If there was a biography about you, what would the title be?

in 1971, even as the Supreme Court began preparing to consider arguments in the Roe v. Wade case, my mother had an excruciatingly difficult decision to make; fight for her own life, or give me a chance to live. I will not overly romanticize her decision by implying she simply had no chance of living without aborting me, but her chances were greatly reduced by choosing not to abort. She lost her life just 9 months after I was born. I wrote about this in response to a previous writing prompt, so I won’t belabor that again here.

My mother named me David, a name of Hebrew origin. In Hebrew, it looks like אָהֵב. The meaning of my name is simple: beloved – “You are loved”. She wanted me to know, no matter what, that she loved me. Even today, past the mid-century mark of my life, I don’t feel that love in a past tense. I only feel love – present tense – from her and for her.

A few years ago, I became aware of and fascinated by another word for love. It’s another Hebrew word, חֶסֶד, translated hesed or sometimes chesed in English. This is a very complicated word. A HUGE word! According to a book written by singer and author, Michael Card, there are at least 70 different meanings for hesed. A few of the other meanings include lovingkindness, devotion, mercy, kindness, faithfulness, and goodness. This website is the tip of the iceberg, in Michael Card’s own words. I think this sentence, lifted directly from the page, begins to paint the picture:

When the person from whom I have a right to expect nothing gives me everything.

After I discovered the word years back, I had it tattooed just below my left collar bone and above my heart. I took a picture of it today, and turned it into this image:

This word kinda looks like the English word “ton”, and I guess it could even be used to say “I love you a ton”, but the best English translation for hesed – and I even use “best” loosely in this sense – that I have yet come across to define hesed is simply sticky love. It’s like the “super glue” of love – only stronger! Once it’s on you, there’s no getting it off. More permanent than even a tattoo!

Another guy named David wrote about this sticky love, a long time ago.

O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in – behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain! Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” – Psalm 139:1-10

I don’t know if my mother knew specifically about the word hesed when she chose my name. But I think she did know this sticky love, and I think she wanted me to know it, too. She wanted me to know just how much I was/am/always will be loved.

On the same day I had hesed tattooed on my chest, I also had a wedding band tattooed on my hand. You see, there’s another lady who has been the embodiment of “sticky love” to me – for over 31 years now! She is my wife. My mother gave me a chance to live. My wife has given me the chance to know what it’s like to be given everything when I deserve nothing. Every day, she demonstrates sticky love to me. While I struggle to love her in my own feeble ways, she expresses to me what should be inexpressible. Through a ton of different challenges and adversity, she has learned how to just keep loving me. In her own words, apart from Christ, this would be impossible for her! And yet, she does.

So, yeah… my biography would have to be named: beloved.

Oh! I also have to throw this in! I’m super excited about another book my wife and I have started reading together. It’s the book Renovated by Jim Wilder. Though we’ve just finished the first chapter, this book seems to be unlocking Attachment Theory as it applies to God’s love. It raises the question: what if salvation is attachment? Not surprisingly, very early on in the book, the word hesed is used to describe God’s attachment to us! We’ve agreed to only read this one together, and I can’t wait to see where it takes us!

What about you? Have you heard of hesed before? Have you experienced it? And what might your biography be named?

2 thoughts on “beloved

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