By Marc Rademaker
Beloved: this is what we are to God. We are precious to Him always and no matter what. We’ve heard this time and time again, but that doesn’t make it any easier to internalize it. It can be difficult to truly believe that we are loved, beloved, by the Lord.
So how can I more easily believe that and bring it into my life?
I’m so glad you asked.
The simple answer to how we can recognize that we are beloved by God is to be loved by Him. Even if we are unconditionally loved by Him, sometimes we fail to allow ourselves to fully receive this love and to believe in how unbounded it is. It’s easy to get confused and befuddled and to be caught up in feelings that we are unworthy of this love. I find myself doubting this love in two main areas: when I experience failure and when I worry about the future.
Failure is inevitable and something that is ingrained in our humanness. And when I talk about failure here, I mean sin: the failure to choose the will of God. After we sin, Satan has this slimy way of giving us feelings of shame and a sense that we are nothing in the eyes of God – even if deep down we know this is a lie! So, if we know this is a lie and we still experience that sense of being unworthy of His love, what can we do to “feel” more deserving of love? You guessed it: Reconciliation. Making a regular Confession is one of the best ways to receive Christ’s love. What better way for Him to love us than by telling us we are totally forgiven of everything we’ve done wrong? And what better way for us to show our love to Him than by coming before Him wanting to change, allowing Him to see us at our most vulnerable? Because sin effectively wounds or breaks our relationship with God, repairing it through Reconciliation is what gives us in our humanity the ability to (literally) be one with God again and fully be loved.
Worrying about the future also plagues us all at one time or another. Especially for those students and young adults out there, we are constantly trying to figure out what we will be doing with our lives – and that can be scary. While it’s important to be prepared for our future, it can also often take us away from the present. How can we serve God through what we have planned in the future if we don’t allow ourselves to be loved in the present? One of the best ways to let yourself be loved right now is to be mindful. This means being aware of and acting on what is going on right now in the present. I think of the common saying: “Be where your feet are.” A few great ways of practicing mindfulness come to mind:
- Stop checking the time.
How often are we sitting in class, at home, or at work while we constantly check the time? It seems like we are always waiting for the next thing to come and then are unsatisfied when it *finally* does. Whether it be productivity, recreation, or anything in between, a lot of peace can come from looking away from the future and focusing on the present.
- Put away your phone.
How can we be where we are if we’re constantly looking at where others are?
- Sit in God’s presence.
Going to Adoration and sitting with God is one – if not the best – way to be mindful and present. This time is when the Lord can speak to you, and it can be one of the best times for Him to tell you how much He loves you! Contemplating whatever God places on our hearts in this time can allow Him to work in us and can give us deeper roots in His unconditional love.
Whether it be struggles with failure, worry, or anything else, it’s hard as humans to allow ourselves to simply be loved by God. I think one of the biggest blockades to this acceptance is that we feel the need to prove ourselves worthy of this love by doing things for Him. But as He tries to show us, all we need to do is open our hearts to Him and receive this love that He wants to give us. That is, after all, why we are created: to share in this great love that He has for us.
To be loved.