"The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved"
I enjoy a good mystery story. I like seeing how characters go about solving a problem as well as trying to figure it out myself. Most detectives use a common practice - go back to the beginning. Where did it all begin?
I was reminded of another kind of going back to the beginning after going shopping for a baby gift this past weekend. It was fun to see all the baby things. As we walked around the store, I noticed a picture frame flanked with some word art saying: sleep, eat, be cute, repeat. It made me smile.
You know, there is more to that saying than meets the eye. It’s after taking care of the important things - sleeping and eating - that babies are cute. Being cute is who they are and they are their best selves - the cutest - when they are well cared for. When life comes at you with a problem or you find yourself in a time of suffering, it’s so important to take care of yourself - you need to sleep and eat.
The other thing that the picture frame reminded me of is the importance of knowing who you are. Chances are you have moved beyond cute. Do you know who you are? You may need to go back to the beginning to comprehend it fully.
Theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar explains:
“After a mother has smiled at her child for many days and weeks, she finally receives her child’s smile in response. She has awakened love in the heart of her child. God interprets himself to man as love in the same way; he radiates love, which kindles the light of love in the heart of man, and it is precisely this light that allows man to perceive this, the absolute Love. Insofar as we are his creatures, the seed of love lies dormant in us as the image of God (imago). But just as no child can be awakened to love without being loved, so too no human heart can come to an understanding of God without the free gift of his grace - in the image of his Son.”
We are made to be loved and to love. As a mother looks on her baby in love, so God looks on us in love. Just as a mother loves a baby even before the baby can love her back, so God loves us. God has loved us from the very beginning.
Jesus tells us that we can call God our Father. We are his children. We also know how God the Father sees his son, Jesus. We find out that at his baptism, heaven opened and a voice said, “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.” As God’s children, this is how he feels about us as well. We are loved by God as we are. We are God’s chosen ones. holy and beloved (Col 3:12). David Benner writes: “When God thinks of you, love swells in his heart and a smile comes to his face.”
Whatever is on your agenda for the day, whatever problem you may be facing, go back to the beginning. Remember you are loved. Even more, you are the beloved son or daughter of God. He is pleased with you. He planted a seed of love in you.
God carved you in the palms of his hands and hid you in the shadow of his embrace. He looks at you with infinite tenderness and care. He has counted every hair on your head and guided you at every step. Wherever you go, he will be with you. Wherever you rest, He will keep watch. He will give you food that satisfies you and drink that will quench all your thirst. You belong to God and he loves you. Nothing will ever separate you from him. **
You are the Beloved.
*Hans Urs von Balthasar, Love Alone is Credible
**Henri Nouwen, Life of the Beloved