Be Still…

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We had borrowed the van from our friends.

It was quite a lot to ask considering we took it round trip from Seattle to Los Angeles. It was our first real vacation and though it was an extremely tight-budgeted trip it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of my three little ones. I’m sure they still hold the record for number of times Disneyland was squealed in a twenty-four hour period.

To save money, I made our family matching clothes from a bolt of fabric I bought for 25¢ a yard. The Von Trapp Family likeness was not lost on me. The comical similarity stopped at the collars and hems of our blue and yellow plaid apparel– the hills were not alive with the sound of music and I definitely wasn’t singing.

I had pneumonia, strep throat and a kidney infection the week before our trip. I also had three ecstatic children I couldn’t let down so I kept pushing through, despite my husband’s repeated suggestion I stay home.

That should have been my first clue.

The short trip can only be described as emotionally cold and confusing. For me, our visit to The Happiest Place on Earth was more like Alice in Wonderland.

On our way home we stopped at a gas station somewhere in Oregon. My husband reached for the door and stated coolly, “When we get home I’m leaving you and the kids. It’s over.” He didn’t even look in my direction, nor did he acknowledge the weight of his words.

Those words sucked the air out of my lungs. Time stood still while our tumultuous marriage flashed before me. The previous nine years had included two separations but I had hoped Disneyland marked the turning of a new page in our lives.

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The opened van door felt like a portal into a black hole.

He used the men’s room while I sat frozen in the van with three little cherubs who didn’t have a clue. Had Thelma and Louise come out three years earlier I may have had the courage to get behind the wheel and in true country western song fashion I would have kicked up a plume of dust or lay squealing rubber or spray gravel like a Gatling gun–anything to mimic some control.

Instead I made a collect call to our pastor.

I stood in a dirty phone booth confronted with the surreal details of someone else’s nightmare. I couldn’t think straight. I can’t remember my exact words to him that afternoon because the intense emotions convulsing within were both unspeakable and deafening.

My pastor’s words were a branding iron on my cerebral cortex–not because of their comforting effect but because of their absolute absurdity.

“Be still and know that I am God.” He seemed to yawn the words.

Be still?

Are you kidding me? How does anyone even do that?

I was expecting something much more substantive–more directive. I was hoping the man of God would put the fear of God in my husband. I was hanging on  to spider silk with one hand and holding my kids’ future in the other–I needed something stronger than Hallmark sentiments.

There were a lot of s-words in my life then–not to mention the four-letter one–but the biggest s-word in my vocabulary was survival. There’s one thing I know about survival, it has no friendship with still. Survival takes hyper-vigilance. Survival requires water treading skills–there’s no room for kickin’ back in the gondola of life.

To me, the best picture of stillness is seen with Jesus in a storm-thrashed boat. It was dark. Loud. Wet. Cold. The crew and passengers were frantic.

But not Jesus.

He wasn’t just resting or chilling out, he was actually asleep! Sometimes our Sunday School version of this story keeps us from seeing the how to and what for of stillness.

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God has meticulously guided me through some soul-crushing terrain in the thirty years since I missed my scene in a Carrie Underwood music video. He has given me the opportunity to experience His exquisite grace. In the process I have learned something about the stillness Pastor Easterly spoke of in the phone booth that day.

My ability to come to stillness is found in the context of intimacy and identity.

Intimacy with God cultivates trust while identity fosters security.

This happens over time. It happens in the dark of night and in the countless ways God reveals His love and character through faithfulness and compassion.

My identity in Christ is unshakable. Intimacy with him develops my understanding of that identity and supports my willingness to trust that I am in his hands and he is good. The ability to come to stillness begins right here.

Knowing God’s word plays a big role in my coming to stillness but I can’t just know the scripture –I must know the God of scripture.

The ability to rest in the back of a sinking boat requires that I have already surrendered my life–in fact, that I have died to myself. Even daily. I can’t be still if I’m thrashing to save myself.

In closing, let me say that I think a big piece of Be still and know, is found in humility. Humility says, “Lord, I don’t need to inform you about this storm–this situation, this economy, this global humanity crisis, this political nightmare, the media-driven fear mongering and trauma triggering news feeds. You are my God and I trust you. My life is in your hands and it belongs to you. It’s yours not mine.”

We might not always be able to sleep soundly in the back of our sinking ships but we can always be stilled there in His embrace!

 

Trust & The Would You Rather Game

Sad Young Man

Would you rather die in a burning building or drown in the ocean?

They usually asked it form the back seat of a boring car ride.

Would you rather fall into a pit of snakes or have 10,000 spiders crawl all over you?

I cringed at their morbid questions but played along to keep a he touched me war from breaking out.

My answer, more often than not, would be a groan followed by, Neither one

“Gramma, you have to choose one,” they’d insist.

I have to choose one? I don’t want to accept that I have only two undesirable choices.

I’m grieved.

I’m heartsick.

I’m ashamed.

I’m grieved because the political front in America is disintegrating into a sophomoric competition of blame shifting and low blows. Where have decorum, respect and decency gone? Not to mention morals.

We’re being forced to play the Would You Rather Game and I hear myself groaning more than ever before. I honestly don’t know what my choice will be on the day my answered is required. A lot of us are groaning and getting ugly with each other as well.

I’m ashamed because our great nation, the land that I love, resembles a circus–a house of horrors if you will. This land of benevolence and generosity has become a showcase for all the ways power and greed corrupt. It has become a global spectacle. Lack of character, morality and integrity leave us all cringing and bewildered.

I’m heartsick because police officers are being murdered in record numbers. My son in law is a police officer with a wife and six children counting on him to come home at night after serving his community.

I’m heartsick because officer involved shootings of our citizens are now too common. It’s becoming harder and harder to identify the good guys from the bad guys. Heated lines are taken to the streets while hatred and fear draw lines on hearts.

Fear is being fostered in every corner of life. It pushes us inside–inside our walls and inside ourselves. An entire population resists connection so we lose the fiber of community and the strength in our camaraderie, both as a nation and as the body of Christ. Basic trust is whittled to dust and hope is scattered on the wind.

Where is trust found? Who can we trust?

We can’t trust man or man’s systems. We can’t trust what is being spoken, or promised or offered. We can’t. We never could actually.

The words I read in John remind me again that Jesus didn’t trust either. When he walked among us he always knew we couldn’t be trusted.

Because of the miraculous signs…many began to trust in him. But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature. No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like.  (John 2:24-25 NLT)

Jesus placed his trust in his Father.

When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.  (1 Pet. 2:23 ESV)

Because he trusted his Father he was able to enter into covenant with untrustworthy mankind. He knew full well that we’d never keep our end of the agreement.

Jesus entered into kingdom-partnership with us knowing absolutely that we would mess it up and get it wrong.

It wasn’t chivalry or heroics that compelled him. It wasn’t obligation that propelled him through the mire of humanity.

It was Love.

He chose to love, sacrifice for and redeem a people corrupted by sin in every possible way and  though grieved, he is never surprised at what he encounters living among us. He came knowing:

• • That his own would not recognize him. • •

• • That the forgiven would refuse to forgive. • •

• • That the healed would fail to return and give thanks. • •

He knew that his friends would betray him, religious leaders would kill him and that his bride would be an adulteress.

Jesus, Embodied-Love, commingled with sin-infected humanity offering our only hope for stability, freedom, peace and transformation. A future and a hope. (Jer. 29:11)

We can’t trust political parties or political candidates—our hope can’t be placed in that arena. We can’t trust justice systems or religious constructs—they fail to manage the scope of our sin and immorality and self-absorption.

Jesus entrusted himself to his Father and so must we.

We trust His will, His power and His plan. We trust the completeness of Holy Love to keep our hearts afloat in a sea of depravity.

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We entrust our grieving hearts and broken souls to the One who is love, the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The One who is all this world cannot (and will not) offer.

For those reasons, we can live among a crooked and depraved generation without losing our love for them–without losing hope for them. We can encounter failing systems, failing governments and failing religious systems without losing hope that He contains, sustains and transforms lives.

We can look at the storms and not be shaken.

Jesus said:

Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. (John 14:1-3 ESV)

He is our home, both in this world, and the one to come.

Don’t let your hearts be troubled! This is our choice, weary friends! We can choose this! And in our choosing we can propagate hope in a world infected with sin.

DON’T BE AFRAID, FOR I AM WITH YOU.

DON’T BE DISCOURAGED, I AM YOUR GOD.

I WILL STRENGTHEN YOU AND HELP YOU.

I WILL UPHOLD YOU WIHT MY VICTORIOUS RIGHT HAND. –Isa. 41:10

Grace and peace!

P.S. I’d like to warmly welcome my new visitors! I see you from Italy, Germany, Brazil, Norway, India, France, Mexico and the UK! Many thanks to all who visit and follow Grace Grips. In a world saturated with good blogging, I am honored that you would spend a few minutes with me. Thank you for your referrals and for passing Grace Grips along to your friends. A big shout-out as well to those who can take time to comment! It is incredibly encouraging to know if these words inspire you! Big cyber hugs from a timorous author! 

I’m Not Close to God!

Closeness to God isn’t measured in proximity that increases or decreases depending on spiritual activity.

In my early years as a Jesus-follower, I operated under the notion that closeness to God was based on my actions. It wasn’t an altogether faulty notion. James 4:16 says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” I reasoned that if I engaged in daily devotions, if I read my Bible, prayed fervently, avoided sin and carbs I would then be close to God.

My unspoken illusion played out something like this: If I got close enough to God He would let me do stuff for Him and onlookers might say, “Wow, she must be super close to God.” (Smelling a stinky motive?)

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A few women in my family laugh about it now, but for us being close to God involved ritual and paraphernalia. When we felt close to God there was always equipment involved: a new Bible, cool Bible cover, highlighters, bookmarks, a few devotionals and a journal written in uniform handwriting. These items sat smartly in a chic basket next to our quiet time chairs where we faithfully met Jesus each morning—and make no mistake, it had to be morning or it wasn’t quite as effective!  It also didn’t hurt that visitors would notice the basket and the devotion and our closeness to God.

If our rituals lost momentum, became intermittent or even abandoned for a season, we no longer felt close to God and acted like defeated minions, hanging our heads like kids avoiding an angry parent.

I’ll never forget when a 20s something beach-tanned Jesus Freak walked into our little community church back in the 70s. He was literally barefoot, his long hair held back by strips of leather. He packed a Bible encased in a well-worn leather cover. Hand tooled on the front was the now iconic Maranatha Dove. His Bible had notes scribbled in the margins and verses underlined throughout.

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I had no idea we were allowed to write in our Bibles!

I also had no idea how much my observation of Mr. Maranatha’s Bible influenced some ridiculous behaviors and notions. I emulated other indicators of what identified a person walking closely to God. Most of it was a bunch of soulish activity that only served to make me feel good about my closeness to Jesus.

You guessed it. I got a Bible and began underlining and marking. Beginning with John 3:16 I indiscriminately underlined verses and added incredibly meaningful marginal notes like Very Cool!  Sooo Good!  I love Jesus! (The exclamation points marked with hearts of course.) It suddenly seems important that I mention I was thirteen-years-old at the time.

Years passed and things were great when I felt close to God but when I didn’t, I sheepishly retreated, distancing myself from Him. My closeness ebbed and flowed as I rallied and retreated, rallied and retreated. The rallies were preceded by fervent prayers asking Him to draw me closer. My routines were often self-fueled. My retreats were sojourns in sheepish defeat propelled by an underlying belief that God was upset with me.

The thing is, I really wanted to be used by Him.

I wanted to serve Him and the only ones who were chosen to serve were really, really close to Him— evidenced by the things people close to God say and do. Think part nun, part wild honey and locust eater.

What I didn’t know in those early years was my desire to serve God was impacted by brokenness and motivated out of need to remain in good stead with Him rather than by love for Him. My heart seemed to be saying See how faithful I’m being? Are you pleased with me?

The Lord has been so patient with me. He’s led me gently down a healing path which has enabled me to better understand and trust His love for me. I have since come to know that He didn’t just love me because He was obligated by some rash public declaration or because of an assignment His father gave Him.

He loves me willingly and completely.

(Even as I write this, the joy of that realization overwhelms me to tears.)

In John 14 Jesus is preparing His followers for his death and departure. In verse 10 He asks, “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?”

It was imperative that they understood this because Jesus urges again in verse 11, “Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”

He goes on to encourage and explain. Look, I have to go away or you can’t be with me and you can’t be in me and I can’t be in you.

Jesus said,

When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

Did you get that?

“I am in you.”

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When I realized that Jesus didn’t come just to atone for sins and to reveal the Father but that His life, death and resurrection made available to me the same union that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit share…

IT COMPLETELY CHANGED THE WAY I VIEW MY RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM! 

Not only is He my dwelling place but I am His. I’d say that’s pretty close, wouldn’t you?

“For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”  – Ephesians 5:30-32 

What is true of my marriage union applies to my union with Christ. You see, I’m no less united to my husband in marriage when we’ve had a disagreement or if we are separated by miles. The reality is:

  • We are united. 
  • It impacts my identity. 
  • It impacts my priorities. 
  • It impacts the way I live. 
  • It impacts my emotional security. 
  • It impacts how I spend my time. 
  • It impacts who I share my time with.

These things don’t prove I have union with my husband, they are a result of that union.

Our union with God is a union of love and we love God because He first loved us. Love is what drives the union of the Godhead and love is what drives my union with God—His for me and mine for Him.

For reasons beyond my comprehension, God does not move away if I mess up or fail to reach the bar—whatever that is.

My friends, God is not far off. He makes His home in us!

Let union, rather than proximity, depict your relationship with God!

Let love, not duty be the motivator in that union!

Dear Reader…

Autumn. Fall scene. Beautiful Autumnal park. Beauty nature scene

I begin this post with Dear Reader because it reminds me there is a flesh and blood someone on the other side of these words I hurl into cyberspace.

Where have I been, you ask?

This summer I did a lot of soul-searching and zero blogging. There was a fair amount of talk therapy splattered in there as well. I spent eight peaceful days alone in the woods contemplating my life and asking hard questions. I filled my journal with ink that told on my heart, revealing the conflict it contained.

Recently I had the joy of experiencing my two-year old grandson. His antics and adorableness make me grit my teeth in attempts at self-control. If given over to my impulses I would scoop him up and smother him with unending kisses. Though his tolerance for smothering gramma-affection has diminished, his desire for my undivided attention has not waned.

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Photo credit cjandjen.blogspot.com

We spent the morning playing and at one point in the back yard he observed and commented, “It’s windy.” For a poetic moment he stared off David Thoreau-like and added, “I like the wind. It blows the hot off me.” I could eat that boy up!

Though I enjoyed the occasional wind that blew the hot off me this summer, I more needed the wind of God to blow the dust layer off my outlook.

I took a hard look at my identity, my relationships, my purpose, my heartaches and my dreams. I also questioned my blog. (Ask a couple of my friends and they’ll tell you this happens on a regular basis.)

    • Why blog?
    • Do I have anything to say that isn’t already being said elsewhere?
    • What am I hoping to accomplish?
    • Do I have a theme and who’s my audience?
    • Do I have a readership?
    • Can I grow a blog while refusing Facebook and Twitter?
    • Am I too open and why for the love of boundaries do I freely bare my soul?

If you’ve read Grace Grips before, you know I’m intentionally transparent because I think people are tired of pretense, idealism, glossy rhetoric and religious cliches. Don’t you just want a place where make-up is not required?

One of my goals for this blog has been to acknowledge and share the messiness of mucking out my honest-to-goodness-real-life with its searing imperfections, frequent failures and side-lining discouragements.

I talk about living with depression and anxiety and PTSD and the effects of childhood sexual abuse. I talk about my relationship with God and share the things He shows me. And though I’m real, it’s not my intention to offer a steady diet of wallow and whine so occasionally I highlight the celebratory moments when It is well with my soul! 

I try to offer glimpses of Jesus in the midst of it all and illuminate the Grace that grips when I don’t feel I can hang on.

And, I just happen to think there are folks who benefit from some of this!

A couple weeks ago I listened to a new friend update me on her life. She’s a first-grade teacher taking a fully-loaded graduate course. All I could offer her in response was to say that I’m a stay-at-home grandmother operating in the self-termed ministry of availability–helping where I’m needed. I didn’t add: when I’m not stuck in depression that is.

While I cheered her, insecurity chided me.

Though I’m getting better, I’m a perpetual self-scolder. I tend to dismiss my dreams and habitually question my purpose. I work hard to push against the persistent voice of disqualification that has plagued me since childhood. I get lost between my feeling of not being enough and my fear of being too much. I stumble over my emotions. I get tripped up on the opinions of others. I fall flat when rejection jumps me. I wrestle with anxiety. I’m easily overwhelmed when two or more of these factors are present at the same time.

Mostly, I just can’t seem to keep a firm grip on who I am so I’m apt to look for clarification from others and wait in vain for permission to live my own life. And sometimes I isolate in a vacuum of self-effort while I attempt to work out a fix for my current version of broken.

One muggy August afternoon I whined to my therapist, “It’s like I keep taking courses but I never get the certificate and here I am at fifty-eight questioning my purpose and if I’ve wasted my life and where do I go from here…and I’m very, very tired.”

Pass the tissues, please!

The tissue-passer reminded me that I’m never going to arrive.  Her reminder was analgesic. This side of the gates I’m never not going to be broken, flawed and in need of transformation. I’m never going to be fully qualified or completely equipped. “But that doesn’t mean,” she added, “that you stop putting yourself out there.”

So this summer I laid my heart before God and somewhere in my contemplative exploration God turned the questions on me:

Does who you think you are carry more weight than who I say you are? 

Trust me, my only response to that was repentance.

As summer packed up for the year I had come to some conclusions. Most importantly I determined to identify myself as one dearly loved by God.

I am His chosen, uniquely created, intentionally-loved, perpetually-cared for recipient of unending Goodness, Mercy and Grace.

(Read that again, please, because it’s true of you as well!)

I decided to accept that His calling on my life is exactly that–His.

I determined to trust where He leads, no matter how seemingly incongruous the path.

I agreed to relinquish the outcomes of His initiations for and through me and to release my need to quantify their import or impact.

And I accepted, once again, the inescapable reality that I’m going to mess up and not everyone is going to like or agree with me.

Back to my blog. I’m going to keep at it even though it still scares me.

You might be a Grace Grip reader if you aren’t afraid of someone offering their vulnerable journey with Jesus through a messy life. My hope is to point to a life-simplifying relationship with God. In the process I hope to be relatable and to offer identification for those who think their struggles are unique and that they are alone.  I want to inspire courage for those looking at and dealing with the hard stuff.

Thank you, friend, for hanging out with me.

And, by the way, by taking a moment to comment, you join the conversation and broaden the impact—not to mention inspire trepidatious me.

Grace and Peace!

The Settling

God of All GraceWe sit in a misshapen circle of chairs in the prayer room at church. We’re an eclectically beautiful group of women with hearts hungry for more of God–needing to be known and connect.

We share the highs and lows of our faith-walk and our humanity. It’s a safe place that invites vulnerability and imparts validation. So we circle up and open up. We offer ourselves, the best of it and the worst of it.

The high points bring praise to our lips–the hard things suck the breath right out of us.

One of us admits that bitterness and anger are rooted in her heart, how she doesn’t want it there but how she feels powerless to remove it. A few of us offer tidbits of our forgiveness journeys and encourage her to keep moving toward it.

Another testifies of the phenomenal faithfulness of God to save her son from addiction and certain death–how he now serves in his church and boldly shares his faith. There is a collective voice of praise.

The joy is followed by the pain-laden words of a mother who recently discovered her son’s lifeless body. His accidental overdose followed on the heels of a hopeful run of clean recovery. Through her barely controlled anguish she reveals his overdose may have been the end punctuation to his life ravaged by the pain of addiction but it wasn’t the end of the story or the final commentary on her son.

With bravery born of desperate faith, she confesses that she doesn’t question God in any of it.

No words are offered–what can be spoken in the face of this loss? Yet, the deep sighing groans of motherhood escape our faces etched in empathy and they lay as validation of her pain.

Amid the collective needs of provision, healing, restoration of messy relationships and salve for broken hearts we turn our hearts to the gospels and revisit Jesus’ post-ressurrection encounter with his followers.

Nail CrossAnd then it hits me all over again and I want to get on my knees and weep in adoration of Him.

He didn’t have to come back after the resurrection.

The penalty of our sin was satisfied and Jesus could have remained in Heaven with His Father. After all he’d already suffered the indignities of our humanity, traversed the mocking unbelief, extreme suffering and vile hatred. He’d encountered the betrayal of friends, survived the flesh-tearing scourge, endured an excruciating crucifixion and descended to face Satan and take the keys of hell, death and the grave.

IT WAS FINISHED! From a contractual standpoint every was dotted and every t was crossed. He was off the hook–so to speak.

We revisit the account of Jesus’ post-resurrection encounters with his bewildered and bedraggled followers recorded in Luke 24.

Is anyone feeling this with me?

Yes. The words he spoke during that time are powerful and pivotal.

“Behold my hands, my feet…it is I Myself.”

But the thing that pulls me into the swoon of this passage is that his love for us compelled Him to return and search us out.

I just imagine that extra mile walk with his followers. He returns to prove, not only that he is the Risen Savior–as he promised–but that He will forever be the one who walks beside us.

The thing that really gets me?

He returns in the reassuring form of flesh, checks up on us, settles our hearts and boosts our lagging confidence with his unfailing promise before he sends us out.

It is, to me, the equivalent of him tucking us back in and kissing us goodnight after our fears have rattled our faith and robbed our peace.

He settles us.

His parting action, as recorded in Luke 24:50, is to raise his hands and bless them–to bless us.

We then gather ourselves and our belongings and we exit the prayer room infused with a fresh reminder of God’s nearness. It bolsters our faith as we walk out the hard places.

“Behold! It is I Myself. Trust me!”

Leave Her Alone!

Have you ever walked in the painful shoes of the reproached? Or stared down the barrel of rejection–the pointing fingers forcing you to the margins? Has your heart received the bruises of ridicule?

Of course it has!

At some point in life most of us have been the proverbial new girl sitting alone in the cafeteria, mocked for our uniqueness,  blamed for our genetics or shamed for our desire to belong.

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It was the first day of high school. The bus carried twenty-five of us loggers’ kids from our woodsy little community called Trail (no kidding) to the nearest high school 18 miles away. There was the usual mix of excitement and trepidation. I stared blankly out the window as I ticked off telephone poles and hoped I’d find my locker, master its combination and get to my classes on time.

Third period. I walked into the music room for choir, took a seat in the multi-rowed semicircle and hid behind an armload of books. I soon became aware of snickering coming from a group of boys sitting directly behind me. My face warmed. I held my breath, praying there wasn’t some wardrobe (such as it is when you’re wearing your mothers clothes) malfunction or a similarly mortifying faux pa.

“I smell bacon!” He blurted out. The words lodged in the back of my head where they were aimed. I froze. Again and louder he repeated, “I smell bacon!”  A rally of cruel laughter broke out and then a harsh nudge was delivered to my shoulder.

“Oink. Oink. Oink.”

I wasn’t overweight but I was well-developed. (I had once been mistaken for the substitute teacher in 7th grade.) But we girls, we newly emerging women–we can’t be thin enough or pretty enough or anything enough. I received those words as believable commentary on my body and vowed to alter myself.

You see, I had spent the entire 8th grade in my coat, refusing to take it off in class because of the naked shame of abuse. Though Mrs. Sawyer chided, reproached, rolled her eyes, clucked her tongue and even turned up the heat–her obsessive attempt to get me to shed my pea coat armor had failed.

I carried that “pig” indictment around with me the better part of that year as I cut carbs and applied more makeup. In the springtime one of those boys offered an apology–of sorts. “It was because your clothes smelled like woodsmoke.”

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She too had been chided. Ridiculed. Judged. The derision leveled at her didn’t come from a bully collective but from her own–her family, friends and faith community. Mary was an ardent follower known for her single focus and extravagant worship. Her devoted stay at the feet of Jesus once evoked the ire of her sister. The costly aromatic oil she poured on the crown of her King stole food from the mouths of the poor–or so the leaders in her faith community asserted.

But Jesus, on his way to ultimate betrayal, came to her defense and spoke words that reveal His posture toward all we who have ever been maligned, marginalized, maltreated and misunderstood.

“Leave her alone!”

Can you picture it? Though He keeps His love turned on, He doesn’t mince words in silencing her critics..

He speaks into the scene of those places in our lives as well, both past and present, where we are in need of defender, protector, and advocate. With the baritone of authority He similarly quiets the voice of our fault-finders–of whom we’re often numbered among.

Another translation says, “Let her be.” Can you hear it, dear friends? Can you hear the timeless words of the One who never lets you out of His sight or misses a single beat of your heart? He speaks up for you.

My prayer is that this truth sinks into your soul like healing balm; that it crowns your head with the fragrant and costly anointing that makes you His. That you remember His words when other voices threaten your peace…and your place.