Have you experienced a person who is completely confident but also paradoxically humble? As though someone freed them up from the chains of insecurity and self-doubt? And as you sit there scratching your head, you may also wonder why they don’t have anything to prove.
Here’s what I think happened, at least in part. They're sold on the idea that no permission is needed to claim their identity as fully loved, valuable, and worthy.
Most likely what you're seeing is the fruit of their journey to rest in their truest identity, or as Henri Nouwen would describe it, "being the Beloved." This essential piece of our soul is given to us by God himself when he called us image bearers. We see more evidence of God's love for us in his willingness to send his very own son to rescue us. Nouwen goes on to discuss it this way:
"From the moment we claim the truth of being the Beloved, we are faced with the call to become who we are. Becoming the Beloved is the great spiritual journey we have to make “ (37).
People who own their identity as the Beloved also know they have permission to be authentic. So often because we believe we need to earn our worthiness or value, we hustle to receive permission from others that we are, indeed, okay.
This may be one of the greatest misnomers we experience, believing we must wait to live into our identity. Or worse yet, that we somehow need permission to embody our actual identity.
But it’s rare for someone to articulate that we're fully loved and known, isn’t it? Occasionally, you may experience a rare gem who speaks those words of life into people, but it’s not common. Not because people don’t care, but because they don’t know what’s in your heart. They aren’t familiar with your wounding. They’re not the ones called to your exact life or vocation. They don’t have your story, skill set, or values so they can’t give it to you.
I find though, to the extent we believe we are the Beloved, we're also willing to risk in the most important areas of life. Why is this? When our value no longer rests on achievement, we are free to risk big no matter the outcome.
At some point we all either make the call, study for the test, write the book, or paint the picture or we don’t. At some point, we stare down the barrel of the thing we were created for and take the risks or we don’t.
But here’s the good news: even if every single thing in your life fails miserably, you are still the Beloved. Even if you don't ever take the risk at all, you are still the Beloved. Even if you don't think you are good enough, or smart enough, or capable enough-- yep, still the Beloved. You can’t lose this, dear reader. You cannot lose your identity as valuable and loved—no matter what.
Does this mean we stay stuck and never risk? Sometimes. But it is precisely because of our truest identity as secure and loved that we can find the courage to grow.
I wonder what it would mean for your life, what changes you would make, if you knew you were totally and fully loved?
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39, NIV)
Nouwen, Henri. Life of the Beloved. New York: Crossroad, 1998. 25-38. Print.