When I was in third grade, I was over-weight and the second tallest kid in my grade, boy or girl. Anne was taller than me and thin. I also was in the slow reading group, but when it came to recess, I was picked to play dodge ball or baseball long before several of the boys.
Sometime early in the school year someone started to call me Bozo. You Baby Boomers probably remember Bozo the Clown. It was not a term of endearment….
And it stuck.
All year and into fourth grade I was often “Bozo” to my classmates. It hurt. When I cried, I was told, “Big girls don’t cry.” I was coached to believe, that “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
But words DO hurt. My peers pestered me to the breaking point more than once and I lashed out with a fist…. After all, I was bigger than most of them! =}
Then I really blew it… I stuck my foot in it royally, unintentionally.
When we lived in Africa, a recently widowed Missionary with her three children stayed to continue the work. One day her oldest was riding his bike when he was hit by a car and died instantly.
Visiting her before she buried her son, I did not know what to say. So, instead of saying that, or better yet saying nothing, I said one of those stupid things people say when they really should keep their mouths shut. She never spoke to me again.
I tried several times over the years to talk with her to apologize. I was able to talk with her daughter over the phone once, but the woman would not take my call. My words hurt another, deeply….
So, how do we move on from those things? How do we disarm the pain so we are not stuck?
We disarm by forgiving through the power and grace of God, finding and focusing on the truth, and allowing time to bring healing.*
1) I have forgiven those who called me Bozo. But forgiveness is both a moment in time choice, and a process. I have been through a season, or few, of seeking genuine transformation of my life. The “Bozo thing” came up repeatedly several times over a long period. I chose to forgive, but the lie was so well planted in me that it became part of my foundational beliefs about myself. Each time it came up, (I was not looking for it but God was not finished,) I continued to release the lie and the people who were used to plant it in me.
I also needed to forgive myself and give myself grace. My comments deeply wounded another. Romans 12:18 tells us: “If possible, so much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” I tried to reconcile. I have to let go. I pray she has released my stupid words. The result of not forgiving is a root of bitterness. It only hurts me. So I continually release. Jesus has paid the price in full.
2) Whenever we believe a lie, we have to do more than just say the words “I don’t believe it anymore.” We have to find the truth to replace the lie. Hint, the truth is usually the opposite meaning of the lie. I am not Bozo the Clown! I am a bright woman, with plenty of strengths. There is, however, more solid truth to depend on than circumstance: Who the word of God says I am. There are so many good truths for all of us. I encourage you to find the ones that apply to your circumstances. The root lie for me was “I am unworthy.”
A few truths that have helped me: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139 is a great place to begin.) “I have been bought with a price.” (Gal 2:20) Rom 5:8 “but, God shows his love for us, in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”
There are so may more!
3) Time. It does not heal everything, certainly not by itself, but coupled with grace and truth, time is an important part of the healing process. It took time for the lies to integrate. We can disarm them in a second, but the longer we have been captive to them, time becomes our friend to learn the new ways to think and act differently and grow into our God designed freedom.
A small “disclaimer”: These three steps are always helpful, but sometimes “stuff” keeps coming back up. I did not have any emotional reaction to Bozo for years. Then just last week, Abba began to clarify some of my future to me. seemingly out of nowhere “Bozo” struck a chord again! After some prayer about it, I have two thoughts to add.
First, there may have been a little residual piece of that lie still “lodged in my foundation” that has worked its way up and out.
Second, because the clarifications about my future have a lot to do with things that I was good at when I was young, but I put away for many years, the lie tries to come back to discourage me from stepping fully into what I have always been intended to do and be now that I am older. Either way, a lie is a lie.
Take a few seconds to see if you have something in your past to disarm. Do not become introspective. Just ask God and listen. If yes, Thank God he is showing you, then try the steps. If not, thank God you are set for now and have a blessed day!
May you have all the grace truth and time you require to walk in the fullness God made you for!
In HIS grip,
*The wooden cross is hand-made by Bob Masterson. They come in many sizes and he sells them. Each one is different and beautiful. Please contact me if you are interested.
*These points come from Henry Cloud’s book, Changes That Heal