"... in times of stress and change...You are going to require extra TLC. And the way you grow and thrive is different from anyone else, so it's up to you to know what you need. No one else can do it for you." Holley Gerth, You're Going To Be Okay

I had a hard time typing the title of today's post.

The {Beloved} needs TLC.

Hmm... I would have finished that sentence differently if I wanted to write about something easier. I could probably write volumes on this title instead -- The {Beloved} needs to care for others.

Maybe that's why the word {Beloved} both draws me and also feels awkward at the same time.  

I'm more at ease seeing myself as God's servant rather than living as His beloved.

Yet, the journey of the soul I've traveling through puts me on a path of change: a major identity shift. Be. Loved. {Be the Beloved}

ABC For the Soul

In order to heal and give myself permission to be me, I'm learning something as basic as the ABC.

ABC for the soul.

I'm starting from scratch.

I'm learning to give myself something I missed somewhere along the way, in my story.

I need TLC.

TLC.  It sure doesn't sound very spiritual to me.

Really, God?

Doesn't this sound kinda immature?  Like I'm a kid?  Unable to do "grown up things"?

TLC, huh?

Can you give me some verification here on this message?  I prayed.

What if this is just me imagining things -- because I'm selfish and just want to be pampered?

These are the quiet questions I've been asking God -- in the privacy of my heart -- as I see myself grow stronger with each movement I take as The Beloved.

Holding My Breath

You see, I'm afraid of changing the way I've always done life. It's always been good to double-check to make sure what I'm doing is approved by others.

And if others are not happy, I find it very hard to give myself permission to be happy.

It's like I'm always holding my breath, not sure if it's totally okay.

Because, well, I'm pretty un-perfect.

If everyone else is taken care of -- if I don't draw too much attention or need too much -- then I'll be content with the left overs.

Don't get me wrong, I am not a martyr.

But this is how joy's felt "right" to me.

It's conditional, dependent on how everyone else is doing around me.

A Big Change

The truth is -- these people I'm talking about isn't my husband or the close friends who've encouraged and cheered for me along the way.

This way of thinking about joy is the way I've survived in the past.  Growing up as a child.

That was the type of home I grew up in.

And so, it's time for a change.

A big one.

I'm not very sure about this new way, friends.

What if people don't like this new, happy version of me?

I find myself fighting feelings of guilt.

But, the other night, I had an ah-ha moment.

Ah-ha Moment

Hubby and I were both in bed doing our relaxing reading before lights out. I was reading a parenting book while he was reading the news.

"Hey, honey.  Listen to this.... This is SO interesting ... "

Then, I attempted to read him an excerpt.

"Just a little bit, 'k?  I promise, it won't be long."  I try to get Eric interested, but he looks like he ate a bad egg.

"Honey, I've had a long day today.  Can you tell me tomorrow?  I don't want to get all stressed out thinking about parenting stuff right now before bed."  He looks pleadingly at me... to let him off the hook.

"No worries..."  I smile.

As I turn back to my book, it dawns on me. Eric de-stresses by reading the news.  

That's the last thing I'd want to read before bed. And my ah-ha moment comes.

I like reading about parenting.  It doesn't stress me out.

Why?

I make a connection.

I don't think I was ever really parented.

I parented myself, you know what I mean?

So, I'm fascinated to learn. To wrestle and think through how I want to parent my boys. The way I would've wanted to be parented.

And I realize, one of the biggest things I can do for myself -- is to allow God to parent me now.

With TLC.

TLC

My Loving Abba Father sees me as His Beloved.

My Loving Abba Father is loving me back to life with TLC. Especially in the midst of stress. When I feel least deserving.

What does TLC feel like to me?

If I believe God loves me --  not just in my head, but in my heart -- how can I allow God to love me through my real everyday actions?

What changes can I make to experience God's TLC -- with the same interest and passion I use to parent Josh and Caleb with TLC?

February has been the month of love -- and I've been making changes to let God's TLC into my life.

This TLC journey is taking me into unchartered territory, filled with excitement and joy, as well as fear and doubt.

I'm learning mixed feelings is part of the journey.

Because true love from God's heart is mysterious, unbelievable, dizzyingly too-good-to-be-true-and-yet-it-is-true goodness I've never known.

It takes faith to walk up close to God with the innocence of a child.

It takes faith to receive TLC.

It takes faith to {be loved}.

"Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he?

Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" Luke 11:11

"Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." James1:17

What Do You Need Most Right Now?

One morning, almost two years ago, I confided in my friend Holley Gerth about about my panic attacks, "Holley, I'm scared. I don't want to be the PTSD girl...".  I'll always remember the words she spoke into the phone that tear-choked morning, "Bonnie. PTSD isn't who you are. It's just where you are right now."

It changed my whole perspective on this journey I'm on.  Her words gave me courage to believe what I knew in my head, but was too afraid to believe in my heart.

I need TLC for the journey.

Even now, as I've recovered, being in touch with what I need -- each time I offer myself the TLC God wants to give me -- is helping me become the Beloved.

What about you -- what do you need most right now?

~~~~~

Let's share. You are {The Beloved}. What do you need most right now?

Pull up a chair. I'd love to hear your thoughts.  

~~~~~

{ Today’s post is part of Bonnie Gray's {Beloved} series, where becoming #thebeloved is the conversation. Click here for the entire {Beloved} series. }

Written by Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista, author of upcoming book release Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest. (Revell Books. Release date: June 3, 2014.)   

Finding Spiritual Whitespace guides readers on a journey to create space in life to slow down, feed their souls, draw closer to God and enjoy rest.  Through heart-breaking honesty and practical insight, Bonnie chronicles her personal search through overwhelming anxiety and stress to find beauty in brokenness, discovering a more restful life, right in the midst of the stress-frayed stories in every season of life. 

Bonnie Gray is the soulful writer behind FaithBarista.com serving up shots of faith for the daily grind.  She is a contributor at DaySpring (in)courage and her writing has been spotighted by Christianity Today and nationally syndicated through McClatchy-Tribune News Services. After graduating from UCLA, Bonnie served as a missionary, ministry entrepreneur, and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Eric, and their two sons.

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Photo credit: irinaloveangel via Photobucket.