In his book, Here and Now: Living in the Spirit, Henri Nouwen wrote, “One of the tragedies of our life is that we keep forgetting who we are.”
As a leader and a teacher of women, I often find that “forgetting who we are” is the biggest obstacle I face when coaching women who are struggling to find their purpose or calling. At one time in our lives, somewhere deep inside us, was a yearning for more, a dream that is now forgotten, a burning desire to make a difference; but then came the bumps in the road, the disappointments, the naysayers, the mistakes, the choices, the sacrifices, the seasons of life…
We reject who God created us to be, in His image, and click the “apply now” button to whatever society, family or friends thinks we should be instead. Nouwen continues his thought provoking words when he goes on to write that he believes, “the real trap of our lives is self-rejection.” He says, “As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking, “Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody.” … [My dark side says,] I am no good… I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected, and abandoned. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved.” Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.”
Before you can truly live out your calling, you must know and experience the fact that you are God’s chosen one. You are His “Beloved”. There is a daily renewal in this knowledge and experience of God’s undivided attention and love upon our lives. If you are to fulfill your purpose, you must first know the Purpose Giver. Your relationship of daily devotion will be a reward greater than any ministry you could ever have. This is truly what we were made for, to know God so well that we begin to see our true, unbroken, identity in His reflection; to hear our Father whisper to us, “you are my chosen, Beloved.”
Think about the beauty of the interaction between the Father and Jesus when he was baptized by John. We see that as soon as Jesus was baptized, the Father said,“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16-17). The significant thing I want you to notice is that God said he loved Jesus and was pleased with him before he ever performed one miracle, before he did any ministry, before he chose to sacrifice himself on the cross for our sins, and before he rose from the dead!
I hear the voice inside your head. It is the same one that is in my own. It is the one that tells me, “But Jesus was perfect. Of course, his Father was pleased with him!” Okay, I have another story for you.
What about Hagar. As you know, Hagar was an Egyptian maidservant that Sarai gave to her husband, Abram, to speed up God’s promise for them to have a child. Hagar was not brought up in the Jewish culture; God was not a part of her everyday thought or experience. But fast forward to the time when the pregnant Hagar fled to the desert to get away from Sarai and the angel of the Lord found her. The angel told Hagar what her future would be and then the angel gave Hagar directions to fulfill her future. In one of my favorite passages of scripture, Hagar, a woman who was not looking for God, says, “You are the God who sees me, for she said, I have now seen the One who sees me” (Genesis 16:13 NIV). Why? Because God, our Heavenly Father pursues those He loves before they do anything on His behalf. He is coming after us, just as He did Hagar so that we will know that He is the “One who sees me” and that He has a plan and purpose for our lives.
Just like Jesus and Hagar, the Egyptian woman, you need to realize that before any calling, before any ministry or world changing miracles, you were chosen and loved. The past, present and future changes nothing; your Father knows it all, accepts it into His loving arms and cheers you on to the finishline.