“Don’t allow anything to interfere with your love for Jesus. You belong to Him. Nothing can separate you from Him. That one sentence is important to remember. He will be your joy, your strength. If you hold onto that sentence, temptations and difficulties will come, but nothing will break you. Remember, you have been created for great things.” – Mother Teresa
I listened to a podcast (click here) yesterday about the life of a woman named Kelly Baader. She is a successful businesswoman, author and inspirational speaker. Her life story is incredible. Incredible. I won’t go into details here, but it would be a great understatement to say that she has experienced significant hardship in her life. We all experience highs and lows, good days and bad ones, but the valleys in Ms. Baader’s life would have crushed most people. I find myself wondering whether I would have been able to overcome them. In short, she was a victim to great challenge and struggle, made to feel as though she was property only, living for the benefit of others, without value, something you could easily toss away without even a thought. Kelly, raised in a non-Christian country, found Jesus. Through the kindness and example of others, which is always how the best evangelization works, she began a long path upward, toward the light, to love, and to the realization that she was, in fact, not worthless at all. Not even close.
That upward story is worth hearing. But there was one pivotal moment in her life that I’d like to describe here. She was at a low point, but also beginning to see that there may yet be some hope worth holding onto. Her path was filled with needing – and being brave enough – to forgive some of the people who hurt her most of all. Some rejected her efforts outright, but she realized that her desire to forgive became part of her own healing. That forgiveness is a gift we can give to those who cause our pain, while also being a powerful gift that we can give to ourselves in the process.
But the pivotal moment came when she realized that her worth was not defined by others, that her life, a gift from God himself, was what mattered most of all. As Mother Teresa states in the quote above, we belong to him. We are his. Typically, the idea of being possessed is disempowering and makes us feel completely subjected to the desires of another. But to be possessed by God is to belong to one who loves us, cherishes us actually, and who wants only what is best for us. We are born so that we may experience joy and pain, free will and choices, and then to determine whether our best way forward is to return to him someday. If we make that choice, regardless of what happens to us, no one will ever be able to set us off that mark, dissuade us from proceeding toward the promise of salvation. And to get back to the one who made us and who beckons us ever to return.
As she was fighting despair and seeking hope, she called out to the Heavenly Father and asked for… a hug. She asked for him to hug her. When I heard this, I paused the podcast and thought for a moment: a hug is not typically something I would associate with a divine being, with the creator of the universe. But a hug is what we sometimes need most of all.
When I ponder all the things we can pray about, ask for, and seek… I wonder if such a hug from God would be a great starting point. To feel his presence, his embrace. To be reminded of the very reason we are here… to journey forward and then back into his waiting and loving arms.
And to remember just how very much we do belong.