Like many little girls, I was a tomboy and thought that was better than the alternative, whatever that was. In fact, one of my favorite things about listening to my dad’s stories about me as a kid is that all the neighborhood boys were scared to play street hockey with his little girl. I bet he’d say they still are. I relished their fear then and would probably today.
In the intervening years, I traded the hockey stick for shame, a losing trade for me and a winning one for the Enemy.
The Merriam-Webster definition states that shame is “a feeling of guilt, regret, or sadness that [a person has] because [she knows she has] done something wrong.” That would suggest that if the person were able to remedy the wrong, the shame would fall away. Yet it lingers. My pastor often speaks of shame, and he defines it as the belief that we are wrong. Now I see why the feeling lingers. If I am wrong, then there is nothing I can do to be right. That’s a lie.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. As a child, I used to say this to myself when other children would tease me; they would say it back to me when I teased them. As I grew older, the names started to hurt and the sticks and stones were never thrown hard enough to break a bone.
Yet before I ever recognized a word’s power to kill, steal, and destroy, I was dead, alone, and weak. I had listened to other people’s words until they became my own words about myself. I repeated them often. This version of Danielle is foreign to me now, despite our having spent so many years together. Occasionally, she returns and I meet with her for nostalgia’s sake; then I remember nostalgia is a master of disguise. I don’t want to go back.
The journey to discovering my identity through Christ began in earnest after reading these lines from the Song of Solomon:
Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.
What makes these words beautiful and powerful is that they are true, no matter what I think. They are “God-breathed,” as Paul says of the Word in 2 Timothy 3:16. I am not a mistake.
The Enemy gave me false words and I let them break my spirit. But the Father’s words lifted me up. So when nostalgia comes beckoning, I remind myself that I am a blood-bought child of the King and open His Word:
For [I] have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
On the Cover
Popularly called Spanish Flag or firecracker, this member of the morning glory family produces masses of dazzling 1.5-inch tubular flowers that mature from soft lemon yellow through orange and deep rusty red and attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Photography by Pamela Dunn-Parrish