Local pastor Nikki Cooley reminds us we are children of God.

Think of five adjectives that describe yourself. How has that list changed over the last year? The pandemic has changed how many of us see and interact with the world, and most especially with other people.

Depression and anxiety have increased dramatically, and even strong introverts need human interaction. The toll on our well-being and the way we view ourselves has changed.

As I completed this exercise recently, I noticed how my list has changed and I am not fond of the differences. The words “exhausted” and “anxious” have crept onto my list of descriptors and I judge myself poorly for it.

If you and I went for a walk you might hear me say something like, “show yourself some grace” or “be gentle with yourself.” I find myself able to share those things I believe with others while withholding them from myself.

The sermonette that you might hear would come from deep within and be one of the building blocks of my faith. It is something we all, myself included, need to hear over and over again.

You are a beloved child of God. Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you’ve done, God loves you. In fact, God loves you so much that Jesus died for you, and if you were the only person on the planet, Jesus would do it again, for you.

God looked at the world and decided it needed trees and manatees, mountains, oceans and you. Your first name is “child of God.” You are beloved in a greater way than your brain can ever comprehend. God loves you as you are right now and nothing you do can change that. And, God loves you too much to leave you that way.

Did “child of God” show up on your list of adjectives? It was not on mine. Cue the sad face emoji. I forgot that what matters most in my life is not exhaustion or worry, it is my identity as beloved by God.

I have been working hard to keep everything running smoothly during the last year and lost track of the fact that nothing I do can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:38-39) I do not need to earn that love. Neither do you.

Show yourself some grace. Be gentle with yourself. Remember who you are and whose you are. You are loved.

The Rev. Nikki Cooley is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Liberty. The submission was written on behalf of the Liberty-Area Ministerial Alliance.

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