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.