Recently, I heard these words: you are a human BEING. Not a human doing.This stuck with me, because I so often attach my worth and identity to the things I do. I consider myself a musician, a student, a writer, et cetera, and present myself as such. However, these types of labels can become exhausting and limiting. I am striving to identify myself foremost as a beloved child of God. Inherently & unconditionally loved. I really like the lyrics of the song “Good Father” — I’m loved by You…it’s who I am. Indeed, we are literally defined by the love He has declared for us. His love is neither evaluative nor transactional, which is very freeing. I know I’m deeply flawed, but grace is so radical, so redemptive. Sometimes I remind myself: just be, you’re loved. And accepting that love is the key to then turning outward and being able to extend love. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

I think sometimes as ambitious people, we get caught up in our strivings. It can be easier to just keep going, doing, working. It is unfortunately easy to be convinced that your value is in what you can produce. To grow accustomed with living as though under continual scrutiny, and having a merit-based, competitive mindset. Over time, I began to define myself by my conquests and endeavors. I realized that I give myself these milestones. I feel like once I achieve xyz, I will in some way be a more generally worthy person. But I want to dismantle that, I want to internalize the fact that I’m already defined and affirmed by His love.

I read the words God has declared about His love for me; I see the manifestations every day. And still yet, it can be difficult to accept. As humans, we naturally resort to transactional, rational, quantifiable. Grace disrupts all of that. I’m still learning to trust that He loves me, and wants the best for me. He’s always pursuing my heart. Sometimes in grand, awe-inspiring ways; sometimes in small, quiet moments. And I think there’s immeasurable value in accepting what He has declared about me. Although it doesn’t add up…after all, what do we truly have to offer Him? Somehow He is pleased by our offerings, by a heart full of gratitude and love returned sincerely.

His love is an anchor. I realized that if I allow my actions to dictate my identity, I’ll be perpetually unsettled. It leads to either pride, when success abounds, or self-deprecation, when failure arrives. After singing in some sort of performance, I’m either soaring or sinking. It’s always an extreme, because my worth in that isolated context is indeed defined by my performance. I can be known to really get down on myself if I’m unhappy with a performance. I think that’s very telling. And I’m so grateful that God’s love doesn’t operate like that. I’m striving to make love the lens through which I interpret all events of my life, and my perception of myself. Left to our own devices, things become terribly distorted. Being secure in His love sets me free to live more courageously. I don’t have to be anxious, knowing that He is walking with me, accepting me, and working things for my good.

Believing that you are beloved transforms everything. As 1 John reminds, our love is a natural response to the love He is continually pouring out. We’re called to accept His love in full, and believe that we’re worthy simply because He chose us. His unmerited love and favor are so liberating. We have nothing to hide, nothing to earn. I don’t think love is blind…He sees us fully, and loves all the more. I think that is our deepest longing: to be fully known and fully loved. And that’s exactly what He offers. Beyond GPA, beyond salary, beyond accolades of any sort. How restful and freeing. He loves you, not for what you do, but for who you are.

Tyné Freeman