Decades have passed since that day, yet I remember it as if it were only yesterday.
I had been watching her for several months. She walked with an air of confidence. She was focused, well-spoken, highly educated, and a consummate professional. She had recently started attending my Sunday school class and, since day one, had engaged in the group discussion.
I was intrigued by her profound wisdom and insight. I admired the way she carried herself. Even more, I longed for what she possessed.
Since adolescence, I had struggled with self-image issues. I constantly compared myself to others, in all situations, and with all people — including strangers I passed in a store. In all scenarios, I concluded I was not pretty enough, smart enough, or good enough. I made sure no one knew how I really felt; I put on a smile, and cheerfully engaged; I suffered in silence.
While I had introduced myself to this lady on her first Sunday, I was cautious around her. I was afraid she would see the real me and determine, and confirm, that I was not enough. So I watched her from a distance, trying to figure out her secret.
One Sunday morning, as she was leaving class, I blurted her name. Well, that was a stupid thing to do! Now I will have to talk with her! But I've just got to know... My heart pounded as she stopped her purposeful stride and walked back to where I was standing.
I stumbled over my words. “Where do you get your confidence?”
She answered without hesitation as if the answer was always ready on her tongue.
“I am in the Beloved.”
She broke eye contact only long enough to open her Bible to Ephesians 1:6.
“And because I am in the Beloved, in Christ, I am adopted, chosen, and secure in my salvation.” Her eyes penetrated mine. “I am confident in who I am because of Christ.”
I am certain she said more, but I had stopped listening. One single word was a balm to my tired, weary and battered heart: beloved.
While I knew what the word meant, when I got home, I pulled out my dictionary.
Beloved: dearly loved. Synonyms include adored, cherished, favorite, darling, and treasured.
I began to chew on her words…
So, as a follower of Christ, that meant I, too, was adopted and chosen! I was beloved — and everything that she possessed, I also possessed!
I sensed a warm awakening in the depth of my soul. God chose me. He adopted me. He considers me dearly loved, adored, and treasured.
Beloved: the antonym of the words I had been using to define myself since I was a child. I was not despised! I was not rejected! I was not worthless!
Beloved: the one word that began my journey to discovering my true identity; a journey where I would learn to counter my insecure feelings with the truth of God’s word.
Beloved. I am not unchosen or invisible. John 15:16 reminds me that He – the Lord – chose me. He chose me before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4. I am His possession (1 Peter 2:9). Even more specific to my singleness, God reveals in Isaiah 54:5 that He, my Maker, is my husband. He will provide for my needs. He will watch over me and comfort me. I am never alone!
Beloved. I am made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27) and all that He makes is very good (Genesis 1:31). (Note to self: it says very good!) I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalms 139:14). I am thankful, that while men and women will judgingly look at my outward appearance, the Lord looks at my heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
Beloved. I have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) and through His Holy Spirit, I possess the revealed wisdom of God (I Corinthians 2:10). The Lord gives wisdom, knowledge, and understanding (Proverbs 2:6), which is more valuable than any college degree, professional title, or social status.
Beloved. I spent decades trying to meet perceived expectations of what I considered to be good and never felt I measured up. The truth is that the standard of enough was redefined the moment I accepted Christ as my Savior.
Even after all these years, I sometimes allow my feelings to consume me and distort my perception. I listen to the old, ugly descriptive words and even fall back into the habit of comparing myself. Thankfully, I am quick(er) to recognize that I have lost my focus and get back on track with Truth.
I am still on my journey of discovering who I am and will not fully comprehend who I am in Christ until I draw my last earthly breath. Yet I walk much differently these days; I walk confidently.
I am a chosen and adopted daughter of the One True King. I am cherished and adored by my Heavenly Father.
I am in the Beloved. And oh, how my heart rejoices!
To the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
P. S. The woman who told me all those years ago about Beloved? She is now a very dear friend and we have served together in church ministry for the past 12 years! We often talk about that day and how it changed the trajectory of my faith walk! Beloved. 💜