|Lake Michigan sunset|
Henri Nouwen believed that the key moment of Jesus' life was the affirmation from the Father at the moment of Jesus' baptism: "This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased."
This was the core of Jesus' identity. And the same becomes the core of your identity; viz., you are God's beloved son or daughter. This comes down to the basic truth that God is love, and God loves you.
The deep knowing of God's love frees us from a manipulating false "love" in our relationships and ministry to others. We no longer love out of our own need to be liked and affirmed. We are free to love and give, with no existential expectation of being loved in return. This is real love. This is the love of God.
Will Hernandez writes that Nouwen notes that "friendship becomes a lot more freeing once we recognize the truth that we are deeply loved because then we are released to love others nonpossessively (IVL: 80)." (Hernandez, Henri Nouwen and Spiritual Polarities: A Life of Tension, Kindle Locations 823-824)
"Knowing and owning this truth of our belovedness helps us escape the tyranny of self-rejection that plagues many of us," (Ib.)
My new book is Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.