College was strange.
It is the only time in your life where you are placed in a community of people who are the same age as you for an extended period of time. You get to live life with other humans who have a similar purpose, but come from vastly different backgrounds.
My first apartment was strange. I was so used to walking across the hall for something. I had to plan to hang out with people whereas in college, they were just there.
Henry Nouwen writes, “Community is not an organization; community is a way of living; you gather around you people with whom you want to proclaim the truth that we are beloved sons and daughters of God.“
Living in a community allows us to call out in each other the aspects of God that we find in each other. The thing about living community like this, it that we first have to is to recognize in our belovedness. Nouwen shares that ministry starts “because your freedom is anchored in claiming your belovedness”.
My freedom lies in believing that I am beloved.
I remember one time, as an RA, we were asked to spend some time in solitude. It was an amazing experience because I was able to sit, just me and God, after the craziness of training. We were given this article called “Moving From Solitude To Community To Ministry” by Henry Nouwen. The article reaffirmed the vast majority of what God had been teaching me this summer.
I sat there in solitude, simply dwelling in the silence and being with God and God alone. It was important for me to sit still and listen to the voice of the one who calls me beloved.
God calls me beloved.
The more that I dwelled with that phrase, God began to speak to the corners of my heart, the center of my being, and slowly I began to accept his love for me. I sat on the edge of a pond where a gaggle of geese were relaxing. I began to watch and study the geese. A group of them flew to the opposite side of the lake to feed.
I watched as a clear leader stepped out of the water.
He took one timid step, intently watching his surroundings.
He stretched his leg out as he took another timid step.
He was constantly on guard and he took small steps forward.
Sometimes I feel like that goose. I know what God is asking us to do or accept, but I timidly step forward. Kind of like this idea of being His beloved. I step forward timidly believing that I am loved, but constantly looking for the other foot to drop. It sounds crazy because you would think that being loved would be an easy thing to accept. Meanwhile, God had become so vulnerable in his pursuit of us. He became so little, so dependent in a manger and on a cross and is begging me, “Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you really love me.” How crazy is that? The God of the universe loves me.
It is a gift freely offered by the creator of the universe.
As a result, I am more prepared to do and capable of loving others when I accept that the King of the World and Creator of the Universe loves me.
The aspect of community changes when you don’t live in the dorms anymore. I have to be more intentional about seeking out people to do life with. I am beginning a new journey.
One that reflects my belovedness.
Tenth Avenue North wraps this idea up well in their song “Beloved”.
You’re my beloved lover
Death shall not part us
It’s you I died for
For better or worse
Forever we’ll be
My love it unites us and it binds you to me
It’s a mystery
I am choosing to walk in the freedom of accepting that God desires me to be exactly the way he created me. He chose me to play in his story of redemption. I have a purpose in his plan. I desire to choose to live in the freedom of God. The freedom that doesn’t worry about what other people think of me.
The freedom that accepts myself for who I am—crazy, beautiful, smart, and weird.
The freedom that steps out of my comfort zone. The freedom that loves God with abandon.
The freedom that crosses oceans and roads to share the gospel.
I want to choose in to God’s desire to change the world. I want to choose in to loving people without judgement. I do not know what God has planned for this year, but I know that his plans are better thqan my plans.