Waking Up Beloved {Book Club}

This book had me at hello, which for a book was the forward by Andy Crouch. In the foreword of Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren, Crouch said, “It is not just that the secular is shot through with the sacred. Worship itself is made up of ordinary stuff. We use plain words. We are baptized in plain water. We consume plain bread and wine. And it is all lifted up by plain people. Yet all of this is far from ordinary. Our bodies, our pleasures, our fears, our fatigue, our friendships, our fights—these are in fact the stuff of our formation and transformation into the frail but infinitely dignified creatures we were meant to be and shall become. Our moments of exaltation and our stifled yawns—somehow they go together, part of the whole life we are meant to offer to God day by day.”

Yes. Just this.

Since this book will follow one day, it is no surprise that Warren starts off by discussing how she wakes up. She wakes slowly. I do not, I have an “on/off” switch. I very rarely lay in bed. What’s the point? As Anna said in Frozen, “The sky is awake, so I am awake, I have to go out and play!” When I wake up, I’m awake and ready to go. How about you? Do you wake up slowly? Or do you have an “on/off” switch also? (And don’t hate me, I only set an alarm a couple of times a year.)

This can’t be the first time I’ve heard that Jesus was declared “beloved” by God before he was sent out. But the sentiment of being beloved stood out to me. “Jesus is sent out first with a declaration of the Father’s love.” What a difference it would make if we all lived from a place of deep belovedness.

Later in the chapter she Warren wrote, “Before we begin the liturgies of our day—the cooking, sitting in traffic, emailing, accomplishing, working, resting—we begin beloved.”

As a small daily practice for this chapter, this week every morning I am trying to have my first thought of the day be that of belovedness. In full disclosure, I’ve done it for two days now. Yesterday was a FULL ON DAY. You know the kind. I had to be up early and my morning was spent at a fundraising breakfast for a local ministry. I’m the president of the board and we have been working on this event since June. It was the kind of day that it would be easy to measure what I had accomplished. I rolled out of bed and thought, “Amy, you are God’s beloved.”

The sense of belovedness sent me off to the event framed in a different light. I am God’s beloved regardless of how “successful” the breakfast would be. I am beloved.

I wrote the first part of this post yesterday afternoon and then today I slept in. You know when you wake up and something feels just a little off, but you can’t quite put your finger on it. It was an hour later than it usually is when I wake up. I will be honest that my first thought was, “What?! I’ve overslept.” Followed by, “Amy, obviously you needed the sleep.” And a few seconds later, “Because you are beloved.”

Belovedness didn’t only reframe me on a rich and full day where I can measure what I’ve done—sometimes I confuse “belovedness” with “able to see the good I have accomplished. Belovedness also speaks into those private moments when the enemy of our soul wants us to think, “You have already blown it before you even started.” (And how is getting an extra hour of sleep, “blowing it?” This lesson of belovedness may seem simple and normally I think of myself as a very beloved person. Yet in two days of this small practice, much has been uncovered!

Have you tried for your first thought of the day to be, “I am beloved”? What did you notice? If you haven’t tried it, do and then share with us your experience.

Since Warren mentions baptism, I thought of a post I shared recently on Instagram with this photo:

Today I’m thinking of the paradox of the expansive particular in the Kingdom of God.
.
Standing in beautiful churches in Estonia, Russia, Helsinki, and Finland, my spirit stirred with how broad and deep and old and new God’s work in our world is.
.
Standing in a fairly common church today (in a building I don’t believe will stand the test of time), I watched my nieces Katy, Anna, and Chloe be baptized. Each publicly declaring her belief in Jesus and desire to follow Him. Three little lambs who are precious in his sight. Tears, of course. Thoughts of their grandparents and my grandparents and our particular family. Love of Jesus for caring about individuals and His bride throughout history and geography.
.
Expansive particular. This is the beauty of a life of faith and fun! [I took out a line about American football, thus the ‘fun’ reference.]

///

I’ll end today with another line I loved in this chapter, the final one: “If I am to spend my whole life being transformed by the good news of Jesus, I must learn how grand, sweeping truths—doctrine, theology, ecclesiology, Christology–rub against the texture of an average day. How I spend this ordinary day in Christ is how I will spend my Christian life.”

Amen. See you in the comments as we discuss waking up, baptism, and belovedness.

Amy

P.S. Here’s the reading schedule for Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life:

October 16: Chapters 2-3, October 23: Chapter 4, October 30: Chapters 5-6, November 6: Chapters 7-8, November 13: Chapter 9, November 20: Chapter 10, November 27: Chapter 11

25 Comments

  1. Maria October 8, 2018

    I have been wanting to read this book for quite some time – it always shows up in the “Recommended for you” list on Amazon, so I was thrilled for the excuse to actually plunge into it with the VA crew. Chapter 1 was beautiful. A few thoughts that stuck out to me:
    – I, like the author, love big ideas. I love dreaming and planning and growing. But the Annie Dillard quote “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives” stops me in my tracks. Going off of that, the quote Amy mentions in the end of her post is unbelievably, ordinarily profound. And I love that paradox.
    I’m struck with the infinite opportunities I have to glorify Jesus if my eyes can but see the holy in the mundane.
    And I want to try Amy’s practice of “waking up beloved.”
    I’m looking forward to more!

  2. Rachel Kahindi October 9, 2018

    I’ve been waiting for this day for, like, 18 months! I first read this book last year because I had chosen the word “ordinary” as my word of the year. Most of my time is spent on ordinary daily life, not exciting “Kingdom Work.” But can’t ordinary tasks be Kingdom Work, if I do them to the glory of God? I’m excited to read it again!

    I knew I had chosen the right book as inspiration with this line: “We tend to want a Christian life with the dull bits cut out.” and “What if all these boring parts matter to God?” AND “There is no task too small or too routine to reflect God’s glory and worth.” At this point, I’m on the verge of highlighting the entire book…

    I loved the point she made about being beloved before working. I would like to try bringing that to mind as I wake up, but it’s hard for me to think of things in the morning.

    Which brings me to your question, Amy: I definitely do not have an on switch. It takes me a couple of hours to become a functional human, and I wouldn’t mind spending the first hour laying awake in bed, if only I didn’t have responsibilities. Mornings are hard.

    1. Felicity Congdon October 10, 2018

      I loved those parts you quoted in the second paragraph too. I can relate to wanting the dull bits cut out. I think I succeeded in cutting out many of them as a college student, many times to the detriment of my health (not eating well, not cleaning my space, never making my bed!)

    2. Amy Young October 11, 2018

      The dull bits cut out?! Oh yes, just think how exciting my life could look if all the dull bit were cut out. But then, it wouldn’t really be my life :).

      Oh Rachel, I cannot imagine laying in bed for an hour. I am super proud of myself if I lay there for . . . oh say . . . five minutes :). I do try sometimes, I do. But it is so boring to lay in bed if you have an on/off switch. I can see with a “dimmer switch” that comes on slowly, laying in bed would be a lovely way to wake up.

  3. Lisa O'Brien October 9, 2018

    I, like Tish, do indeed wake up slowly. Days that I do not have to set an alarm are my favorite. Days that I do have to set an alarm (most of them), I intentionally set it early enough that I can snooze at least once without dire consequences. Sunday mornings are the hardest. I think it is because subconsciously I know that I will not get in trouble if I’m late to church, certainly not in this African context, at least. I could blame my children for our lateness to the service, but 9 times out of 10, it’s me.
    I love the line where she says, “God, in delight and wisdom, has made, named, and blessed this average day.” I love it because she includes both delight & wisdom. God delights in this particular day. And He wisely created and blessed it. It might be completely ordinary to me (or full of horror or eve celebrations), but it is specific and intentional to my God. I want to remember that when I wake up…maybe before the snooze goes off.
    Additionally, I love the quote by Hitchcock concerning movies being “life with the dull bits cut out,” and the comparison to how we view our own lives. And even more, Tish’s challenge to “accept the circumstances we constantly find ourselves in as the place of God’s kingdom and blessing.” We know it in our heads, but do we live like we are aware that God is intimately involved in the details of our lives? I mean, isn’t that why we pray about things like our internet constantly going in and out, the weather for a scheduled outdoor activity for just a few people, and the child that is having nightmares? They are all “small” and “routine” aspects of our daily lives that God is able to use to reflect is glory.
    As Amy and others have said, that last line “how I spend this ordinary day in Christ is how I will spend my Christian life” caught my attention. I see it as both beautiful and convicting at the same time. Are my ordinary days reflecting how I want to spend my life?

    1. Amy Young October 11, 2018

      I love that you have teased out delight and wisdom, Lisa. Our ordinary days are not simply to be endured as we move towards “the good stuff” — they are looked at by God with wisdom and delight. I love this!!!!

      1. Lisa O'Brien October 11, 2018

        Exactly! Too often we have the mindset of enduring the days. “I’ve gotta get through this…” I want to put on God’s perspective, and look for what He is delighting in and how he wisely orchestrated the day.

  4. Bayta Schwarz October 9, 2018

    Definitely no on/off switch for me! One thing people learn about me very quickly is that it’s best not to try and talk to me until I’ve had some coffee 🙂
    Maybe the thought that stuck with me the most (from chapter 1) comes fairly early on:”Whether we’re children or heads of state, we sit in our pyjamas for a moment, yawning, with messy hair and bad breath, unproductive, groping toward the day. Soon we’ll get buttoned up into our identities”. And it’s into this rather unimpressive state that the word “beloved” is spoken.
    I’m really enjoying this book and glad we’re not rushing through it!

    1. Shelly October 10, 2018

      I noticed that reference, too. It got me thinking about Jesus waking up. Did he need a morning cup of Joe, or jump out of bed? Were there mornings like Amy’s recently when He “overslept” because he simply needed the physical rest? If so with him, then of course with me!

      1. Bayta Schwarz October 11, 2018

        Don’t you wish sometimes, there were more of those details in the Bible? 🙂 How did being “fully human” play out in Jesus’ life? We get glimpses, for sure, but it’s so easy to miss those.

      2. amy young October 11, 2018

        Fun to think about . . . and to take a moment and see the humanity of Christ. And he probably did oversleep . . . at least a few times, right?!

  5. Spring October 9, 2018

    I wake up foggy. I don’t often set an alarm but I feel tired when I wake up. I wish I didn’t. I do my devotions and prayer from my bed. It seems otherwise I will get interrupted. Then I get out of bed.

    I haven’t tried to wake up and think I am beloved but it seems like a life-changing thing to do. Once I wrote “Love is patient” on my mirror. That small reminder helped me for weeks!

    I think my favorite line from chapter one is “there is no task too small or too routine to reflect God’s glory and worth. That is motivating for me. I don’t need to decide the value of the “everyday” that I do. It is decided. It can be holy.

  6. Lindsey October 10, 2018

    I am His beloved… we cannot escape this truth and so let it resonate on our hearts every morning before we start “accomplishing things for the Lord” thinking of myself as beloved… keeps my mind firmly planted in His grace. Tish says, “grace is a mystery and the joyful scandal of the universe….” how easily I forget when I hit the ground running with screaming kids and diarrhea diapers. We need that daily beginning reminder— to keep our souls diligently.
    I love also how she talks about her friend who was so daring and bold to move to Calcutta, and the friend often ends up doing the same ordinary stuff there— like he did back home. I laughed because I felt the same way as her friend, and then I moved here, and I was a bit disappointed, because I came to find I was living the same ordinary life, just in some different circumstances then before. But she reminds us— that God created the ordinary everyday, and called it blessed- and purposeful… so Lord, please give me the vision to embrace this truth.
    The few days I woke up calling myself beloved, I felt the cocoon of my blanket and I felt an extraordinary peace… a peace that passes understanding. Another feeling too—one of approval— that He loved me, unconditional deep abiding love… he saw me in all the mess of the morning- and yet He loves me so deeply. I started the day with His approval, not trying to grasp for everyone elses around me…

    1. Amy Young October 11, 2018

      Approval.

      So powerful. Lindsey, let’s spur each other on in naming our belovedness at the start of each day!

  7. Spring October 10, 2018

    My kids feel like they have outgrown veggie tales. I happened to be thinking about them today. I was reminded of my favorite veggie tales song. Of course the song has a lot to do with waking up beloved. I am not sure I can post a link to a youtube video here but I will post the lyrics. y Day
    As sung by: Junior Asparagus

    Intro
    In my bed I start to pray
    And tell God all about my day

    Verse 1
    I woke up in my little bed
    And put my hat upon my head
    Cleaned my room
    And cleared my dishes
    Told mom breakfast was delicious
    I went to school, learned something new
    And tried to follow every rule
    I studied my vocabulary
    Had some fun with Bob and Larry

    Chorus
    And so its good to know
    How much you love me
    Its true, the bible says you do
    You really love me
    Your love was with me all throughout my day

    Verse 2
    I somehow overlooked my bed
    It seems my dog is underfed
    Forgot to change my underclothes
    Watched one too many T.V. shows
    I had some trouble sharing toys
    And during rest time, made some noise
    The walls are not for coloring
    Sometimes Im off-key, when I sing

    Chorus 2
    And so its really good to know
    How much you love me
    Its true, the bible says you do
    You really love me
    Your love was with me all throughout my day

    Ending
    In my bed so quietly
    I rest in knowing: God loves me!

    Really listening to it is better (for me). Me being beloved isn’t based on my performance. (Oh thank you, Jesus!!) Sorry for posting twice, I just thought of this today. I hope it comforts someone else.

    1. Rachel Kahindi October 11, 2018

      Which video is this song from? I don’t think I’ve heard it before…

      1. Karen October 12, 2018

        I love the words to this song! Somehow haven’t seen this Veggie Tales. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Paulette October 12, 2018

    I definitely have an off/on switch, although the “morning on” works much better than the “evening off” position! Totally agree with you, Amy, about not wanting to stay in bed after the switch is on. Time to get on with the adventure of today!
    What an insightful observation Tish made about how Jesus hadn’t done anything impressive or noteworthy on earth that would prompt God the Father to call Him Beloved. I certainly need regular reminders that my position as a beloved daughter of God, accepted in THE Beloved, is completely unrelated to what I do or how well I do it.

    How is it that the subtle, misguided desire to prove we are love-worthy servants of Jesus so easily supplants our hearts’ true desire to serve the Worthy One out of love?

    “We are marked from our first waking moment by an identity that is deeper and more real than any other identity we will don that day.” Wow. Good stuff.

    The foreword was excellent too; especially the part about the “stubborn Christian heresy” of the division between the secular and sacred. Just this week, in talking with a family member about life and goals and challenges, I was shocked to hear how much he admired my life and work, “because, you know, an M – that’s another level” (of spirituality and following Christ). I had to be careful not to blow off his kind and encouraging words, and, in a loving, non-argumentative way, use the most convincing words possible to try to explain that different levels don’t exist, and that the way this family member is serving Jesus is just as valid and spiritual.

    Is that a mindset that anyone else out there has run into, whether in your host or home culture? How do you explain to well-meaning people who want to put crosscultural workers on a pedestal that if they are serving Jesus out of love, their place and lifestyle and work is just as spiritual and valuable to the kingdom as yours?

    1. Amy Young October 14, 2018

      Paulette! So lovely to read your thoughts and know that I”m not the only one with an on/off switch!!! You’re not alone with running into family or friends or strangers that can put Ms on a pedestal and think that what we do is “better” or “closer to God” than what “regular” believers do. I’m glad you noticed it and even pushed back on it a bit — if for no other reason than to not let that thinking take root in us (so easy for it to happen!). I look forward to reading other chapters together!

  9. Karen October 12, 2018

    I was struck by the comment that we often “work to build [our own] blessedness, to strive for a self-made belovedness.” I so often realize that underneath the things I’m doing, the motivation is to make myself look good, to myself, or to others, and need to be reminded that I can do these things, instead, for His glory. I also love the line, “Grace is a mystery and the joyful scandal of the universe.”

  10. Kiera Duncan October 13, 2018

    A couple years ago, this same insight jumped out to me about Jesus – he is declared beloved before he has done anything. And Amy, yes, I have actually tried the same thing you mentioned – focusing my thoughts on being beloved as soon as I wake up…..to be honest, it didn’t last long. But the insight and truth of the Word did. In a similar vein, I was recently thinking about my days – a good part of which involves looking after my almost 1 year old and another little boy who is 18 months old. It is the stage of playing with the same toys over and over again, in the same ways day after day and yet the boys are continually delighted with those same games, same songs and rhymes, same circuit of activities. I read a verse then in Isaiah which encouraged me – Is. 12:6 which says, “Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” Now a Biblical scholar might take issue with me applying this to myself, but the thought of the Holy One of Israel being “in your midst,” there with me in the moment-to-moment of the day was very encouraging. It imbued the humdrum with new meaning…which is what I think this book is doing as well. 🙂

  11. Felicity Congdon October 14, 2018

    I have been thinking on this chapter here and there through the week, and have enjoyed reading everyone’s comments.

    I didn’t think I struggled to believe God’s love for me until I tried this exercise of waking up and reminding myself of my beloved-ness. Honestly, it’s been a hard exercise! I think it’s because I’m in a difficult season of culture stress and I’m just tired. I’m longing for our first home ministry assignment, which is still 10 months away. I’m not in a good place emotionally. I’m worn out from parenting in a cross cultural context. I’m worn out from language learning, and disappointed that I still do not having a good grasp of the language even after four years of studying. The culture really is pushing my buttons lately.

    It is really difficult for me to just dwell in God’s love for me because I feel like there ARE things that are required of me. I know this is a season where I really need to do that BECAUSE I don’t feel it is true. I feel the demands of life are stronger than God’s call to just be his beloved child.

    Tish quotes Dallas Willard, “First we must accept the circumstances we constantly find ourselves in as the place of God’s Kingdom and blessing. God has yet to bless anyone except where they actually are.” And she goes on to say that Jesus knew I would be in this day, with my particular sins and struggles. So, I am asking, really God, you can bless me here? You can bring your Kingdom to this place? To me? To my family even if we can’t meet the expectations of this culture? Can I just say no to everything and just sit with the Lord long enough that that knowledge of belovedness will carry me throughout this day? How long will that take? Because it feels like it will take longer than I have available to me.

  12. Suzanne October 15, 2018

    I’m hopeless in the mornings – two alarms each with snooze buttons hit several times and coffee all feature. And to think that even then, God calls us ‘beloved’.

    This past weekend I have been part of a ladies retreat here in a city I am visiting in Asia, and us being God’s beloved was a theme. Neat to come here and be reminded of this theme again. (I listened to the chapter in an audiobook a couple of weeks ago – maybe I will listen again tonight.)

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.