The Voice of the Accuser

“What did you do this summer?” she asks.

I struggle to come up with a decent answer–an appropriate answer. I want to say, “Apart from trying to write a thesis blind, you mean?”

“Uh, I’ve been canning, and blogging–”

“You’ve been canning?” Her incredulosity makes me want to shrink out of the room. It sounds so frivolous, so ridiculous.

After I’ve left, my mind whirls over the dozens of things I could have said to justify my summer. I helped my brother and sister-in-law with their wedding. I drove my mom to see my grandparents. I completed two quilts, a couple of pillow shams, a dresser scarf, and over a dozen potholders. I crocheted a scarf and a half dozen dishcloths. I embroidered a set of day-of-the-week tea towels. I cleaned my house and prepared meals. I babysat and helped a friend weed. I applied for jobs and went to interviews. I read and reviewed books. I blogged. I canned. I rode bicycles with a friend. And, of course, I tried to write a thesis blind.

Even as I contemplate what I’ve done this summer, I know it would have been pointless to mention it. I think back to her raised eyebrows when I read over my lunch break. “What are you reading?–Ugh, why are you reading that?” I remember the countless questions–“How many hours are you taking?”–and the snorts when I say it’s important that I spend time with church and family. The implicit message, etched into me with every interaction?

You don’t do enough. You don’t work hard enough. The stuff you spend your time on is worthless. You are worthless.

My heart believes her message even as my head rebels.

I do work hard. I don’t waste my time on frivolous things. Relationships are important. I’m not worthless.

She is the voice I’ve heard since before I ever met her, the voice that held me in bondage for years. It labels me insufficient, unlovely, incomplete, a failure. The voice that once, inside my head, told me “You’ll never amount to anything. You have all these goals but what have you ever done?”–that voice is now an external voice, attached to a face, to a woman, my accuser. “Just give up,” it says. “You don’t have anything worthwhile to contribute. You’re a waste of time, of energy. Take the easy way out.”

I firmly tell her NO–I’m not taking the easy way out. I’m not going to quit. I’m not a failure. My ideas have merit, my work is worthwhile. I’m not going to argue with her evaluation of me–I know by now that it does no good. But I’m not going to bow to her evaluation of me either. I’m not going to bow to the accuser who says I’m still in my chains.

I’m going to take my heart–that heart that’s smarting from wounds inflicted years ago, that heart whose wounds have been reopened by her word’s claw–I’m going to take my heart to the Great Physician who bore my wounds already. He bore my insufficiency, my unloveliness, my incompleteness. The stripes on His back are my heart’s healing. He took my worthlessness, granting me worth. He bore my wrongness, giving me righteousness. He experienced my failure, and declared success.

I’m taking my heart to Jesus–for by His wounds, I am healed.

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