I hurled the phone across the kitchen, where it banged against the wall just below the oven and clattered to the floor in pieces. Gathering my weary heart, I crossed to fetch it. Ugh. The plastic notches wouldn’t snap back in place, leaving random, unhooked wires and doobobs. And I was left with no ability to fix the conversation I’d just botched. Mercy.
The phone hurling had come with good reason. My ministry-minded husband and ministry-minded me found our tidy world shattering. Our family with two beautiful teens was coming undone through an unexpected expectancy, substance abuse and this, that and the other unimaginable ordeal. Pain. Pain. Pain.
In my most stripped-down, honest moments, I realized that I rarely really believe God’s pronouncement of good over me. More quickly I tune my ears in to the Hiss of Genesis’ curse: God does not love you! How did this ancient murmur become so powerful in my modern life?
I think back to a moment with my father when I was five years old. He had 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.” Hisssssss! God does not love you!
The Hiss continued as I faced the harsh truth that my mother couldn’t be stable for me. She 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 kitchen floor, Ajaxing ashtrays . . . Hisssssss! 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 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!
This is the promise that God created me to live under: God loves me. Period.
Rather than abandoning me to act sinfully, God invites me into acting saved. Rather than leaving me indentured as a slave to shame, God releases me to unfettered freedom. Rather than only rescuing me from how I’ve been wounded, God heals me whole, as if the evil never occurred.
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!
Elisa’s new book, “Hello Beauty Full: Seeing Yourself As God Sees You,” releases September 29, and is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and ChristianBook.com.