A winter storm – complete with the threat of a tornado – blew through the Twin Cities last week. Seeing as I just moved to the area from North Dakota to serve the Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center along with Mount Olivet Homes, I feel it is of the utmost importance to assure you: I did not bring the winter storm with me.
Silly jokes aside, the storm made me long for “all things cozy.” A cup of tea. A comfy hoodie paired with sweatpants and fuzzy socks. A warm, snuggly, and snoring dog… or two. Add to that storm the sort of hectic transition period that accompanies new beginnings, and I most definitely found myself wanting all of the above in addition to curling up under a beloved, well-worn quilt given to me years ago. (I guess the term “security blanket” exists for a reason!) For as exciting and welcoming as new beginnings can be – and this one certainly is both for me – they can be equally full of anxiety and uncertainty. And so often when these emotions are stirred up, it’s only too easy to forget a central truth about ourselves because they are convincing liars!
Anxiety and uncertainty can lead us to second guess our worth – questioning if we’re good enough or smart enough or talented enough. They can leave us thinking we’re an imposter or crazy to believe we could ever possibly do X, Y, or Z.
As meaning-making people, we connect so much value to our skills and what we do; but those are simply part of who we are. They’re not the sum of who we are. The truth is that first, foremost, and above all who we are is who God says we are and who God says we are is…loved.
Our identity is rooted in this truth that the God of love made us in God’s very image of love. And no matter what we do or how well we do it, no matter what we’ve done and no matter what’s been done to us, we remain beloved of God.
As a pastor, reminding people of their absolute belovedness in Christ is the joy of my life. And sometimes I need to receive that reminder, too! In fact, before making my move to Minnesota, I worshiped with a congregation one of my dear friends and mentors serves. In her sermon, she reminded me and all of us gathered of this truth: Jesus loves you. It sounds so simple and, of course, it is, but it’s also really, really powerful! I couldn’t remember the last time someone had proclaimed that to me since I had been the one to proclaim it to others; so, when I was reminded of that truth and received it as the blessing it is, it brought tears to my eyes and softened everything in me. I unclenched my jaw. I breathed in more deeply. I relaxed into – even if only for a moment – a sabbath rest I didn’t even realize I needed.
So, beloved, into the midst of any raging storms in your life . . . through the chaos of any transitions . . . in this final busy week of Advent, whose theme is love . . . and in the hope of unraveling the convincing lies of anxiety, uncertainty, and other emotions like them, I humbly offer you these words:
May these words
stretch around you
as a blanket of blessing,
gently tucking you in
with a deep sense of peace.
As you pull them up
snug to your chin,
may these words still be
long enough to cover your toes.
May they be
warm as a quilt
and soft as fleece,
offering much needed comfort
from this cold, hard world.
May these words
invite you to rest easy
in the truth
so often mistaken as mere dream:
You are loved.
May these words, beloved, be
the blessing they are.
you are loved.
Reverend Annie Langseth is the Director of Spiritual Care at Mount Olivet Homes, the Director of Outreach & Creative Engagement at Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center, and an ordained minister in the ELCA.