Margaret Nagib, Psy.D.
I will never forget that day several years ago in early fall. It was a Sunday morning and I was sitting in a church service. But this was no ordinary service. We had guests that day— a children’s choir from Asia. Forty children, ranging from five to 12 years of age, came to sing for us.
The children’s voices were heavenly, and their faces were radiant and sweet. There was nothing polished or formal about them. Unlike most choirs, they didn’t stand in proper formation or wear matching outfits, and yet there was a unique unity about them. Many of the children swayed and moved to the music as they joyfully sang without a hint of self-consciousness or striving.
They were so free. They had no fear. This humble choir brought me to tears. It was like Father God was saying, “ This is who you are, too! Have you forgotten yourself? You were made to be free, radiant, and unashamed” (Psalm 34:4-5).
Much to my surprise and that of other congregants, the children walked through the aisles during their final song. With child-like freedom and humility, they displayed genuine love. Every child came to each congregant and stopped long enough to give us a heartfelt hug. I was completely undone. Forty children hugged me that day, and I will never be the same. Those little people taught me something about big love and how to show up in the world— just as I am.
Genuine love requires the courage to walk in freedom and not fear. I realized these children did something I had been unable to fearlessly do— take the risk of showing up just as I am, free and ready to love. In his letter to the Romans, Paul told them, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good” (Romans 12:9 NLT). Jesus was radically vulnerable and totally secure. He offered himself to us, but not because He needed us. He models what it’s like to be a source of pure love. There was no manipulation in His love—no strings attached. That’s why the prostitutes, pimps, and tax collectors loved Him so much; He didn’t need anything from them and He didn’t demand they change before He loved them.
Love without neediness; love without manipulation. That’s what we long for. That’s what we need. As we become more emotionally healthy, more honest about our flaws yet more secure in Christ’s love and acceptance, we need people less and can love them more. We can own our feelings instead of trying to impress people, control or intimidate them, or hide from them because we’re afraid. (Adapted from “Souls Like Stars: Renew Your Mind, Heal Your Heart, Unveil Your Shine)
Margaret Nagib, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist specializing in Christian counseling, inner healing and treating eating disorders, trauma, addiction, self-injury and mood disorders. For 15 years, she has provided individual, family and group therapy. Today, as a key faculty member of Timberline Knolls’ Clinical Development Institute, she travels throughout the country providing clinical training and presentations to professionals. Additionally, Dr. Nagib provides individual, family, group and pastoral counseling. Her goal is to restore Timberline Knolls’ residents to wholeness through a deeper relationship with God, helping each one to find her voice, purpose, and passion.