Overcome the Lies

Today I’m linking up with the women of the Overwrite the Lies project–a week-long social media campaign to help combat the young lies women listen to in their heads, so they might hear the truth written in their heart.

 

When I was in high school, girls went through a phase of calling each other a lot of negative words ‘playfully’ disguised as nicknames. Slut. Whore. Bitch. Anyone who has been a girl knows what I’m talking about. Girls try to say it as a joke or a passive-agressive commentary, but it still stings. It’s not true. It’s a lie, but it gets in your head. And your heart.

 

Especially mine. When I was in sixth grade, I learned that I was what I like to affectionately call a doorstep baby. My birthmom had left me on my dad’s doorstep without so much as a see you later. I grew up in a loving home with devoted parents and four beautiful sisters. I was never treated any differently than any of them, and the circumstances of my birth were never dwelled on. But in high school, doubt, fear and evil crept into my mind. I started to wonder. What was the role of my birthmom in my life? Did I inherit anything from her? Would parts of my life be out of my control, simply because they were her genes? The names girls threw around carelessly in highschool–slut, whore, bitch, tease–they were all things I had once heard said of my birthmom. Was I destined to turn out like her–a bitch?

 

Through the grace of God, it was at this time that my junior english class was reading John Steinbeck’s East of Eden. The story works its way through two brother’s internal struggle after they learn their mother is a prostitute. One fears that much like the Old Testament says in stories of generations of offspring being cursed due to one ancestor’s sin against God, he is condemned to be a sinner like his mother. The other finds his answer in the grace of Jesus and one word: timshel. This is the original word in the Bible, located in Genesis, that gives the first sign of the most defining characteristic of our relationship with God in comparison to other deities: free will. I’ve posted a short clip of the passage below:

 

Samuel said, “[…]Why is this word so important?”

Lee’s hand shook as he filled the delicate cups. He drank his down in one gulp. “Don’t you see?” he cried. “The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in ‘Thou shalt,’ meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.’ Don’t you see?

“Yes, I see. I do see. But you do not believe this is divine law. Why do you feel its importance?”

“Ah!” said Lee. “I’ve wanted to tell you this for a long time. I even anticipated your questions and I am well prepared. Any writing which has influenced the thinking and the lives of innumerable people is important. Now, there are many millions in their sects and churches who feel the order, ‘Do thou,’ and throw their weight into obedience. And there are millions more who feel predestination in ‘Thou shalt.’ Nothing they may do can interfere with what will be. But ‘Thou mayest’! Why, that makes a man great, that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win.”

(For a longer snippet of the novel, please click here).

And in those paragraphs, in the words of the Lord, I found the truth over the lies. Because our God loves us, trusts us, and wants the best for us: He has given us free will. The choice is ours. Jesus died to break the rules of the Old Testament and continue this free will. We can be great, or we can fall. But we are not predestined to either one.

 

The beauty of the Lord is this: He doesn’t just take your sins away. He takes whatever shame, sin and ugliness you may have in your past and turns it into something beautiful–something for His glory. I never in a million years would have thought I would have once been a camp counselor using the story of my birthmom for His glory, or blogging about it to strangers on the internet. But that’s what the love and forgiveness of Christ can do. I no longer feel trapped, scared, hopeless, helpless, abandoned or ashamed. Because I have found the truth.

 

So, since this week is focusing on overwriting the lies we hear, let me wrap up with this:

I am my mother. 

I am my father.

My path is set. 

Once I’ve fallen, count me down.

The choice is yours: timshel.

Turning a Blind Eye: American Exceptionalism and Domestic Adoptions

 

How many of you have been caught innocently watching TV when you’re sent into a 30-second (or longer) guilt trip as you sit in the warmth of your home when the screen flashes to those big, doe-eyed pictures of third-world children? Starving. Barely (if at all) clothed. Or worse–big, doe-eyed ANIMALS. They prey on your emotions until you can’t help but pick up the phone and call and save…something.

 

In no way am I trying to say that these causes are not worth your time or attention or money. But, I’m sitting there watching these commercials and I suddenly wonder: why are there no commercials for the thousands of American children waiting to be adopted, rescued from a foster home or simply fed? Why don’t they get our attention and money too? Think about it. When is the last time you ever saw an advertisement for domestic adoption? I don’t think I’ve ever seen one. Why is it okay to run ad after ad after ad for animals and foreign children, while not giving just one spot to our own children in need?

American Exceptionalism is still alive and well. We are still convinced that we are the Divine’s safe haven and chosen land, the pattern for the rest of the world to follow and simply–exceptional. We are a light upon the hill. Fear of darkening this light or the safety we find within our superiority prevents us from pointing out our own country’s needs when it comes to domestic adoptions. It’s too ugly, too raw and too painful. It reminds us that we’re not all hard-working, middle-class “‘muricans” who value family, diligence and democracy. Because one of us, an American, abandoned these poor children and along the way, most likely, did some pretty hard damage to their psyche and physical health.

If we truly are devoted to the concept of American Exceptionalism and continuing that, we should realize that part of that exceptionalism is an ability to identify your own faults and FIX them. American exceptionalism is rooted in an understanding that we are to be an example to the rest of the world based on living our lives out according to God’s guiding principles. In that case, it is our responsibility to help ourselves. And in helping ourselves, we would be a positive example to other nations. We would continue to be a model.

I hope that this blog makes you think a little more about the importance of doing your part to help those in need in our own backyard. Yes, helping international babies and animals is important too. But what type of country are we if we ignore our own issues and only seek to help other countries with theres?

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? -Matthew 7:3

“…for we must Consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us;” -John Winthrop