Hi friends and welcome to the Arise, Beloved blog. We have an amazing team of writers behind this blog and our desire is to speak truth into the lies that cripple us and shine light into the darkness that isolates us because we believe that now, more than ever, the Church desperately needs women to be restored so that the world can be set ablaze. Our hope is that you find comfort, solace, and peace in knowing that you are not alone, you are not too far gone and there is ALWAYS hope to be found.
// Megan Byers //
There is room for you at this table.
Last spring I was on a women’s retreat. The content of the retreat was very basic. We were reminded of our identity as beloved daughters of God. We heard of our beauty and how we are known and pursued by the Lord. The priest told a transformative story about being welcomed as we sat outside for Mass. While looking out at the lake and budding trees, he said, “there is room for you at this table.” At the time, I wasn’t deeply impacted by what he said, but I haven’t forgotten those words.
I am very competitive, but I don’t like to admit it. Competitive isn’t a word I would use to describe myself and I wasn’t aware that other people thought this of me until college. I retold the events of a game night to my mom during a weekend trip home. While explaining that I sat out after a few rounds because my fitbit heart rate reading was super high, my mom said “yeah, because you are competitive.” I reacted defensively, denying what I knew deep down to be true. In my mind, competitive people were prideful and self-righteous. They found their worth through winning, that wasn’t me, was it?
Being competitive is an area of my life that I avoid bringing to the Lord, I hide this piece of myself from an all-knowing God. As the Lord stretches me and forms me and purifies me, I forget about this fault of mine.
I am competitive. I am prideful. I am self-righteous. I find my worth in winning, in titles, in achievements, in success. Writing this is really painful. Admitting that I have room to grow makes me feel defeated. I’m tired of growth because growth is painful. Changing my mindset is hard and messy and time-consuming. My competitive heart would prefer to share how I already overcame this fault. My competitive mind sees this as something else to accomplish, another game to win. Lucky for me St. Paul talks about competing in 1 Corinthians 9: 24-25:
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable crown, we an imperishable [crown].”
It’s like I checked out after reading “so run that you may obtain it” and missed out on the wisdom of St. Paul. I ran around trying to be the one that received the prize, without realizing I was winning a perishable crown. I just want to highlight what perishable means: “likely to decay or go bad quickly;” whereas the definition of imperishable is: “enduring forever.” Notice that imperishable doesn’t mean “will go bad eventually, just not as quickly as the perishable one.” No, it will endure forever. It will be just as brilliant and beautiful as the day you received it.
I live my life like an athlete. I want the prize. I want to be the winner. I live in pursuit of a perishable crown. When I think of the years I spent chasing after crowns that will decay, I get a little discouraged. It feels like I lost out on something better, something more: the imperishable crown. But a quiet voice from within says, “fear not, there is room for you at this table.” A voice, rich in mercy, longs to give me an imperishable crown: a seat at the Eternal Wedding Banquet.
My seat at the table will not be frantically pulled together last minute. My seat isn’t a chair shoved into a crowded table. I will not need to race to get to the chair first. I don’t have to compete with someone and win a space at the table. My seat has my name on the place card, all the forks and spoons and cups are there, it was intentionally prepared for me, with love and thought and time.
I’m ashamed that I believed I needed to win to be loved. I have come to recognize how this mindset has wounded me. I wanted to win so that other people would find me impressive. Being a beloved daughter of God wasn’t enough, I needed everyone to like me, and if I was impressive, they would.
In the brief explanation of the daily readings that the Magnificat provides, I found this treasure:
“…Christ loves us because of who he is, not because of what we do. We do not earn Christ’s love by proving our own goodness, nor do we lessen his love with our failures.”
I don’t need to achieve to be loved by Jesus. I don’t need to earn his love. I have nothing to prove. I cannot lose his love. By living from my identity as a daughter, and accepting the Lord’s mercy when I fail, I will receive an imperishable crown.
“From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance.”
2 Timothy 4:8
I still feel a rush of adrenaline when I’m playing a board game and there is a part of me that gets disappointed when I lose, but that’s not who I am. I am not a loser. I feel like that should go without being said, but even writing out these words I feel lighter, I feel free. Again and again Jesus speaks those words of welcome to me, “there is room for you at this table,” and I surrender my competitive mindset. Sister, there is room for you at this table. Your seat at the table isn’t a frantic addition to a crowded table. Your seat does not need to be won or earned. Your seat is marked by your name. Your seat at the table was intentionally prepared for you, with love and thought, and time. You have not lost out on the imperishable crown. There is room for you at His table.