Experiencing the Beloved

Experiencing the Beloved

I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.  ~ Song of Songs 6:3

When I planned my wedding, I didn’t want to use the ordinary Bible verses that everyone else uses for their weddings.  I wanted something different, something daring, so I went to the Song of Songs and found the above verse.  During our wedding ceremony, we each read something from Song of Songs.  Not the “your breasts are like two fawns” kind of thing, but the sweet treasuring of each other found in this book.  Despite my desire to be different and radical, I believed my husband truly was my Beloved and I was his.

After 36 years of marriage, the beloved part has been tried and tried repeatedly, over and over again.  Sometimes the love has been stretched so taunt that it has threatened to break.  There has been much in the way of disappointments, disasters, and trials.  But there have also been sweet shared moments, and a communication between the two of us that seems otherworldly.

It is no wonder that many people believe The Song of Songs, telling the story of a bride and her groom, is representing the relationship between God and his people: God as the groom and the Church is his bride.

The Song of Songs is not a difficult read.  Actually, it can be quite delightful.  The poetry is imaginative and expressive.  The word pictures are sweet and inventive, as the young couple speak of their relationship so openly.

The difficulty comes in reading the sensuality and the sexual references, and in turn attributing them to my relationship with God or Jesus.  As hard as I try, the comparison is awkward and uncomfortable.

I know God as my Father.  I see Jesus as my Savior and Friend.  I sense the Holy Spirit as my Comforter.  But lover…um…awkward.

Some of the mystics from long ago wrote about this kind of relationship with Jesus.  They are labeled the Bridal Mystics, and I’ve read some of their writings.  But while they are interesting, again, I confess, I squirm a little.

The question for me is how do I see God as my Beloved in the way of The Song of Songs?

Not wanting to miss out on anything that will help me in my relationship with God, I thought a little bit of experimentation would be in order.

So I challenged myself to spend a couple of days imagining God as my lover, the Beloved.  I entered this with some preconceived expectations. I anticipated my lover to say nice things about me, maybe give me little gifts (a.k.a. answer some long-standing prayers), and /or spend time with me. I envisioned a hand on my back, a sweet caress on my face, the lover’s kiss.  All the things I feel a lover would do and be for me.  I asked my Beloved to be obvious in making known to me the ways in which I could recognize his love for me.

I’d love to share with you the incredible ways in which God demonstrated his role as my lover.  But the time spent in this little exercise wasn’t exactly how I envisioned.  I did not experience the sexuality of The Song of Signs.  I don’t know if I’m more disappointed or… simply relieved.

What I found out was more like the stanza from the song by Joni Mitchel called Both Sides. 

I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all

Being loved by God is not really different than being loved by anyone.  Most of the time it’s pretty daily.  There are moments of great joy and wonderful feelings, but most of the time it’s just plain living and managing life.  I want God, my Beloved, to answer my prayers, to save me from pain and discomfort, and to let me be happy all the time.  But, seriously, is that love?

God has expressed his love for me by having died for me.  Simple as that.

And he has made promises to me: He promises to be stay with me.  He wants good for me.  He will meet my needs.  He has made a home for me in his kingdom.

Maybe I can’t see God as my lover as the Bridal Mystics or The Song of Songs way.  However, I sensed what I need is to grow to the same level of love and trust in my Beloved as Corrie Ten Boom, Elizabeth Elliot, George Mueller, Julian of Norwich and countless other people who have expressed their love relationship with God despite their often less than ideal circumstances.  Not that I need to experience the same things they did, for I have my own troubles, disappointments, and hard places, but with each of these people their faith became mightier and mightier as the difficulties of their situations came to a fevered pitch.

Corrie Ten Boom could say: “You can never learn that Christ is all you need, until Christ is all you have.”

Or Elizabeth Elliot: “You are loved with an everlasting love. And underneath are the everlasting arms.”

George Mueller: “If the Lord fails me at this time, it will be the first time.”

And Julian of Norwich: “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing, shall be well.”

These saints of the past encourage me to see God as my Beloved.  The steady, daily belief of how God loves me through what he has promised me. Being loved by God can have moments of ecstasy, but mostly it is the sense of him being present and with me through all aspects of life: the good, the bad and the mundane.

But in faith, I can say,

“I am my Beloved, and my Beloved is mine.”

 

Grace & Such strives to advance Christian growth among women. While we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, we also recognize human interpretations are imperfect. Grace & Such encourages our readers to open their Bibles, pray for wisdom and study for themselves what the Word says. For more about who we are, please visit the About Us page.
Rebecca Montie Preston
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Rebecca Montie Preston

Becky is a Spiritual Director from southeastern Pennsylvania.Her other roles include wife, mother of two, and grandmother of six.She has her MA from Biblical Theological Seminary, and studied at Renovare Institute for Spiritual Formation and Kairos School for Spiritual Direction.
Rebecca Montie Preston
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7 thoughts on “Experiencing the Beloved

  1. Ruth

    Becky,
    Love this! And after so many discussions in the topic, I can really identity with where you have landed. It’s the daily joy of being loved, not out of obligation, but commitment. That steady and relentless sacrificial love He has for me…if only I could live back reciprocally….

    Reply

    1. Rebecca Preston

      I know. Perhaps the mystical sexuality is too much, but the simple love of his presence is something we can tangibly experience.

      Reply

  2. Diane

    “God has expressed his love for me by having died for me. Simple as that. And he has made promises to me: He promises to be stay with me. He wants good for me. He will meet my needs. He has made a home for me in his kingdom.” I’m with you about envisioning God being the lover that I imagine here on earth rather than, as you describe it, what he’s always promised to be each day. Thanks for the deeper perspective. Something, as always from you, to ponder!

    Reply

    1. Rebecca Preston

      Thanks, Diane. Experiencing his love through his gift of salvation is the best starting place. Some day, maybe, the Song of Songs way will become a real thing….again, not sure if I want that or not… 🙂

      Reply

  3. Gretchen Hanna

    Sure do love this post, Becky. When we’re in heaven, I know we’ll get new bodies, and relationships with God and each other will be perfect. I wonder if one of the reasons this sexualized and sensual language is used because that type of pure ecstasy is the closest we can get on earth to really feeling God’s love for us. But I don’t know. Thank you for making me think.

    Reply

    1. Rebecca Preston

      That’s a thought. I think some of the mystics experienced this ecstasy, and maybe the expression of it could only be described in sexual terms…

      Reply

  4. Tara Watson

    My husband and I have been married for 21 years and I’ve come to appreciate the small daily ways that he shows his love to me. Warming up and scraping off my car on a cold wintry day. Saying he loves me before he leaves the house every single time. Washing the protein shake container after he uses it so it’s clean for me when I wake up in the morning. Small daily acts that stem from a great love and respect we have for each other.
    This post reminds me that Gods love is constant, steady and ever present. And that I need to slow down and appreciate the smallest God winks in my life while remembering the grandest gesture of his love for me, the sacrifice of His only son. Thank you Becky.

    Reply

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