserve.

Friends, you are loved and you are worthy. Thanks be to God.

——

The Rev. Maggie Lewis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Havre, and Chinook Presbyterian Church

 

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