I am unique.
There is no-one quite like me.
Do I hear whispers or cries of “well there’s a relief then – there’s only one of her!!”? 🙂
If I’m unique, that means I am special. The word “special”, in our current culture, means somehow not only different from, but also better than others.
However, Nouwen reminds us today that if I am special because I am unique, if I am special because of the immensity of God’s love for me, then every person I meet is equally special for exactly the same reasons.
To the extent that we are secure in our identity (see Day 20) and know that we are loved and accepted in our entirety, we are then freed up to love and accept those around us in their entirety.
To the extent that we can live in thankfulness for all the blessings of our life, seeing all that is good, true, just, pure in our past and in our present circumstances, we are then able to share those blessings with those around us.
When our identity is threatened, our confidence shaken – and that can happen so, so easily – we will tend to raise barriers, fight for our position, our status. To let go of our position, our status, is hard… very hard… unless and until we know that we are loved and accepted.
And if it is hard for me, it is also hard for those around me.
May we have compassion on one another, may we deal gently with one another today and every day.
May we learn to lower our defences, be it ever so slightly, and dare to be vulnerable with one another.
And may the God Who was prepared to set aside all His glory and majesty be born anew in our lives today and every day.
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Who am I?
I suspect that might just be the single most important question in the universe.
Not “Who do you think I am?”
Not “Who do you want me to be?”
Not “What role(s) do I fulfil?”
Not “How am I feeling?”
Not “Am I good enough?”
“Who am I?”
Some of us have a strong sense of identity from earliest childhood, others don’t. In earliest childhood numerous things can be said to us, done to us, not said to us, not done to us, all of which have a bearing on our sense of identity – even on whether we truly understand that we exist at all, or that it’s OK for us to exist. Later in life, the things that are said to us, done to us, not said to us, not done to us, can confirm our earliest decision about who (or even whether) we are, for good or for ill.
Ultimately, we all need to hear, in our own way, the voice of God speaking directly to us.
“See how much I love you”.
“See how I have called you into life”.
“Hear how much I love you”.
“Hear me call you by name”.
“Taste how much I love you”.
“Feed on my love for you”.
“Feel how much I love you”.
“I am holding you in my arms. I always have, I always will. You may not always feel it, but it is a fact. Feel my love for you”.
When we don’t see, hear, taste, feel, the love God has for us – what then? We can know that God is always looking for ways to break through the barriers we erect, to cut through the chains others tie us up with, to reveal his love for us. And in that knowing – which is often a blind clinging to glimpses we have had in the past of God’s love for us, or even an even blinder clinging to the assurance of another that “God has never loved you, will never love you, more than He does at this very moment. You will find healing.” – we can find a way to trust God with our pain, our darkness
And to wait.
Above all, in this season of Advent, to wait for the Light to shine in our darkness.
I could suggest strategies to break through from darkness to light, but I won’t.
I will only say that the path from darkenss to light, the breaking down of barriers, the cutting of chains, can be indescribably painful. And it’s worth it, because the Light, when it dawns, dispels the darkness and shows it up for the insubstantial mist that it is.
If you are in darkness today, simply trust Jesus with your darkness. Turn to Him and wait for His light to break out in you. He loves you more than you can begin to imagine.
If you are secure in that light today, pray for all who aren’t, for all for whom this season of Advent and Christmas is one of immeasurable pain.
As for today’s Advent Action… as an incorrigible “doer” who is slowly and painfully learning to “be”, for me, my goal isn’t “to do good”. For me, my goal is “to be”. And that sense of identity, of “being”, grows in me inasmuch as I allow myself to be open to the love of God. And then the “doing” just happens… the love of God for me spills over in love for all whom I encounter as I go through the day.
So I won’t be wearing holly. Haven’t got any anyway, and don’t know where to get any. But I will be opening myself afresh to the still, small voice of God… whispering in my heart “see how much I love you…”
And here are other people posting on the Advent Book Club: