So Deeply Beloved

Friends, today I have a little gift for you and it is from my heart.

This is the yoga practice I need right now, these are the words I need. This month I have come face-to-face with a lot of my own insecurity, my own false identities, my desires for approval and the fear it all produces in my life. It has been good hard work, and there’s so much more to be done, over and over again, so much more. Yet I’m realizing that I can’t go farther without first coming to a new starting point in my spiritual journey. This yoga video is that starting point.

I come from a tradition that determined the starting place for the spiritual journey, the starting place for conversion, the starting place for walking with God was recognizing your depravity. We started with sin. We started with darkness and our distance from God. We started with brokenness. And then added to that, “But, it’s ok, because God loves you anyway, despite all that.” Somehow it doesn’t feel much like love when someone adds “despite _____” does it?

But, that isn’t where God starts. He doesn’t start his letter of Love to us with the fall. He starts it with creation. He first establishes our identity as being created in the image of God, given us His own breath for life, and then he calls us “very good”. Not just good, very good.

The story goes on and says, “Yes, we disobeyed. We are broken.” BUT, even in that God is acting out love. It is as if he says, “Your value has not changed. My heart is broken over what you did, and what you do, and there have to be consequences, but you are still created in my image, enlivened with my breath, the most beloved of all creation, very good.”

What if we could start our spiritual journey there too? What if we could start from the belief that the very core of us, our deepest identity, is being the Beloved. God does not love us as an afterthought, his love is not despite our list of x, y, and z sins. He loves us, at our core, before any of our other identities were in place, before the creation of time He saw each one of us and loved us.

Can you see the outcome when we start with total depravity? When our theology has this starting place, when it starts with sin, and the utter depravity of man, the result is fear and shame. I’ve lived with these shackles for so long they feel like my own limbs. Shame and fear and guilt - these are not the fruits of the Spirit. The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patiences, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Spirit fruit is freedom fruit. It is the fruit of knowing with confidence that you are loved by God. It is the fruit of open handed surrender to the work of Love.

Yes, we are broken, oh, but, friends, I see my brokenness every single day. I know how far I am from perfect. I know how far I am from obedience. I know how far I am from God. What I need to hear is Love. What I need to enter into is being the Beloved. Because until I do, no matter how much I feel I need Jesus, I have a terribly hard time letting him in.

Recognizing our brokenness helps us to recognize our need. And we are in need. We need Jesus. Not just as a good teacher, but as a savior. There is a place for speaking about brokenness and sin. But, perhaps we would be best served if we could start by first recognizing how much we are Loved.

You are Beloved.

I am Beloved.

Everything else changes when first viewed through that lens.

This video is my attempt to start at a new place, to start with love. To strip away everything else and start with an identity rooted in being the Beloved.

Rejoicing in the journey, Bethany

YogaBethany Stedman