Our lives as Fellows are busy. If we have a free moment, we find it easily taken by spending time with friends or catching up on sleep. In this busier season of my life, I think back on an article we read at our opening retreat.
Henri Nouwen wrote an article entitled “Moving from Solitude to Community to Ministry” and this concept quickly became one of the bricks in my foundation to complete this year. He writes about how Jesus moved into his ministry. Before ever joining his disciples, Jesus spent significant time alone with God. He then would join his disciples and together they would carry out their ministry. Nouwen explains the ideas of solitude, community, and ministry more in detail, but it’s the idea of solitude that grounds the other two and the one I am most learning about this year. Nouwen writes that it’s in the place of solitude with God that we hear our real name and find our true identity. In this place can we begin to live into the other places life takes us.
“Who am I? I am the beloved. That's the voice Jesus heard when he came out of the Jordan River: 'You are my beloved; on you my favor rests.' And Jesus says to you and to me that we are loved as he is loved. That same voice is there for you. When you are not claiming that voice, you cannot walk freely in this world.“
This year has been full of many different commitments, relationships and situations that require all of me. If I haven’t heard my true name of Beloved from my Creator, then I will demand affirmation in all of these avenues. My heart will be, as Nouwen writes, like “a banana tree filled with monkeys jumping up and down”. These next words put in perspective where my love and belovedness come from.
“If you keep that in mind, you can deal with an enormous amount of success as well as an enormous amount of failure without losing your identity, because your identity is that you are the beloved. Long before your father and mother, your brothers and sisters, your teachers, your church, or any people touched you in a loving as well as in a wounding way—long before you were rejected by some person or praised by somebody else—that voice has been there always. 'I have loved you with an everlasting love.' That love is there before you were born and will be there after you die.”
In my work placement, this can be very hard. Without knowing my value as the beloved I will overly rejoice in my achievements or begin to feel worthless in the bad things I’ve done. In my relationships with the other Fellows or my D-group girls, I will demand love and affection from them that is not theirs to rightly give me. I will give them power to fulfill me by every word or action they take. Not knowing my value in my host home placement looks like me listening to the lies that I am only valued by my contributions to the home. Living according to the circumstances around has left me feeling like a sailboat being tossed at sea and left me panting for me.
My life will always be busy no matter how I choose to spend it, but it will be worth it only when I’m free from it. This freedom comes in resting in my belovedness that comes from Christ.
“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:4