In my work through a course in Spiritual Direction with Ontario Jubilee (Certificate Program in Spiritual Deepening and Spiritual Direction) I have been reading many authors I have never been exposed to before. Among my favourites is Fr. Henri J.M. Nouwen. Of Dutch decent, this great author, priest and pastor, studied in the United States and settled in Canada. His work is now renowned in the world of spiritual deepening.
This week I read “Life of the Beloved” where Nouwen proclaims we are all “The Beloved” of the creator. He would argue we are all created perfectly and in his work he expresses strongly our need to believe in ourselves as special and divine.
Addressing our tendency toward self deprecation, Nouwen says, “Self rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us “Beloved”.
For we, who live in a society where humility is often confused with self-abnegation, we can be easily led to believe we are not worthy of an “abundant life” because our status or circumstance has put us in a place which appears to be of less value than others.
While this place is unfortunate it is also a place where we can become lethargic and allow ourselves to be less than we were intended to be. When we believe ourselves to be “less valuable” we can get away with “being less valuable”. We can forget our dreams and aspirations. We can put aside our hopes and blame it on circumstance and life.
On the other hand Nouwen challenges us with this statement. “From the moment we claim the truth of being the Beloved, we are faced with the call to become who we are.”
When I teach/train Peer Supporters in the mental health field it is my great pleasure to watch the metamorphosis of people who, because of their mental illness, have believed they had nothing to offer society. In the training we encourage trainees to use their own experience with mental health issues to offer hope, support and purpose to others living in the shadow of mental illness. We address the tendency toward putting ourselves down and point out it is never productive to our own health or that of others.
I challenge you, in this week of resurrection, to first to believe yourself as the “Beloved” of the creator and when you do, to follow your dreams.