I spent the past weekend at a retreat for women called ‘Beloved’. It happens twice a year at the Sion Community in Brentwood, and although I can’t say any more about it so as not to ruin it for any future attendees, I can STRONGLY recommend it. If it was up to me, every woman would have the chance to experience such an incredible encounter with Jesus! Over the course of the retreat I came to realise something so important, and it’s really on my heart to share it with you. I pray that what you read will be a blessing to you, and that those of you who can relate to it will find freedom in the revelation…
For several years as a teenager, amidst a lethal combination of anorexia and depression, I self-harmed. Twice I wrote (or rather cut) the word ‘FAT’ into myself. In doing so, I physically branded myself with the identity that I saw whenever I looked in the mirror. The identity that my warped perception convinced me was reality. Yet now, by the grace of God alone, I don’t have a single scar, no matter how deep the scissors went into my skin.
What I realised over the weekend was that this is no fluke occurrence. God removed the label I had given myself and replaced it with my true identity as His beloved daughter, and His Son’s beloved bride. He wiped away the lies I had been brainwashed into believing, and in their place poured out His unending stream of affirmation and adoration. ‘You are altogether beautiful my love, there is no flaw in you’ (Song of Songs 4:7). NO flaw… Not a single scar.
“What a ravishing young woman!”
A lovely lady paid me a lovely compliment. I laughed awkwardly. Then I was reminded of Fran’s beautiful post explaining that compliments stem from God’s own selfless love, and suddenly I was able to see those words as what they truly reflected: GOD’s view of me! In fact, he’s even told me that himself: ‘You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride’ (Song of Songs 4:9). He’s telling YOU the same thing, if only you could break free of the sound-proof box you’re imprisoned in – the affliction that all women suffer from to some extent – and listen. We are the creation of an infallible God. He doesn’t make mistakes, and His view of us is never wrong.
Somewhere along the way, from the fall of Eve to the 21st Century, we have lost sight of what it truly means to be a woman, and have suffered deeply as a result. We struggle to see ourselves as the beautiful people God created us to be (or we don’t allow ourselves to). When did ‘she loves herself’ stop being an acknowledgement of a close relationship with God and start being a criticism?
We are so intensely fearful of being seen as self-righteous or arrogant that we go so far the other way that we end up out of touch with reality and vulnerable to deep-rooted false beliefs about ourselves. We are happier to believe the lies and degradation thrown at us like lumps of mud than risk being rejected by the world if we step out into the light of Christ and embrace our glorious femininity. I hope and pray that you will join me in determining that THAT STOPS TODAY!
Our TRUE identity is not the one which is forced on us by the culture we live in, or even the one placed on us by our own insecurity, it is the identity given to us in the beginning by our loving Father. The same Father whose heart overflows with unbridled love and passion at the mere thought of us. At the mere thought of YOU. How much more fulfilling could our lives be if only we could allow ourselves to receive just a fraction of that love, and believe just a sentence of His description of us?
‘I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.’ (Song of Songs 6:3)
And so today I challenge you to be brave enough to listen to the affirmation God is offering you personally. Close your eyes, and let yourself really hear the voice of Jesus telling you:
You are my BELOVED.
You are MY beloved.
You ARE my beloved.
YOU are my beloved.