So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
~ Colossian 3:12
I think about now we all need to hear the voice that calls us, "Beloved." Paul reminds us that God will say, "Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,' and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’” (Romans 9:25)
While we seek to be one in community, I am reminded that we must first be one with the One who says, "You are my Beloved. I want to be with you."
It is the same reason that Jesus reminds us to love one another as I have loved you. It must begin with our own personal relationship and understanding of being the "Beloved," in order for us to arrive at a place where we recognize this in one another.
Years ago there was a time when I got into an argument with someone very close, and my grandmother, being the great negotiator that she was, made me sit in a chair in front of the person that I had the disagreement with. "Now you two sit here until you give the other person permission to get up," she explained.
I remembering staring for what seemed like hours at the person, determined that I was not about to "give in," to such a foolish idea. My grandmother would peek her head around the corner to see how the progress was going. We just sat there. Silent. Staring. I think I remember beginning to hum, and then whistle. My grandmother came back into the room, creating the rule that we could "not sing, hum, or do anything other than talk directly to the other person."
AND we were not allowed to touch one another as well. (She was good. She knew all the tricks. I later learned that she herself had to undergo such punishments as a child.)
I watched as the clock passed an hour, and for a child, this was clearly a "whole day."
We were not tasked with apologizing, but that we were to just give the other person permission to "get up."
Another hour went by and it then became more about who had greater strength.
The other person finally said, "Okay, Todd, if you tell me that I can get up, then I will tell you that you can get up."
"How will I know that you will let me up?" I asked.
"You can trust me," was the reply.
Of course I then said, "You tell me first, and then I will let you up."
This went on for another twenty minutes. The afternoon was quickly ending, and any chance of going out to play was escaping. I finally gave in and said, "You can get up."
Within just a few moments, the person was up out of the chair, and then darted from the room. I was trapped. I had not been given permission to get up, and my grandmother who was in the adjoining room had witnessed all that had occured. I cried out, "That's not fair! Where is my permission!"
I felt betrayed, and defeated, as well as, mad. My grandmother came in and sat with me. I'm pretty sure I had started to cry at this point, and I just remember her saying to me, "But you were the one who forgave first."
In many ways, I was being told, "Beloved, because you forgave first, you understand me better."
She had me rise to my feet, gave me a hug, and then invited me into the kitchen where she was making a cake. She gave me a beater covered in icing and I remember thinking, "this is what I got for being the first to say 'get up.'"
I have tried, and failed often, to practice this very thing with others. Finding many times that those I disagree with aren't even willing to sit across for me, and I still carry that feeling of offering forgiveness and not being forgiven in return.
In many ways, being left to ourselves is an invitation. It is the invitation to let go of other ways.
The voice that calls us, "Beloved," is the voice that hears our cries when we are hurt. When we have hurt one another, and when we simply can't do anything but sit and stare at our neighbor. It is the invitation to take a moment, to gather ourselves, and to refocus our journey.
Each of us, are "Beloved."
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2020
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain and ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.