Listening to a podcast one morning, I hear the phrase . . . accept the Father’s acceptance of you. I froze. Replayed the phrase again . . . accept the Father’s acceptance of you. I finished “listening” to the podcast but truthfully, I heard nothing else. The phrase was swirling around in my head and would continue on for several days to come. I began to walk back and forth between the thoughts of accepting me and accepting my Father’s acceptance of me.
Accepting me would come with agreements or an attitude of ‘this is just the way I am. The way God made me.’ It would be a pose because underneath there would be a piece of me wishing I were just a little smarter, a little smaller, a little prettier, a little more confident. A piece of me wondering where I’m going wrong as a mom, as a wife, as a daughter, when I see others who appear to look awesome, act awesome, and talk awesome . . . because somehow everything is always awesome.
Accepting my Father’s acceptance of me would mean the attitude, the pose, would all be erased. The Father’s acceptance of me is not conditional on me having a little more of anything. It’s me today. It’s me yesterday. He loves me now. He loves my becoming. He loves His beloved. But . . . I have to make the choice to accept His acceptance of me. This is where I struggle. I need to shut down the small whispers that say I’m not enough. That say I need to get it together and expedite my becoming to be in a place worthy of receiving His acceptance.
A few weeks ago, I had the great privilege of serving at a women’s retreat in the majestic Colorado mountains . . . for the fourth time. A retreat I first attended in the spring of 2015. I share those details to say, I am and continue to be a work in progress. Sometimes I need to hear the truth multiple times, over an extended period of time, to get to a place where I am ready and open to hearing what my Father has for me. One particular session at this retreat is called the white stone session or as some like to call it, the new name session. It is a beautiful and touching message where I am taken from a place of being just another girl sitting in a seat, bouncing up and down, hoping to be called on. Hoping to be seen. And through the power of the Holy Spirit, I’m transported to a place of deep and powerful knowing by my Father. To a place of peace and tranquility where no one else is present in the room but me and my Father. And in that place, I receive a new name that is special and unique to me. But to get there, it takes a fight. It takes courage. Prior to this retreat, I had three white stones sitting on my dresser at home. But they were blank. Not because I hadn’t received a name but because I never wrote the name on my stone. So as I’m sitting in what was my fourth name session, I don’t hear a name. What I hear instead was a question from my Father.
Why haven’t you written your names on your stones?
I was busted. To write my name on a stone felt weird. It felt silly. It felt risky. To write my name on my stone meant that I was choosing to own the name . . . and I didn’t know if I believed my Father really meant what He said. Surely I had heard Him wrong. I allowed myself to sit with this revelation in my heart over the course of the night and into the next day. As the next session began on agreements, my Father tenderly met me in this space as He said to me my new name . . . True. Who I am is true. Who my Father says I am is true. And in that moment, I broke the agreement that the names my Father has given me were out of pity. That He was just being nice to me.
That afternoon, I walked up to a dear friend and shared what had occurred and asked if she could get me one of the gold pens used to write on the stones. She swiftly acquired one so I could follow through with what I was being asked to do . . . and then she sweetly told me to take the pen home and finish the job. After the weekend came to a close, I began to process all that had transpired. As I stood at my bathroom counter, I glanced over at the four rocks proudly displayed with my names . . . Joyful Surprise, Radiant Light, Freedom, True.
A moment later, I look in the mirror, smile and begin to laugh out loud. The light came on. How do I accept my Father’s acceptance of me? I believe that what He says of me is True. I accept who He says I am.
Becoming the Beloved means letting the truth of our belovedness become enfleshed in everything we think, say or do. Our lives are unique stones in the mosaic of human existence – priceless and irreplaceable.
Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen