How Deeply Loved by God You Are

Wayne continues his conversation with Joni Menard of Edmond, Ok, as they talk about what it means to be deeply loved by the Father and how that reshapes our lives. When we reset our identity as beloved children of an awesome Father, we are no longer defined by our failures or brokenness. We no longer have to put on ill-fitting human systems, which will seem more like the old paint-by-number sets instead of learning the art of living in the world with freedom and grace. They also talk about how that transition reshapes community, both in creating safe places for people to struggle, and also not subverting community by our need for the wrong kind of attention. They also discuss the problems of insider language, or theological jargon, which actually restricts our ability to communicate, rather than enhance it.

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Previous Podcast with Joni: Is Pain A Gift?
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  1. Okay Wayne, I’m going to take you to task 🙂

    It has to do with Joni’s terminology ( and I love it Joni ) and what I have come to sense as being very important. Because I think Jesus did it all the time too. There is great value in speaking in a way that is, what you would call Wayne, difficult to understand. I agree with you that there are a lot of people who don’t have the courage to speak up and say “Hey, wait a minute. I don’t understand what you are saying.” but when someone does, I have come to find that those are the best moments of learning ever. So, if that is the case, maybe what we need to be encouraging more is that people would speak up and say “Hey, wait a minute. I don’t understand what you are saying.” instead of speaking in a way that is too easy to understand……that often really isn’t understanding.

    This is why I love poetry so much and I love listening to and reading people who use language that has an originality to it. That is how I would describe Joni’s vocabulary…unique/original…not ‘insider’ . Joni touched on the difficulties the mind shaped by Western Culture faces. One of those difficulties I became familiar with is this desire to have everything spelled out for us….and answers given. Made easy. It has created lazy minds. When I do believe God gave us all minds that are brilliant and brilliantly creative and imaginative. They’ve just been shut down by what I call crude instruction. Most of what passes as teaching/training in the Western World would fall under that for me.

    So to describe something by using a different unfamiliar term or way of saying something serves a great purpose. Speaking in a way that is wrapped in a bit mystery/the unfamiliar. Reminds me of Jesus and his parables. If we get hungry enough we will ask “Hey, wait a minute. I don’t understand what you are saying.”

    This excerpt from in interview came to mind as I was writing this. I think it applies to this. I speak of it often. Bringing some originality/ the unfamiliar/ a bit of mystery to the way we speak is a form of/an act of resistance to the crude instruction of the culture that has not served any of us very well. Christian Wiman is a poet.

    BILL MOYERS: He says this is a favorable time for poetry, when everything is against it. What do you think he means that it’s, everything is against it, therefore it’s a favorable time?

    CHRISTIAN WIMAN: Well, I think what he must mean is that everything seems to be aligned against the kind of inner life that poetry requires, against the kind of consciousness that poetry requires. And the world seems to be going faster and faster, and our attention seems to be more and more fragmented on these various, in various ways. And threatening the inner life. And what I would say is that poetry is a bulwark against these things. That I think people will realize, in the midst of all this, that they need some way of putting up resistance to it. And reading a poem can be an act of resistance, because it can be an act of individual consciousness in this onslaught of information that’s coming at us.

  2. Wayne and Joni,

    Thanks for the podcast. There was a wealth of material shared, which triggered in me a series of random thoughts…

    being a man, i know what feeds my soul is what i can do for other people, versus what i can be for other people. i can perform a kind deed and still be a total jerk, yet feel good about myself.

    what struck me in the podcast is that not only there is a insider language, but also an insider understanding. for example, having the definition of church redefined as a body of believers, not simply four walls and a roof. for example, i imagine having a conversation with a Christian friend who asks me have i been to church and saying, been to church? i am the church! and seeing his reaction to that.

    my neediness. i am conscious of it, yet still at times it rages out of control. i often consider after listening to a podcast, should i post here, having posted the last 17 weeks in a row, not realizing people may tire of listening what I have to say in my ignorance.

    the outsider-insider mentality. i have always felt like an outsider, which i wear as a badge meaning I am more special to God than you are. I am above jargon, above conformity and social norms, because I am not of the world, though I am in the world.

  3. Wayne and Joni,
    Loved the direction of both podcasts especially the contrast between a paint by number picture vs a real flowing work of art. God has always flowed more fully into my life when the numbers in my paint by number world have been stirred up, the pain is a gift thing. I am going through some difficult times with my 21year old daughter and we had a discussion not more than 20 minutes before I listened to the podcast that paralleled the painting thoughts. She has chosen a journey that is a lot less “numbered”than mine which of course is challenging my world! We discussed the painful consequences of living too numbered, as I did/do and the painful consequences she is facing by living without acknowledging that Father desires to complete the painting with her. Either way seems to leave Father out of the creative, loving process and we miss out on living all that He wants us to experience.
    And to Wayne…. Not to be snarky and maybe this is my feminine side speaking, but I wonder if you felt a little uncomfortable going as deep as Joni attempted to go? A couple of times in both podcasts I was tuned into where Joni was heading and then POOF a comment from you and we headed somewhere else. No biggie, there was still lots of great stuff and the added bonus of the feminine perspective! Thanks to you both for sharing.

  4. Kent, I love poetry too, especially its ambiguity because it forces me to think and feel a little deeper. That quote is excellent.
    Cheryl, I think you nailed it girl. I still really wish I had been more snarky. I guess I need you all there and we could all be snarky together. LOL
    Ron, I really think The God Journey and Lifestreams and a lot of ministries that I am involved with are ones that work hard at removing the “insider/outsider” trappings. Its so challenging because we love to group things and people. I think I’ve done both things that you are talking about. I guess its all part of the false self.
    I wasn’t going to listen to these, kind’ve felt like what’s the point since it was a conversation in the past. And I am over the past. LOL But I am getting lots of emails from sweet folks from all over the world. There is so much soul suffering going on and people are so hungry for these kinds of conversations. So grateful for this technology and you all responding and posting on this forum. We are the greater gathering are we not?
    Thank you all for your kind words they are very encouraging.

  5. Joni, I added that excerpt and the mention of poetry because of the point I was trying to make about ambiguity being a good thing for us. It’s not good that everything is unriddled and spelled out. We seem to need the mystery and those out of balance in-between places Richard Rohr talks about. The answers are often so inferior and tragically incomplete and if we aren’t engaged in the mystery, the unknown through the questions and through not understanding, we can so easily settle for someone else’s inferior/incomplete answers and get stuck in them and they will never coax the Divine Presence, the Incarnation alive in us. And unless it is birthed/comes alive in us it does us no good.

  6. Love that truth Kent. I do. Just today I read this from Brennan Manning. “God speaks to the deepest strata of our souls, into our self-hatred and shame, our narcissism, and takes us through the night into the daylight of his truth.” Which was a point I am not sure I was able to make. That whether you come hating yourself or thinking your the greatest thing since sliced bread (narcissism) its all false self and then the light comes through and chases out the dark.

  7. Thank you Joni. You gave me beautiful things to ponder.
    Today I am feeling very broken even though I know I am loved by my Father and have grown into a very special place with Him.
    Still, I struggle with much and have been concerned that I haven’t grown enough and am still very undone and incomplete.
    It just came to me to just give me to Him as I am right here and now and be open and freely vulnerable to Him even though I do that often, but today I am doing it coming out of deep concern for my health in every area. And I feel fear. I am not afraid of God though and yet when I feel fearful I can start to think I need to fix it and shouldn’t even be feeling this way. So here I am, not trying to fix on my own, and just presenting myself to God to take it all. He is telling me this is not mine to fix, but His, and I can let go and let Him be the one that will renew and refresh me. Here I am Father, as is, falling … into your loving embrace.

  8. Kent it is so interesting that you speak of us needing those”out of balance in-between places”.As people we try so hard to avoid those out of balance places. We like those paint by number pictures Wayne and Joni spoke of because they help us to feel safe and secure. With my daughter I am struggling because the emotional places she is forcing me to go are so uncomfortable. I want to turn and run away but because of my love for my daughter I stay engaged. I feel like I’ m learning first hand some of the things God’s been trying to show me about His love for me when I am the prodigal. It is showing me that God will be present in the “out of balance” if I will let Him fill the pain and not scramble for the easy paint by number answers. I am trying to be OK, even if I’m not comfortable, with living day by day in the unknown and to let Him reveal the answers instead of me forcing them. I know God is showing me things I would miss if I ran or held to the standard paint by number scheme. Out of balance is good for our spirit but our flesh fights against it. You are so right that answers that are not birthed in the Spirit are “inferior and tragically incomplete”. Thanks for sharing.

    • Am so enjoying and helped and encouraged by what all of you are sharing.
      His light will dispel the darkness and we will see the stunning painting He is creating on the unlined and numbered canvas of our inner beings.

  9. Cheryl, myself and my wife have been in the unpredictable out of balance in between space for several years now with our three daughter ( ages today: 23, 19, 17 ) I wouldn’t trade this space of freedom and grace, and uncertainty over the years of white knuckling it during the first 15 years of parenting trying to control it all.

    Hang in there. Just be there for her and love her.

  10. Joni,

    AA has a term called ‘terminal uniqueness’, which is a mindset held that a person’s situation is perceived to be so unlike anyone else’s that they refuse to seek help. The ‘terminal’ part refers to the consequences that this mindset leads to, which is insanity, or death. I assume it applies to any addiction one may have.

    If I think I am beyond help, I can continue not to seek help so that the things I am doing to protect my ‘lifestyle’ or ‘livelihood’ stay intact. I will look for anything or anyone to reinforce my negative behaviors. Any and/or all relationships revolve around keeping the addiction alive.

    Even seemingly positive things can become addictions. The God Journey, for example. I can go back and continually listen to the 300 or some-odd podcasts, digest a wealth of information, even live vicariously through the events of Wayne and Brad’s lives that they share and think everything’s ok, while remaining in my isolation. I don’t share my experiences, I don’t sow seeds into the ministry, everything goes in, but nothing comes out. I become spiritually bloated to the extent that anything I attempt to share is so out of touch with real-world reality, I become useless to the body of Christ. I become in desperate need in what Wayne calls, a ‘Pharisectomy’.

    Jesus came into the lives of broken people, sinners, to cause a paradigm shift to cure them of their uniqueness and heal them. The woman at the well, the man at the pool, were examples of people in seemingly hopeless conditions that were met at the point of their need. For the woman, she needed to be fully known, yet fully loved. For the man, he needed to be encouraged to have belief in someone that truly cared about him, for him to care about himself. But had the woman never gone to the well, the man never gone to the pool, they would have never given Jesus the opportunity to bring their lives to reconciliation. Ultimately, we have to make the effort to meet Jesus, so that He meets us.

    I’m glad you made the effort to share your experiences with us, that Wayne was willing and able to facilitate the effort, as he does with others here, creating an environment of inclusion. As you can see, by sharing, you encourage others to share as well. And that is how the body of Christ works most effectively. Thanks again.

  11. Not quite finished with this podcast yet, but Wayne you keep cracking me up with your protests of “trying hard not to have insider terms” and all I can think of is “yuck-factor! yuck-factor!”. lol. I love grammar and vocabulary so insider terms don’t bother me at all. I think we all have them in some form or another.

    Also, Joni I’m loving the echos of Brennan Manning and particularly “Posers, Fakers and Wannabes” in what you were saying. Looking back, I see that the Lord used that book to open my eyes and heart in ways that I never dreamed. The message of being loved by God in this moment as completely and as much as I’ll ever be, warms my heart like I’m hearing it for the very first time.

    Thank you both so much for sharing this conversation!

  12. I maybe wrong but lately i have been thinking that we focus so much in creating a “community” to meet our needs without getting to know God first. I feel like that is whats happens in religion, as soon as you are baptized they tell you to go to church every Sunday and Wednesday, give, serve, tithe…basicall get busy which seems like a distraction from getting to know God. Then you have an entire group of people who don’t even know God but think they do, telling everyone else what God wants them to do. I feel like David says it best in the Psalms…The Lord is my Shepard, I shall not want. He makes my lye down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul for His name sake.It seems like David got to know God ona a one-on-one relationship first. I was a christian most of my life but had no idea who God really was. I thought he was a fearful punisher. I want to know God first and then when he feels i know him well and i am ready, he will bring community. I feel we worry too much about community instead of getting to know who God is and how much he loves me, first. Just my thoughts and i could be wrong.

  13. Wow… “Paint by number.” I’ve never heard an analogy that quite captured the western approach to organized Religion like “Paint by number.” Thanks for sharing.

  14. @Tricia-This is something I am finding so challenging right now also. I am coming from a place where most of my family of origin has their roots deeply in the institution. My grandfather was an elder, my brother in law is studying right now to become “ordained”. Add to that a very profound brokenness in the family where performance is such a strong “ethic”. For me it seems that Jesus has me in a place where there’s very few people to walk with through this. There are some people He has placed around me…interestingly they’re very nice people but don’t know Him so there are parts of my life I can share with them but not the “growing in learning how to hear Him”. The conversations I hear on the podcast are at times very encouraging…but not the same as engaging with actual people where we can walk together. Tricia this seems to come full circle to something you said about learning to know Him first…it may be that this is His intent with me right now. It’s very uncomfortable at times but I’m thinking that perhaps (along the same lines of your words) it is important to sit with the discomfort and come back and back and back to Him. Then rather than worrying about community, He’ll bring the right people at the right time.

  15. Something I want to say, even if it goes against the flow a little bit… I must admit that the whole thing about the “feminine perspective” gets my “yuck meter” boinging around up near the red. From where I am at in my life and relationship with God, I don’t feel anything from Him that has anything to do with gender. He transcends all that. In a nutshell, as a woman, I am hungering after His perspective in all things because that’s where I keep finding more life and freedom and keep experiencing being even more deeply loved.

  16. Sue…i totally get where your coming from. I have a very religious family too and they really do not understand and at times it is very uncomfortable. I try to just lean into Abba’s chest and say show me who you are and show me how much you love me cuz i really can’t see it and i feel totally vulnerable and blind and helpless but i want to know you.

  17. @Janelle-loved your perspective! Yes…I think there’s a gracious space where even though we’re wired differently (male and female) it is about knowing Father, our relationship with Him and knowing His heart. After all the need for love is in both male and female hearts and a more spacious place allows for that unique journey with each person. : ) @ Tricia …thanks for the transparency of your words. Abba knows how to reach each of us and give us love for those who are so different or who misunderstand us. When it’s our family of origin there’s an added dimension to those dynamics of loving them, needing to protect ourselves if they attempt to take control and I think you’re right on. It’s in our Father and knowing His heart that we can find refuge. I’m slowly finding that Jesus will give me the words to say in certain situations and when I am hearing His words, the harshness of family performance pressure begins to fade. His opinion and thoughts are what’s most important…everything else sorts out around that truth.

  18. Joni, I couldn’t believe it when you mentioned “divine gaze”. I literally gasped! I had an experience that can be defined no other way than the divine gaze but to hear you use those exact words took my breath away! I say that to back u[ what you said before about people not knowing how much they are loved by God is because of the lack of experiencing the divine gaze. The thing is, no one told me about such an experience. It just happened one day. I say this to encourage those that want a formula or how to. I pray daily that people will experience the divine gaze and know – REALLY know, how much they are loved by God. Thanks Wayne for inviting Joni and to Joni for accepting.

  19. Like Deborah, I also had a ‘divine gaze’ experience. It was very early in life and when I was not a believer at all. It drastically shaped how I saw myself and others (for the better). Years later I decided to give church a try (at the begging of my little sister), and am still trying to undo the damage. I’ve always liked to be open and honest, but that was punished (by rejection and gossip) in the church I attended that was actually pretty progressive. So I ran the other way and am going to a catholic church. I’m not getting anything from it, but I feel a deep urge to be near some of the people. They glow to me and I think there may be something there. I’m not sure if I’m doing something wrong by being at church, but for now I feel God saying, “Get in their life..” Its pretty exciting because I don’t know what he means by that, but oh well!

  20. I think I love listening to the podcast because it often does challenge me to think in different ways and even though it feels off balance, it expands my thinking. God is bigger than any of us can grasp on our own.
    Just want to throw in a thought about the “divine gaze” terminology. I love Joni’s description of what that meant, but I think it could be a point of discouragement if someone thinks they have to have a similar experience – such as sitting in a chair or walking in the woods – when this profound moment comes upon them. My experiences are not necessarily going to be identical or even similar to someone else’s because God relates to me individually and uniquely. I think my divine gaze moments, to adopt that term, have been incremental. Some times from reading the scripture, sometimes with input from others in the Body of Christ, or some times in beautiful little revelations that I received from the Father (and yes, in the midst of pain or struggle.) I don’t feel like I’m missing out because I didn’t have a singular profound experience. I wanted to point that out in case someone is struggling thinking they got it wrong because they didn’t have the same experience.

  21. Thank you for the podcasts, I enjoyed Joni’s perspective & hearing a female voice.
    Wayne you brief summary of Bible College sums up my 2 years there, I came out more bewildered & much less likely to of use to anyone.

  22. Pat what a capstone to the conversation. Thank you all again for your encouragement. Like Deborah captured, the point is to know experiencially how loved you are by God. That still is a key element missing for most of God’s kids. How that happens, as Pat pointed out, is God’s job and is a mystery and unique to each one of His kids. I wonder if the kids have already had the experience but minimized it or discounted it because it did not fit cultural norms or church structures. My experiences continue to be incremental. Seems like everything on this journey is in step by step.
    Love this group. Thanks again.

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