Her answer surprises me. She doesn’t stay silent. She doesn’t think about all the flaws she sees in herself. She seems, in that moment, not even to notice them. The beloved in the Song of Solomon, hearing her lover’s voice, not only listens but echoes her beloved’s declarations of her beauty.
He likens her to a garden filled with beauty and fragrance and pleasure (4:12-15). She receives the image and uses it to pray, “Awake, north wind, and come, south wind! Blow on my garden, that its fragrance may spread abroad. Let my lover come into his garden and taste its choice fruits.” (4:16)
He tells her her mouth is like the best wine (7:9). She doesn’t draw back with an embarrassed, “Oh, darling!” She doesn’t assume he can’t really mean what he says, all the while thinking of her less-than-sweet-smelling morning breath. She receives it – and speaks it back to him – asking that he enjoy her in whom he delights. “May the wine go straight to my lover.”
When I draw back from God’s expression of pleasure in me, I push away His arms. I welcome His ready love, let myself become all His, by accepting His naming of me: Holy. Beautiful. Desired.
Letting God tell me who I am is part of offering my body to Him. I am His, and He has made me alive with His life, holy with His holiness, and pleasing to Him. And He gets to tell me who I am because He has re-deemed me.
“To deem is to have an opinion about something and, particularly, to render a judgment about it. I might, for example, deem a cause worthy of my support. To redeem, then, can be understood as rendering a new judgment about something that has previously been judged. To rename, to redefine, to assign a new value or identity.” (Greg Paul, Close Enough to Hear God Breathe, p. 104)
How would it be, the next time God whispers that you’re beautiful, instead of turning away in embarrassment or shame, wondering who he might be talking to because it couldn’t possibly be you, to look back into His tender eyes and whisper, however shyly, “Will you come and enjoy the beauty you’ve planted in me? And will you spread it wide for others to enjoy too?”
Holy Spirit wind, come blow on my garden
That its fragrance may spread abroad.
May my lover come into His garden
And taste its choice fruits.