By Abby Wilhelm, art by Justin Hall
The hardest person to convince of anything is often yourself. Believing that someone else is loved and whole is not difficult; rewriting your own internal dialogue is far more challenging.
Changing “I will never be loved” to “I am loved endlessly by my Father in heaven” or “I am too broken to share anything” to “I am in process. God is making me whole and many will benefit from the journey” can seem like an impossible task. How do we even begin?
In the book of Matthew, Jesus uses parables to illustrate the core principle at stake:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:45-46, NKJV).
The kingdom of heaven is doing the finding. Our directive is not to go find something, but to be found.
In case we missed the idea, Jesus makes it even more clear by essentially repeating Himself: “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away.” (Matthew 13:47-48, NIV).
This is not a separate idea; it adds depth and breadth to the former story. Jesus is communicating is chosenness, not a challenge. Whether found or caught, the impetus for action is with the kingdom of heaven, not with the pearl or the fish.
But what about the fish that get thrown back into the sea? The choosing of one does not mean the rejection of another. Instead it gives opportunity for those who know they’ve been found and caught to share it with those who have yet to be entangled in that idea.
We begin to change the narrative by grasping, or rather, being grasped by the desire God has and the value He sees in each of us. As Henri Nouwen puts it: “It is a lifelong struggle to claim that chosenness, but it is also a lifelong joy.”
Where does that leave things? Like this:
You are loved endlessly by your Father in heaven.
You are in process. God is making you whole and your journey will benefit many.
Abby Wilhelm is a Chaplain Candidate Programs Officer in the Navy and Administrative Assistant to Bill Clem & Women's Formation at Imago Dei.