If you’ve ever read the novel, The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, you are familiar with the main character, Hester Prynne, who was publicly punished for having an affair. Her punishment included imprisonment and standing in the town square for hours wearing a red A on her clothing (the A stood for adulteress.) Hester had a child by her lover but chose to never disclose who the lover was despite the threatening pressure she endured. In fact, the only time she fought back was when select townspeople threatened to take her child away when the child started acting out. The story is full of deception, secret lives and guilt stricken consciences. In the end, Hester carries on, wearing her scarlet A with no healing from the mistake she made.
I am a modern day Hester. Now before I go any further let me clarify-this is NOT a confession of having an affair nor am I pregnant with a love child. But-I have made some pretty sinful mistakes in my life and if I had lived in the puritan era like Hester, I would’ve been her cell mate. My scarlet letter probably would have covered my entire body. Like I said, this is not a confession. In fact, guilt rarely even has control over me anymore. This is transparency for my readers in hopes to raise awareness of forgiveness, mercy, grace and healing.
I was called a “loser” recently. Being call that not only shocked me but it greatly stung. In fact, in nearly knocked me down. I was called a loser because of a mistake I made. It was a mistake made from a broken heart and out of mass confusion. I confessed it not only to God but to the person who called me this name trusting that person would be understanding and forgiving. They weren’t. They were angry and instead of mercy and grace, they verbally pinned me with a big old scarlet L (for loser.) This is not the first time I’ve been called names for making a mistake. My “favorites” are being called “a head case” when I had post-partum depression, and “a financial disaster” because I struggle with money management.
We are all human. We ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23.) David was an adulterer and a murderer. Do you know what God did to him? Made him king of Judah. Moses was also a murderer and a coward. God chose him to take on Pharaoh and lead God’s chosen people out of slavery. Rahab was a prostitute and God used her to hide His spies who came later to conquer the city she lived in. God did punish them-David and Bathsheba lost the child that was conceived by their affair. Moses was exiled for 40 years after committing murder and I’m sure Rahab lived a fairly miserable life as a prostitute. But God also redeemed them. And once redeemed, He then promoted them! That’s just how God works.
God doesn’t call us names. If He is tearing us down it’s only to remove the bad. Any tear down from God is guaranteed to have a major build up and fill up with His forgiveness, grace and mercy. God calls us to the do same with each other. His word is full of scriptures like; “But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith… (Jude 1:21), “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11), “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:23-25) and “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8.) The Bible does call us to admonish one another but He does not call us to shame or condemn one another. In fact, He says the opposite in Romans 8:1; “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” That verse is pretty straight forward and if your Christian walk is anything like mine then we both need straight forward, aye?
Driving to work today, God reminded me of Hawthorne’s novel. He played a Casting Crowns song for me on the radio with these lyrics,
“Not because of who I am
But because of what You’ve done.
Not because of what I’ve done
But because of who You are…
Lord, You catch me when I’m falling.
And You’ve told me who I am.
I am Yours, I am Yours…
Who am I, that the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love and watch me rise again?” ~Who am I
He then spoke to me with these words, “You don’t wear a scarlet A or L, Beloved. The blood I shed on the cross for you removed every transgression I knew you would commit in your lifetime. Beloved, the cross took that A and L away. I have emblazoned you with a new letter-a V, washed white as snow. It stands for the victory you have in Me.”
Ironically, when googling those above song lyrics, I stumbled upon the lyrics to one of my favorite songs by Jessica Andrews. It’s called, Who I am. The second verse in this song is my anthem;
“So when I make big mistake
When I fall flat on my face
I know I’ll be alright
Should my tender heart be broken
I will cry those teardrops knowin’
I will be just fine
‘Cause nothin’ changes who I am..”
I know who I am. I am not a loser, a head case or a financial disaster. Who am I? A modern day Hester redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ. I AM the DAUGHTER of the ONE TRUE KING, His Princess and His only. No cruel word will ever change that.
For those living in a pit of guilt and shame-get out! Shake it off and straighten your crown. For you too are redeemed, washed white as snow and wear a V for victory on your heart. Live victoriously as the son or daughter of Christ that you were made to be. For those casting stones, stop it! Stop forming a firing squad. If your heart is hurting and your angry then pause and pray. Ask God to fill you with the grace and mercy for those whose mistakes hurt you. But remember what Jesus said to the Pharisees who wanted to condemn a woman caught in adultery in John 8:7, “They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” God called us to be bridge builders-not stone throwers.