I picked up a book at the library sale with a great title, The Gift of Being Yourself. There are some great parts in it and many I don't agree with, but I thought I'd share this segment that I have particularly loved.
Knowing Yourself As Deeply Loved
Excerpts From The Gift of Being Yourself by David G. Benner
The question is how does God feel about you? What is God's knowing of you?
One young woman told me she feels afraid because she is sure God is mad at her. She thinks God is preoccupied with her sins and shortcomings and views her with anger and reproach. Is she right?
I also think of a friend who can no longer believe that God takes a personal interest in humans. As one among billions of people on the face of the earth, he suspects that he and the rest of us fail to register as individuals on God's consciousness. He tells me that he wishes he could believe God loves him, but he cannot be persuaded that it is possible. Is he right?
I am convinced that God loves each and every one of us with depth, persistence and intensity beyond imagination. God doesn't simply like you. Nor does God simply have a warm sentimental feelings toward you just because you were created in the Divine image. The truth is that God loves you with what Hannah Hurnard calls a "passionate absorbed interest." God cannot help seeing you through the eyes of Love.
Even more remarkable, God's love for you has nothing to do with your behavior. Neither your faithfulness nor your unfaithfulness alters Divine Love in the slightest degree. Like the father's love in the parable of the prodigal son, Divine Love is absolutely unconditional, unlimited and unimaginably extravagant.
Christians affirm a foundation of identity that is absolutely unique in the marketplace of spiritualities. Whether we realize it or not, our being is grounded in God's love. The generative love of God was our origin. The embracing love of God sustains our existence. The inextinguishable love of God is the only hope for our fulfillment. Love is our identity and our calling, for we are children of Love. Created from love, of love and for love, our existence makes no sense apart from Divine love.
Neither knowing God nor knowing self can progress very far unless it begins with a knowledge of how deeply we are loved by God. Until we dare to believe that nothing can separate us from God's love - nothing that we could do or fail to do, nor anything that could be done by anyone else to us (Romans 8:31-39) - we remain in the elementary grades of the school of Christian spiritual transformation.
In order for our knowing of God's love to be truly transformational, it must become the basis of our identity. Our identity is who we experience ourselves to be - the I each of us carries within. An identity grounded in God would mean that when we think of who we are, the first thing that would come to mind is our status as someone who is deeply loved by God.
Coming to know and trust God's love is a lifelong process. Making this knowledge the foundation of our identity - or better, allowing our identity to be re-formed around this most basic fact of our existence - will also never happen instantly. Both lie at the core of the spiritual transformation that is in the intended outcome of Christ-following.
Every time I dare to meet God in the vulnerability of my sin and shame, this knowing is strengthened. Every time I fall back into a self-improvement mode and try to bring God my best self, it is weakened. I only know Divine unconditional, radical and reckless love for me when I dare to approach God just as I am.
The more I have the courage to meet God in this place of weakness, the more I will know myself to be truly and deeply loved by God. And the more deeply I know this love, the easier it ill be to trust it as Christ did - preferring God's will to my own.
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