“You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
This is what God shouts from the skies as Jesus is being baptized. We have just heard God proclaim Jesus’ primary identity. Sure, Jesus was other things too—carpenter, brother, Jewish man, Messiah and so on—but those are all just secondary identities. What really matters is who Jesus is under all that other stuff. When you dig down as deep as you can go, what you find is that at Jesus’ deepest, most real level, Jesus is God’s Son, the Beloved, with whom God is well pleased. And I will tell you that at your deepest and most real level and at my deepest and most real level our primary identities are exactly the same as Jesus’ primary identity. No matter what identities we have piled on top of our primary identity, at our core each and every one of us is God’s child, God’s beloved with whom God is well pleased.
I want you to try to imagine what I am about to describe. I want you to think about yourself at your baptism (either your actual baptism or how you might imagine it was or might be). In this image you might be an infant cuddled in the arms of someone who loves you. Maybe you are a child or an adult standing on your own two feet, but still surrounded by people who love and cherish you. Now what you imagine might come to you as an image or it might be a feeling or a sensation. It doesn’t really matter, just experience whatever comes to you. Now, imagine that as you are being baptized, as the water is being sprinkled on your head, or you are being immersed in the baptismal pool, imagine that a loud booming voice, one loud enough for you and everyone else to hear, announces to you and to all present, “You are my son, you are my daughter, the beloved; with you I am well pleased.” Get a picture or a feeling inside of you of what that feels or looks like. “You are my son, you are my daughter, the beloved; with you I am well pleased.” How does that feel, what does that look like? I can tell you that for me when I imagine myself in this scene, I feel warm, I feel loved, I feel confident, I feel joy, I feel whole. So try to hold onto that image or that feeling for a moment.
Now I want you to try to imagine something else. I want you to recall a time when you were at your best. This would be a time when you felt most alive, most involved, spiritually touched, or most excited about your life. This could be at work, at home, at play. This could be a recent happening or something that occurred long ago. Just get an image of it in your mind. What are you doing in that recollection? Who is there? What does it feel like? What is it about that time that made you feel so alive, so involved, so spiritually touched or so excited about your life? For me, when I recall a time when I was at my best it feels very similar to what it felt like when I imagined my baptism with God proclaiming that I was God’s daughter, God’s beloved; with me God is well pleased. I feel warm, I feel loved, I feel confident, I feel joy, I feel whole.
Over the next few months and years, as I watched her I saw a miracle gradually unfold in her. She started to gain weight. She stopped crying. And after about a year she started to talk. And let me tell you, once this girl started talking we couldn't shut her up. She was actually a raging extrovert. She eventually reached her senior year of high school, was accepted into college, and as far as I know is living a happy healthy life somewhere in the Midwest. And I know why this miracle occurred, because she told me the miraculous story of her transformation and healing before she went off to college.
When she was removed from her parents' care her uncle and aunt found her a very good therapist. She told me that when she first went to see this therapist, she could not talk at all. She sat week after week in her sessions, and cried without saying a word. Fortunately her therapist was very patient, compassionate and kind. She didn't try to rush the young woman she simply waited.
Finally after several weeks of silent tear-filled sessions, the therapist decided to try a new strategy. She said to the young woman, "I bet that everyone is asking you to talk about your past and what happened to you with your parents. Let's try something different. Let's talk about your dreams for the future." The young woman told me that she was surprised by her therapist's question, but had grown to trust the woman because of her patience with her, and so she shyly answered her. The young woman told her therapist that she had always wanted to be a princess. And as the young woman told the therapist this she found that her crying stopped.
What that therapist did with that young woman was to help her get in touch with her “beloved” nature. That therapist helped that young woman peel off all of the layers of stuff that had been piled on top of her true identity until she got down to the deepest and most real layer. The therapist helped the young woman understand that at her most real and true level, she is a princess, she is God’s daughter, the beloved, with whom God is well-pleased. And I want to tell you right now that when you imagined your baptism and when you recalled a time when you were at your best, you too were getting in touch with your most real and true level, you too were peeling away all the layers to get in touch with your “beloved” nature.
Each and every one of us was created by God for a purpose. We were created to be children of God. We were created to be God’s beloved. Each and every one of us is someone in whom God is well pleased. And we are most in touch with our beloved nature, we most closely manifest God’s purpose for us when we have been at our best, for it is at these times that we have most closely manifested the image of God that God created us to be.
What you focus on will become your reality. Good and bad is in each of us, which one do you wish to draw forth from yourself?
And a voice came from heaven, “You are my son. You are my daughter, the beloved; with you I am well pleased.”