In my most stripped down, honest moments I realize that I rarely really believe God's pronouncement of "good" over me. More quickly I tune my ears into the Hiss. How did this ancient murmur become so powerful in my modern life? How does the volume of white noise falsity grow so loud?
I think back to when I was five years old - a moment with my father. He'd beckoned me aboard his knees in his cushy white armchair in our den. Holding my shoulders and peering into my eyes he said, "Elisa, I've decided I don't love your mother anymore. We're getting a divorce." Hissssssss! God does not love you!
The Hiss continued as I faced the harsh truth that my mother couldn't be stable for me as she herself was addicted to alcohol and needed me to be stable for her. Answering the call of her alarm by getting her up in the morning and off to work, supervising my younger brother's whereabouts, cleaning cat vomit hairballs off the knotty pine planks of our breakfast room floor, ajaxing ashtrays... Hiiisssssss! God does not love you!
The Hiss has not always come as a result of the choices of others. There are plenty of moments when it slithers through mistakes of my own making: a shrill scream at my husband, a gruff - even mean - moment of mothering, a slip in sharing with another what was not my story to share. Why am I so bad? Why do I do such things? Why doesn't God help me make better choices? And even when I try oh, so hard to be good and do good, why doesn't God intervene to prevent bad things from happening to me? Why am I so ugly and so not beautiful? God does not love you!
I look at my life, I look at my choices, throughout my hisssstory I look at ME and I believe the Hiss: God does not love me!
Can you hear the Hiss in your ears? Accusing. Doubting. Ruining. The Great lie hisses its way through oh so many layers of our living! Every day. All the time. When we pull back the covers and pad into the bathroom mirror. When we catch a glimpse of our reflection while entering a store. When checking the rearview mirror while backing out of a parking place. When staring blankly at our image in kitchen window, washing dinner dishes. When brushing our teeth before heading back to bed in the late hours. We believe the Hiss. God does not love you.
And in believing the Hiss instead of God, we wound not only ourselves, but him as well.
I lift my head and I finally see. Like all of humankind, I face a choice. Will I choose the Hiss? God does not love you! Or will I choose my God? I love you Elisa!
The Hiss leaves me with no option but self-salvation. And because of my unavoidable list of failures, I know well that this is not an option at all. Like Sister Miriam, a novitiate trying so very hard to be good enough to be a nun in Mark Salzman's novel, Lying Awake, I discover, "We all have to try to become holy on our own, and fail, before we can approach God with humility."
God offers a promise of something else entirely: a permanent way out and ahead. Such a stunning turn of events offers full-time hope. This is the promise that God created me to live under: God loves me. And because he loves me, he sees me as beautiful. Period. Can I believe him so that he can fulfill this pre-Fall and post-Resurrection promise in my life?
Rather than acting sinfully, God invites me into acting saved. Rather than indentured as a slave to shame, God releases me to unfettered freedom. Rather than only rescued from how I've been wounded, God heals me whole, as if the evil never occurred.
Hello, Beauty Full.
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