No, this is not the name of the latest perfume, although it certainly could be - Loved, by God - for those who are loved by God and know it emit a certain...something...into the world that is undeniable. Some may say, "So God loves me. So what?" but the love of God reflected in the life of the faithful is an incredible truth. It's breathtaking.
Knowing that God loves you, specifically you, allows you to let go of the world. Come what may, whatever happens, you know that God loves you and that He is good. Beyond any and all things, love and good. That changes things.
Let me give you an example from my own life to put a little skin on this for you:
I have been searching for a job for approximately 13 years. Not a job, really, but a career. I've been looking for a place to settle. And at a time when my life was more insecure and when I was not as certain of God's love for me, I let my hopes ride on every application. I would come across a posting and think that this had to be what God was doing in my life. I would enthusiastically pour myself into the application process, crafting just the right cover letter, emphasizing my qualifications and excitement for the position. I would be certain that this was what was happening in my life.
And then, ten minutes later, I would receive a rejection. Most of the time, it was computer-automated; I hadn't used the right key words in my resume or on the online form and the computer just threw me out, just like that. That cover letter? Never read. Nobody ever saw it. All my hope? Gone. Dashed right away.
For years, I lived in this cycle of hope and devastation. It was crushing to my soul to receive every rejection because I was so certain of the possibility, only to have what seemed like another door slammed in my face. And it's because I had in my mind that I was just going to go busting through these doors, just going to throw them wide open, step into the room, and declare, Here I am! and that everyone was going to rejoice over this.
The truth is that this soul-approach was rooted almost entirely in the notion that God was going to show His love for me by putting me into one of these places. That when I finally landed somewhere, I would know how much God loves me.
These days, I start in a place of belovedness. I start with knowing how much God loves me. He loves me well in the season that I am in right now, and because I am allowing Him to love me here, because I am learning His love here, I am able to approach my hope for the future differently. No longer does it rest on Him proving something to me; He's already proved it.
This means I can go about knocking on doors and seeing which one He wants to open. If He doesn't want to open it, it doesn't change His love for me. If He busts it down, it doesn't change His love for me. I can write confidently, filling out applications and crafting cover letters and declaring, this is who I am. Not asking the question about whether or not this is me, not asking God to affirm or deny it by His response. He's already told me who I am; I don't need the world's affirmation. I don't need a sign. His love is a sign.
Recently, I asked a friend about an application I was considering submitting. She was hesitant, and I asked her why. She said, "You'd be good. You'd be great. But I don't want you to be devastated if you don't get it." Ah, a familiar pain! And ten years ago, she'd have been right.
But if you start in a place where God loves you, where your life is an opportunity and not a desperate plea to prove yourself, then it's not a concern. Sure, if I don't get it, I might grieve, but I'll also be asking God what He's up to and to give me better eyes for His vision. I'll be thanking God for keeping me from something that He didn't have for me. I'll be glad that I knocked on the door, but it won't rock me to the core if it doesn't open.
Because when you are rooted in God's love, you fundamentally believe that He is already working for your good. You can trust that He's on it, whatever it is. You understand that a door that doesn't open is not a rejection of you; you are loved.
Now, this is a bit of a silly example, but it extends into all kinds of things. When you know you are loved, you can put yourself out there in all kinds of ways without fear of losing yourself. You aren't worried about what it might take from you because you've got this love pouring into you. You aren't scared of this world because your feet are on the solid ground of love.
I think sometimes about how it would change Christianity's impact in the world if all of us could begin from this place, from knowing that we are loved by God. What if we were stepping out from this place, rather than always trying to step into it by proving ourselves somewhere, proving ourselves somehow? What if we started in God's love for us?
That's why it's so important to recognize, no matter what season we're in, that the first thing God wants to do...is to love us here. Now. Wholly. When we start in God's love, it changes everything.
**Note: Yes, I am always looking for my career, but it's also true that I love my job. I love what I get to do every day, the persons I do it with, and the persons I do it for. I believe there's something holy about it, and I wouldn't even mind making a career of it. I also know how God has been shaping me through it, and it's really, really neat to engage in. I am so blessed to be where I am right now, and I am thankful for God who put me here.