I read a story once in the book Messy Spirituality (by Mike Yaconelli) that really touched my heart. It was an account of a lady named Margaret who had been horribly shamed in childhood. A teacher had decided on a terrible punishment for her tardiness to class: she had made Margaret stand in front of the room while each of the other students came to the blackboard and wrote a sentence about how "bad" Margaret was. The students wrote, one by one, words like "Margaret is stupid! Margaret is selfish! Margaret is fat!" The teacher said this "might motivate" the poor girl to "become a better student." But what it did was crush her spirit and cause her years of heartache, as she watched herself become what those words said, because of the hold those lies held on her. Those lies seared her soul and wounded her deeply, causing her to limp through life feeling unworthy and rotten.
I realized recently that I have been living under a lie that has crippled me as well. I hate how the enemy lies to us and how we can live under what isn't even true. The particular lie that crippled me was "You are a terrible friend. There is something wrong with you. People only tolerate you. Noone would ever want to be close to you. Noone would ever want you for a best friend." Noone would ever want me for a best friend - those words have haunted me for years and years as I have seemingly searched in vain for a really good friend. A best friend. But the words of that lie seemed to be true in my experience. It seemed that noone really did want me to be close to them, to be a truly close friend and confidante. If it weren't for my dear husband, I would truly have felt totally alone. He is truly my best friend. And I know God is my ultimate best friend. But still, women seem to need each other as friends. We seem to need someone to share and laugh with, to talk about wildly swinging moods or clothes or childbirth. It just seems to be the way God made us. And I didn't seem to have that best friend with whom I could share what was on my heart. The lie seeped in deeper and made me feel unworthy, defective, and like an outsider. But it was so deep down below the surface that I didn't even know I believed all this - I didn't even see this lie in my life! But still, like Margaret, lying words had been written across my soul, and I was wounded by them.
But Jesus is our Healer! He comes in and erases the lies of the enemy. He heals, lifts up and restores! That is what He did for Margaret. A counselor helped her through her troubled feelings and wounds. He talked with her for a long time, then asked her to relive that day back in the classroom. Margaret recalled every single student, describing each one and what that person wrote that was "bad" about her. She was in tears as she spoke about that awful day. Then the counselor told Margaret that she had forgotten one person:
"You left out one person...See, He's sitting in the back of the classroom. He's standing up...now He's walking over to the blackboard and picking up an eraser. He is erasing every one of the sentences the students wrote. They are gone! Margaret, they are gone! Now He's turning and looking at you, Margaret. Do you recognize Him yet? Yes, His name is Jesus. Look, He's writing new sentences on the board. 'Margaret is loved. Margaret is beautiful. Margaret is gentle and kind. Margaret is strong. Margaret has great courage.'" (Mike Yaconelli, Messy Spirituality, p. 76-7)
And what happened when the counselor said that? Margaret began to cry. Then her crying changed over to smiling, then to laughing and tears of joy!
I love that story! That is exactly what Jesus does in His grace! He comes in and erases the awful lies that Satan has tried to tell us about ourselves, that we are stupid, unworthy, unlovable, terrible, strange, and hideous. And our dear Lord writes in new sentences that are the truth about us: we are loved, we are worth something, we are whole, we are accepted, we are significant, we are beautiful! And His truth sets us FREE to laugh and to dance and to sing with joy!
Jesus brought healing to me yesterday as well. I joined Margaret in seeing my sorrow turn to gladness. He is so amazing. He brought me a dear friend, someone that I dared to open up to about this deep anxiety I had. It was scary and very vulnerable. But the friend He sent was very patient and loving. She ministered grace to me. She never made me feel like a defective person. She gave me the precious gift of understanding. She acted like I was worth helping and she took a long time with me to work out my thoughts and beliefs. She was Jesus to me yesterday! That is exactly the way He is, isn't it? He doesn't ever crush a bruised spirit. He is gentle and comforting, and He ministers healing balm to us. He ministered that to me. Through my friend, He made me feel special and worth something, that I was someone worth spending time with and worth helping. Through her, Jesus began erasing the lies that I had lived under for so long, the lies that said I was worthless, not wanted, and not "good enough" to ever have a best friend.
The real healing, though, came right at the end of my conversation with my friend. Suddenly, she started saying over and over, "We are best friends. You are my best friend. Best, best BEST!" It was like Jesus was re-writing the sentences on my blackboard! It was like He was saying to me: "You are special. You are lovable. You are beautiful. You are loved. You are MY best friend and you are worthy of being/having a best friend." It was like a waterfall of love pouring over me, so healing and refreshing. It was such a moment of release - in that moment, God healed me of the wounds those awful lies had inflicted! The feeling was so freeing, like a little bird taking wing and floating on currents of air!
The enemy tries to tell us awful lies about ourselves. It's crippling to listen to such trash. Sometimes he's so subtle, and our feelings and circumstances can make the lies seem so true. But they're NOT true! Jesus is erasing those lies by His grace-words to us! He is every day whispering the truth of our belovedness into our spiritual ears. He will get His message across. He won't give up until we see that every lie has been erased and that our spiritual 'blackboard' has been filled with His life-giving, Spirit-words of truth and love for us! He is truly my Best Friend, and He also lets me know I'm worth being someone's best friend down here on earth as well. And so are you! You're worth something! You're valuable! This world would be a much darker place without you in it! You are special! Jesus, your Best Friend, the One with that holy eraser and life-writing chalk in His nail-scarred hand, says so!