feeling God’s love

I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

— Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV)

Think back. Was there a time and place where you have felt truly beloved? I mean, downright cherished? Those are precious and good moments. Sometimes it’s the feeling of your dog or cat deciding you have hung the moon, or at least put dinner out in a dish. A child that hugs you around the waist. A friend’s irrational interest in the specifics of your day. (Is any Tuesday really that interesting? Probably not, but I’m not complaining.) It could be an anniversary celebration, a graduation moment, or the feeling of someone squeezing your hand. We forget these moments quickly, but they are crucial. If we forget what it feels like to be loved, we may not remember how to be loved by God too.

Let’s try.

God, it has taken a while to see it,
clouded as these days have been
with a vague sense of unease,
gradually coming to my awareness
that I need to feel your love.
Not generally. Not for the whole world.
But for the specific, particular me
that is here, now.
(Though it feels embarrassing to say so.)
But aren’t we all at the center
of our own stories?
As heroes, villains, winners, losers,
or whatever fits the plot of the day?

God, rewind this story back
to the beginning,
when my eyes opened and, newborn,
I came into this world wholly loved.
You loved me.

Not for anything I had done,
but simply because.
And here, though my vision is blurry,
I do know what love feels like.
And that is life to me.
So remind me, again, God,
how the world spins and the winds change
and the oceans churn and not a single fact
tells a different story than your love for me.

reflection prompt
I have a spectacular friend named Chelsea, and we have known each other since we were in an elementary school judo class. We are true witnesses to each other’s lives, so we are forever talking about what goes on “The List.” The List is our shorthand for saying: What experiences really count? When something lovely happened, did it go on The List? So here’s a bit of spiritual homework, friend. Let the next good thing that happens to you really count. Let it be part of the story of how loved you really are.

Excerpted from “Have a Beautiful, Terrible Day!” by Kate Bowler. Copyright © 2024 by Kate Bowler. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.