|Ice dog in Monroe|
Henri Nouwen writes:
"Real freedom to live in this world comes from hearing clearly the truth about who we are, which is that we are the beloved. That’s what prayer is about. And that’s why it is so crucial and not just a nice thing to do once in a while. It is the essential attitude that creates in us the freedom to love other people not because they are going to love us back but because we are so loved and out of the abundance of that love we want to give." (Nouwen, A Spirituality of Living, pp. 15-16)
We are the beloved, the loved ones of God. God loves us. It is no coincidence that these were the first words from God that I ever heard.
I was twenty-one. A campus pastor whose name was Marshall was talking to me and my roommate Biff. I wasn't listening, because I was thinking how I could argue against this pastor. I asked him a question. A hard question. "I can't answer that one," he said. The he added, "But I do believe there is a God, and that he loves you."
That was it for me. I was undone. Ruined for life. God loves me. I knew it, viscerally, existentially, ontologically. In my heart. I have never been the same since. I am God's beloved.
This is what prayer is about. This is why I pray. I pray to God because God loves me. I find this to be a rule: I love talking with people who love me.
The heart-knowing of God's never-failing love for me frees me to love other people, irregardless of whether they love in return. God's love for me frees me to pray and to love and live for others. God's love unhinges me from the prison walls of hypothetical, theoretical love.