The toxic harpies from the Belvedere Tennis Club have been particularly loud and nasty these past months. They screech with delight over my every failing—every time I raise my voice or, God forbid, actually yell at my kids, they keel over in gloating glee. Every time I question my worth or my calling, they cackle and cry, “Poser! Fraud! Hypocrite!” Every time I feel overwhelmed by my life, they spit poison in my ears.
See, they hiss through their blood-red lipstick, you failed again. You’ll never be any better than you are now. You may as well give up. Despair and die.
After a particularly nasty bout with the witches one morning, I was driving my kids to the library. I apologized to Ben for shouting at him, and a soft, gentle voice wafted right under the harpies’ shrilling. At least you apologized. You can see when you’re wrong and admit it. Don’t despair.
I silently wondered if that might be the voice of Jesus.
I heard gentle laughter—gentle laughter—and a dare to believe that it was, in fact, Jesus speaking.
Even if it wasn’t, the point is: God is not a harpy. God would never tell me to despair. God does not speak with the voice of the Accuser. A bruised reed He will not break; a smoldering wick He will not snuff out.
How many times will I have to learn this same lesson? How many days will I continue to listen to the harpies and their hateful hounding? How long until I get mad enough to say once and for all, “Enough!”
I’m getting close, I think. I have become so disgusted with living in fear of the harpies and worrying if I’ve blown it and how to fix it and what to say or do to make it better that I actually wrote in my journal:
I am going to assume—expect!—that other people will respond to me with intelligence, respect, and grace simply because I am a human being. No other reason. Just that. I am human. Graceless people are the ones Jesus tells us to leave behind. ‘Shake the dust of their town off your feet as you leave,’ He told the disciples. In other words, don’t worry about them.
God will take care of the graceless people who cross my path, whose unkind words still scream in my ears. I cannot make them like me, love me, approve of me, or forgive me. And I want to stop trying. I want to shake the dust of their toxicity off my feet, off my heart, out of my soul.
And yet, I know my lifelong habit of seeing myself through the critical eyes of the harpies at the Tennis Club will not erode overnight. There are people in my past who have reinforced the harpies’ voices, who have embodied their nasty words and stabbed them deep into my soul. You have such people, too. Everyone does. It’s part of being human. Some people refuse grace—and there’s nothing the rest of us can do about it, except pray for them and refuse to listen to their lies.
Because they’re liars. They seem to speak truth, but it’s a mangled, twisted, graceless perversion—a kernel of truth mixed with mud and slime, just enough truth to get me to swallow their nasty pill. I must—we all must—fight the lies of the harpies in our heads (and the real life ones, too) with Truth.
“What is truth?” Pilate asked.
But truth is not a what. Truth is a Who. Jesus is truth, and not just any old truth. He is The Truth.
And He says, “As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you. Abide in My love.”
Abide in My love.
That is how we fight the lies of the harpies. We cling to Jesus. We abide in His love. We preach to ourselves every minute of every day if we have to: God loves you. God lives in you. You are God’s beloved daughter, God’s beloved Son. You are the spitting image of your Father in Heaven, who loves you with an everlasting love.
And anyone who says otherwise is a liar. Anyone who acts otherwise is a liar.
Abiding in Jesus’ love, knowing that He calls us by name and loves us—this is power, friends! We are in a position of power—but we trade our power for a lie, and we cringe beneath the weight of that lie.
If we must be weighed down, let it be with glory. (Did you know the Hebrew word kavod means both weight and glory?) Let us feel the weight of glory—the glory of God, which is you, me, any human being…fully alive. That’s what Church Father Irenaeus once wrote: “The glory of God is a human being fully alive.”
What makes you come alive?
I bet you ten million dollars it’s not the harpies. So stop listening to them. Tell them to shut up. Or eff off. Whatever it takes. And then listen to your life. Ask yourself what makes you come alive.
For me, it’s the written word—both reading it and writing it. When it’s well-crafted and beautiful or captures an image or emotion or evokes a place or a person so vividly I can see it, smell it, taste it—that makes me almost giddy with joy. That makes me come alive as nothing else can. And whether I’ve written the words or someone else has, I want to share them with others, to say, “Look! Look here! Isn’t this beautiful?”
I am most fully alive when I write…and when I share what I write with others. This realization is part of what brought me back to my blog after so many months away. This is what finally jerked my head away from my navel and got me to quit moaning about how almost no one reads my writing and maybe it’s a self-indulgent waste of time. This is what made me realize that it doesn’t matter if no one else reads it. Writing the words makes me come alive, and what the world needs is people who have come alive.
So I choose not to listen to the harpies who tell me I can’t or I shouldn’t or I’m wasting my time or who do I think I am anyway, who say I’m a fake and a fraud and a poser. It’s a daily choice, sometimes a minute by minute choice. I choose to call them what they are: liars.
I choose to listen to the Truth of Jesus who says I can and I should and life is short and why are you wasting it listening to lies when you could be living freely and fully and utterly alive in My love? I choose to abide in His love—again, a daily, hourly, minute-ly choice.
I choose to be alive. I choose the weight of that glory.