Last Tuesday I sat down to my journal to determine my Lenten discipline. After reviewing previous journal entries I knew I wanted to focus on health and wellness. This was not about losing weight or giving up chocolate, though both would probably be good for me. I was looking at it in broader terms, thinking about how my health and general wellness affect my ability to serve as a faithful disciple. However, my journal also reminded me of my 2015 star word: simplicity. Lent would be a perfect time to continue to explore what that word means for me. I began to wonder how I could pair my desire for wellness with my goal of simplicity.
The next day, Ash Wednesday, I woke up to find this The Upper Room Daily Reflection waiting for me in my inbox:
SELF-REJECTION IS THE GREATEST ENEMY of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved.” Being the Beloved expresses the core truth of our existence. – Henri J. M. Nouwen, in Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World
I realized I had just been given my Lenten practice: to learn to be the Beloved. And it was the perfect marriage of wellness and simplicity. As I wrote before, simplicity is about focusing on God and everything that leads to God, letting all else fall by the wayside. And here was Henri reminding me that if I can learn to be the “Beloved,” I will be expressing, acknowledging, bringing to life, the core truth of my existence: that God loves me enough to create me in God’s image and call me “Beloved.”
And yet, how often I forget that. How often I reject myself by choosing not to take care of myself, making my health and wellness a very low priority, criticizing myself, focusing on everyone else’s needs and sacrificing my own. Turns out, these are all forms of self-rejection, ways of denying my “Beloved-ness.” When that happens, I lose my ability to be a faithful disciple.
Thus, my Lenten practice is learning to be “Beloved;” to accept this gift with deep gratitude and find new ways each day to live into it. Right now, I’m not exactly sure what that will look like.
Many of you have chosen a Lenten practice, whether it’s giving up something or taking on a new discipline. These are all ways for you to become better disciples of Jesus Christ, The True Beloved. And ways for you to live into your own “Beloved-ness.”
Cross: God of Love,
Invitatory Bead: who proclaimed Jesus Christ to be
Resurrection Bead: your Beloved Son, with whom you are well-pleased,
First Cruciform Bead: Remind us that we, too, are your Beloved.
First Set of Week Beads: use each bead to hear that you are God’s Beloved son or daughter.
Second Cruciform Bead: Help us to confess how we have rejected our Beloved-ness.
Second Set of Week Beads: use each bead to confess the ways in which you reject yourself and your Beloved-ness.
Third Cruciform Bead: Open our hearts to accept and feel our Beloved-ness.
Third Set of Week Beads: use each bead to feel what it means to be God’s Beloved son or daughter.
Fourth Cruciform Bead: Guide us in identifying ways in which we can live out our Beloved-ness.
Fourth Set of Week Beads: use each bead to listen for ways in which you can live each day as God’s Beloved son or daughter.
Resurrection Bead: In the name of your Son, Jesus Christ,
Invitatory Bead: our example for what it means to live as the Beloved,