Confessions of a [Former] Hollaback Girl

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Sonia Cleverly shares how, through God's grace and discipline, she has learned to think twice and bite her tongue.

My sense of justice is finely honed—you might even say razor sharp.  Especially if you’ve been on the receiving end of one of my barbed diatribes.  I can make you hurt with my words. I am not proud of this.

There was a time in my life when I too regularly exhibited a lack of self-control in retaliation for some wrongdoing – real or perceived – perpetrated upon me or those I love.  Sometimes they were just mildly sharp commentaries, but sometimes they were outright verbal or written attacks.  I didn’t raise my voice, but you got the point.  I was careful to always have my facts straight, but who really noticed, or cared.  My husband has suffered; my children have suffered; my friends have suffered.

And every time, I would be wholly heartsick over what I had done and desperately wished I could undo it.  But, consequences are a very real part of sin, and my Father loves me entirely too much to let me go undisciplined.

He also loves me too much not to hear my cries to purify my heart, to curb my wicked tongue (and my wicked fingertips), and to continually transform my life.  And so he has.  It just didn’t happen overnight.  It has taken prayer, and discipline, and prayer, and a steadily waged war against my flesh, and did I mention prayer?  Thank you, Lord, that I am not the same girl I was when I was 25, or 35, or two weeks ago.  I’m still a work in progress, and always will be until I am in His presence.

And, I do know now what the problem really is.  I have always been sure of the grace that saved me.  Have I always understood the grace upon grace upon grace that is relentlessly heaped upon me still?  Clearly not.  For if I had, if I had felt it in my own skin, it would have been so very much easier to heap it upon others.

Make no mistake, my sense of justice is just as highly sensitive as it always has been.  After all, He created it!  I still struggle with, in the nitty gritty words of Gwen Stefani, being a “hollaback girl.”  Unfairness and unrighteousness cause an immediate visceral reaction in me.  If you are vulnerable, I will fight for you.  If you are marginalized, I will be your champion.  If your voice is weak, mine can be strong.  But more often now, even when I express it powerfully, my response will be expressed in peace. Now that I have let grace permeate not just my head, but my heart—now I have a fighting chance to think twice, bite my tongue, liberally use the backspace button.

And when I stumble, I am acutely aware of the Holy Spirit’s kind conviction; I keep a short account of reconciliation, and I let myself sink in His ocean of grace for me.

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace—John 1:16.

Written by Sonia Cleverly 

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