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by Jessica DeBolt on November 17, 2018

“How would you respond if I asked you this question: “Do you honestly believe God likes you, not just loves you because theologically God has to love you?” If you could answer with gut-level honesty, “Oh, yes, my Abba is very fond of me,” you would experience a serene compassion for yourself that approximates the meaning of tenderness.” 
- Brennan Manning

Serene compassion for ourselves is accompanied with the freedom to be fully ourselves in Abba. To know we are loved and to know that He is fond of us gives the understanding that who we are, our pure existence, brings a tender smile to our creator.

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of leading worship alongside Jamie Robison for a women’s event. I’ve only officially been here for two months, and believe me when I say, it’s been wild. When asked to help with worship for this event, I couldn’t help but place these unrealistic expectations on myself leading up to the night of. I was entirely caught up with the technical side of it all—memorizing my parts, not forgetting when to come in and sing (that happens way too often for me). I lost sight of the real reason I was doing this: for Him.

The event had finally started and I felt so jittery that I thought I was going to run off the stage. When we began to sing, a picture came to mind and my existence in the room grew very still. The picture was of the Father sitting in the center of the room, just smiling and watching us sing. It was as though I could feel His excitement and tender love for us all. Instantly my insecurities shut down and I was fully immersed with the idea that I was in a room alone with Abba; and whether I forgot to come in on time or I accidentally sang the wrong note, He was looking right at me, cheering me on.

I felt completely loved.

When we know how fond our Father is of us, we live differently—we speak differently, we love differently, and we then become utterly focused on bringing His kingdom here on earth. What joy that must bring Him.

I believe that Brennan Manning is really onto something when he expresses the meaning of tenderness that we would feel if we knew God was fond of us. The deep, deep truth here is that, in this understanding, we learn who we are simply as Abba’s children.

We learn that the true meaning of our identity is not found in what we do or in who we think we are, but solely in Him.

This past week I had the opportunity for the first time to help out in the Jr. High Sunday service. I arrived shyly, keeping close to the one person I knew and hoped no one else noticed my nerves or my awkwardness. This young girl approached me with no hesitation and with the loudest voice exclaimed, “WHO ARE YOU?” Completely caught off guard, I stuttered and froze for what seemed like forever and finally responded, “Uh, umm…I’m Jessica.” She continued to shout, “I’m the fastest runner! Do you want to race me? I’m sure I can beat you!” She proceeded to beg the girl beside me, “Tell her, tell her what a fast runner I am!” After hearing her tell me how fast she was and challenging me to yet another race, she ended the conversation with, “Can we be friends!?” I nodded with a great smile and said, “Of course!”

I admired her. Why? Because whether she knew it or not, she was walking in identity. But her identity was not found in her being the world’s fastest runner. No, her identity was found in being a child so deeply loved by her Creator that then enabled her to be free and fearless.

Her question, “who are you” completely caught me off guard because I noticed how quickly I wanted to respond with, “I’m a wife, I’m a worship leader, I’m...somebody.” But in that moment, I felt the Lord say to me, “You are my child in whom I am well pleased.” No title needed.

“The inner child is aware of his feelings and uninhibited in their expression; the Pharisee edits feelings and makes stereotyped response to life situations. On Jacqueline Kennedy’s first visit to the Vatican, Pope John XXIII asked his secretary of state, Giuseppi Cardinal Montini, what was the proper way to greet the visiting dignitary, wife of the U.S. President. Montini replied, “It would be proper to say ‘madame’ or Mrs. Kennedy.” The secretary left and a few minutes later, the first lady stood in the doorway. The pope’s eyes lit up. He trundled over, threw his arms around her, and cried, “Jacqueline!” - Brennan Manning

Above every other thing—above your title at work, your title as a parent, your title as a brother or a sister, a son or a daughter, a grandma or a grandpa—you are beloved. You are chosen by God; Abba’s child and He is fond of you. And that of course, is enough.

He is fond of you. And that of course, is enough.

His love enables you to bring tenderness to those around you and to yourself. No title needed.

Thank you for reading, and for receiving me into your community! 

Jess Debolt 

Tags: abba, compassion, devotion, father, freedom, identity, relationship

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