Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Invitation to the Beloved





I want to introduce you to someone.  They live very close to you. Closer than your breath, really.  Her name is Beloved. 

Here is the message, the only message, that I have been called here to say, put here in words laced together by Brennan Manning:  
  
Being the beloved is your identity, the core of your existence.  It is not merely a lofty thought, an inspiring idea, or a name among many. It is the name by which God knows us and the way he relates to us.” (Nouwen,1998) 
  
The Imposter  
  
It’s tricky, because she sometimes walks around as the Imposter. On some days you will
notice her doing something ordinary-maybe walking to the mailbox-and wonder what out of town guest might be visiting, because she hardly looks familiar.  

Brennan Manning familiarizes us in his book Abba’s Child with the Imposter.  Among other things, she can be recognized by: (p. 16) 
  • She lives in fear: “The false self plays its deceptive role, ostensibly protecting us but doing so in a way that is programmed to keep us fearful--of being abandoned, losing support, not being able to cope on our own, not being able to be alone.” 
  • Imposters are preoccupied with acceptance and approval - “have-tos” take on meaning that attaches itself to the soul 
  • Cannot say no with the same confidence they say yes  
  • Overextend themselves in people, projects, and causes motivated by not living up to others expectations - “I am not Ok unless ___________ is OK” 
  • Suppresses and camouflages feelings making emotional clarity and honesty impossible (often even from one’s own self)  
  • Compulsive desire to present a certain image to the public so that everybody will admire and nobody will know us. (Because if they don’t have access to the real and raw us...we can’t be rejected, right?)  
  • Wear a mask….The thing about wearing a mask is that only the mask receives love. Your true self, the part of you that is really real like the Velvatine Rabbit...she starves because all relating and affection is absorbed by the mask before it reaches the part that is truly hungry for connection. (Lynch, 2011) 
  • Buys into outside experiences to furnish a personal source of meaning 
  • Imposters have a highly tuned external antenna but lack an anchor to their internal sensor where unseen but mission-critical perceptions are necessary for navigating relationships and challenges. Manning quotes James Masterton, “It is the nature of the false self to save us from knowing the truth about our real selves, from penetrating the deeper causes of our unhappiness, from seeing ourselves as we really are--vulnerable, afraid, terrified, and unable to let our real selves emerge….The false self has a highly skilled defensive radar whose purpose is to avoid feelings of rejection although sacrificing the need for intimacy.” (Manning, 1998, P. 23) 
  • The imposter is what she does 
Can You Hear the Inward Music of Your Belovedness…? 
  
When I draw life and meaning from any source other than my belovedness, I am spiritually dead...I have swapped the pearl of great price for fragments of glass” (Manning, 1998 P.14) 


It’s very likely one of the previous characterizations of your false, imposter self ring a bell of connection. For me, when I sit and linger with this quote that sums up all of them,  I find it echoes in familiar, ordinary days: 
  
“Our controlled frenzy creates the illusion of a well-ordered existence. We move from crisis to crisis, responding to the urgent and neglecting the essential.  We still walk around. We still perform all the gestures and actions identified as human, but we resemble people carried along the mechanical sidewalk of an airport. The fire in the belly dies.  We no longer hear what Boris Pasternak called, “the inward music” of our belovedness. (Manning, 1998 P. 15) 
  
Your Invisible Muscle...the Beloved 
  
In the spiritual realm, we CANNOT afford to have a thought about us in our head that he
doesn't have about us in His head. This opens us up to a spirit of deception that is a highway back to the imposter self.   

As I have been taught and if you have been around me long I have likely taught you...the enemy of your soul has no power unless it borrows yours.  You have heard me say that you have a “muscle” that exists within but you cannot see. 

I call mine my “Mandi Muscle”  (insert your name!) 

It is the part of you that can accept and receive love in your most disheleved , distracted, and desperate state. It is the part of you that knows the “next right thing to do” if you are still enough to listen.  It is the original part of you...that part you see when you look into the eyes of a picture of yourself as a baby and is the mysterious original unbreakable untarnishable core of you. It is the part of that is unswervingly trustworthy because it is here that you are wrapped up and knit together with the Holy Spirit.  
  
Manning, Nouwen, May, Merton, Rhor, and many other contemplative writers and thinkers would call this part of you the beloved 
  
As you notice the bits of narrative that you preach to your own soul from the economy of the imposter, you can reclaim that territory for the wellspring of ease that your beloved self abides in when the power of your identity is not “borrowed” by your imposter self. 
Cone Shaped Spirit Life 
Nouwen describes our Kingdom life shaped as an upside-down cone.  

He says, “You can look at your life as a large cone that becomes narrower the deeper you go.  There are many doors in that cone that give you chances to leave the journey.  But you have been closing these doors one after the other, making yourself go deeper and deeper into the center.   You know that Jesus is waiting for you at the end, just as you know that he is guiding you as you move in that direction.  
 Every time you close another door--be it the door of immediate satisfaction, the door of distracting entertainment, the door of business, the door of guilt and worry, or the door of self-rejection--you commit yourself to go deeper into your heart and thus deeper into the heart of God.” (Nouwen, 1988)   
  
Deeper...into your identity as the beloved. What if you could just rest there? What if this is the year we learn to still our frenzy into a hushed wrap of quiet awareness...that the most exclusive truth about who you are is.you are the beloved of the Beloved. And it it touch every aspect of our moments.  It’s PRACTICAL:  
  
“Becoming the beloved is pulling the truth revealed to me from above down into the ordinariness of what I am, in fact thinking about, talking about, and doing hour by hour.” - Nouwen  

The further we move into this cone, the more “doors” we close, the greater the Holy Spirit gravity takes us and makes each step lighter. Like if you were doing a race carrying a bag of stones and you got to drop one every so often...how much relief of ease would each stone bring. (Insert Jordan Stones Theme Song 
 Defining yourself radically and experiencing life as the beloved is the invitation in 2019.  
Beloveds, as we step into 2019, no prayer burns brighter than to plant seeds of hunger for the shedding of the imposter and all the anxiety that goes with it like a hot coat in the summer, welcoming home without shame that prodigal wandering mask wearing self, persisting deeper into the “cone” eyes wide open, closing doors along the way, soul soft and open to mystery of the Beloved germinating as you cultivate it on a daily basis.  
  
You. Are. Loved.  
   
Manning, Brennan. 2015.  Abba’s Child. NavPress. Colorado Springs, CO.  
Nouwen, Henri.  1998. The Inner Voice of Love. Random House, Inc. New York, New York.  
Lynch, John. 2011. The Cure. True Faced. Phoenix, AZ.  
  

Invitation to the Beloved

I want to introduce you to someone.  They live very close to  you. Closer than your breath, really.  Her name is Beloved.  He...