Beloved and the Soul
Just as our eyes can distort an image, so can our souls.
The vision of our souls is flawed.
Growing up, I always wanted to wear glasses. Having to wear them now, many years later, makes me wonder why I wanted them. I guess I saw classmates with them and thought it would be cool to have my own pair. I didn’t understand that having glasses meant that my view of the world is flawed and needs correction.
As an adult, I understand that just as our eyes can distort an image, so can our souls. None of us has 20/20 soul vision when we view the people and events of this world; our experiences skew it. The nature of these experiences determines the way we see anything we encounter. The word, beloved, is a good example of how flawed vision can skew our understanding of something that should be cherished.
Beloved vs Loved
I have heard the word, beloved, more when I was a child than as an adult. It sounds more like a word from the King James Bible and is rarely used today. Being a logophile (a lover of words), however, I have researched this word and have found two slightly different meanings.
1. Beloved is a term used when desiring to express a stronger degree in which a person loves another. Being loved is one thing but if they are beloved, it means that the person is loved deeply.
2. Love is an emotion you have for another and beloved is the emotion someone has for you.
The difficulties my soul has with the word, beloved, is not in deciding which definition best suits my understanding of the word. Instead, when I am told I am beloved, the struggle I have is the skewed vision my soul has of my worthiness.
My worthiness is shaped by three things
In my preparation as a teacher years ago, I learned in my classes that you should use the known to explain the unknown. This is a good practice in the subjects I teach but with issues of the soul, it doesn’t work as well because my vision is flawed. I have spent 53 years shaping my idea of what it means to be beloved and many things have contributed to this skewed vision.
1. How others have loved me
I have gathered throughout my lifetime a “file” in my soul that tells me what love is like. My first bit of data comes from the love my parents gave me. Good or bad, right or wrong, whatever I perceived love is from their actions is part of the vision I have of being beloved. Because my parents’ souls (and all others in my family) are also flawed, I often received/perceived a skewed vision of love. These “visions” of my soul have made me doubt my worthiness. So, when I am told I am beloved, I must give my soul a workout (see below) to embrace their love.
2. How I saw others love
When considering my worthiness of the title, beloved, people known personally or via the media, have also contributed to my flawed vision. These groups’ voices in my soul have waxed and waned through the years and one of them stands out.
I have heard many times that to obtain the title, beloved; I have to first love myself. I understand that many do not mean I must put myself first, one hundred percent of the time but what worries me about this idea is how often I see others practicing selfishness believing it will produce worthiness. This vision is skewed.
3. How God loves me
We are told, repeatedly in the Bible that God loves us. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…” (John 3:16) “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.” (John 15:16) “(God) will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love,” (Zephaniah 3:17)
These verses and many more pour onto the page the love God has for His beloved (us). Yet, this demonstration of unconditional love can be hindered by two things, the skewed vision of ourselves we have developed through the years and the choice to reject God’s evaluation of us because of our faulty vision.
Faith is the workout for our souls
Faith does not mean you need to turn your mind off and not think through your worthiness. Faith means we take God at His word, that He loves us, unconditionally, rather than accept the flawed demonstrations of love we have receive from those on this earth.
By the act of my will, rather than the feelings I have at the moment, I will choose to
graciously accept the title of beloved that God gives me. I can do this, by faith because the price paid for anything determines its value. God gave the priceless gift when He gave His only Son for me and still calls me beloved; therefore, I am beloved.
Adjusting our thinking changes how we feel
To change how you feel about a specific thing, you must adjust your thinking. This is a process that is not a one-time choice; it’s a continual process. Like all workouts, his process takes energy and tenacity but the reward is huge. We ARE beloved.