“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”. Those words ring in my head as I recall myself saying them in a sing-songy way with my red pony tails flapping on either side of my head to the boys who were hurling insults at me in second grade. I learned early in life how to handle those insults by stuffing them deep down in the reservoirs of my heart and making sure nobody knew how much they hurt me. My mother hurled insults at me regularly but people in the family told me not to let it get me to because she was sick and really didn’t mean it. As I got older the words became harsher but I had learned how to be a bully by then and I knew how to fight back with words. My mom and I hurled all kinds of ugliness at one another and my dad said we acted more like sisters than mother-daughter. Actually as I got older my dad and I hurled insults at one another as well. I just stuffed all those words deep in my heart pretending that they didn’t affect me.
You’re stupid, you’re never going to amount to anything, you’re fat, you’re ugly, you’re slow, you’re just like ______, you’re an underachiever, you’re a mess, you’re a loser, you can’t do anything right, you’re a _____! That’s just a sampling of the things that I struggled with as an adult because I heard those words over and over in my head. Then I used those very words against my own children, at times I still go into a place where I beat myself up for bringing those words into my own vocabulary against my beautiful children. The verbal abuse that I had sustained was not just from the boys on the playground or from my parents but it was from my boyfriends too. It tainted my perception of love. I didn’t really understand what love meant because love to me was a series of insults without apology. Oh there were family members who didn’t use those words and didn’t belittle me. They tried really hard to show me what love was supposed to look like and I was very grateful but it just wasn’t enough.
All of the words that were spoken over me that were negative took root deep in my heart and caused me to believe that these things were true. So if it was true that I was fat, ugly and stupid then I was going to be the best fat, ugly and stupid girl I could be! My eighth grade teacher told my dad that I was an underachiever right in front of me. I figured well I will be the best underachiever I can be! My boyfriends added to the mix lots of vulgar words and heaped more insults on me in addition to re-enforcing what had already been spoken over me. So I would be all those things because since so many people had said those things, it must have been true. I believed it all to be true or else my mind wouldn’t continue to play those old tapes over and over. I became a very bitter and angry woman as a result. I withdrew into what I like to refer to as my turtle shell. Inside my shell no one else could hurt me. Outside my shell I was angry and people thought I was mean so they left me alone.
I remember when I gave my my life to Christ I thought that I was completely set free from the affects of all those words and to be honest, I was, because the finished work of Christ made it possible for me to be free. However, walking out that freedom would be a laborious task for me. See I thought that all that stuff I hid in my heart would just go away. Well I found out that Jesus doesn’t work that way, He walks us through the pain and then we are set free. It’s a process though. It was a long process for me that began in 2006. I had to learn how to live, how to love, how to think, how to act and how to just be. I was like a little baby in Christ even though I had been a christian for several years. What was missing in my life was discipleship. I knew the gospel but I just didn’t know how to walk it out.
One of the biggest lessons I needed to learn was how to recognize love. True love, the love that comes from God. Then I needed to learn who I am in Christ. Here’s one of the scriptures that I needed to understand that was a challenge for me.
Colossians 2:9-10: – “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;”
What? I have been made complete! No, that’s not possible because I am a broken, tattered and abused woman so there’s no way I am complete. I mean hey, I am fat, ugly and stupid! Remember?
John 1:12 – “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,”
What? I am God’s child.
Romans 8:1 – “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Wait, no condemnation?
Ephesians 2:4-5 – “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)”
He loves me? God loved me even when I was dead in my transgressions? But, but, but??
No, there are no buts. It’s true I am no longer the same tattered and abused woman that I used to be. All those words that were spoken over me no longer have power over my life.
Galatians 2:20 – “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
Christ lives in me and He has made me to be a new creation. A new woman. A loved and complete woman of God. I wish I could have believed those scriptures the first time I read them but it took a long time for the truth to get deep inside my heart to pull up the tangled roots of lies that I believed about myself. It was a long process but today I know who I am and I am not fat, ugly and stupid anymore. If someone thinks that about me, well, that’s just their problem.
I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.”