They say you gotta live free.
But when my Uncle Paul started chasing me through the house with that snake when I was four?
I found out you could live mostly with eyes just bugging out of your head, the lying fears strangling you right there at your thinning neck.
Sure, he didn’t mean anything by it. Uncle Paul, he’d just turn out the lights in the yellow-tiled farm kitchen. Then he’d flick on the flashlight and spin it round till the light was all flooding up that glossy, two page National Geographic spread.
That spread of a beady-eyed snake with its mouth sprung wide open like some fanged cavern ready to pierce me, devour me, erase me. Yeah, that was the beginning.
You can spend your one wild life trying to outrun glossy lies.
Grade 4, Josie Miller* said I must be wearing clothes from the bottom of some garbage bag from the Sally Ann.
(Which wasn’t actually true. We wore what my Mama found on 25 cent Day at the Salvation Army (it was only my Grandma Ruth who called it the Sally Ann) and actually, you could pick from whatever thrifted clothes you could find from any shelf. Plastic bags were merely optional.) But yeah, whatever — I still let that glossy lie of ugliness snake up me a bit.
So when Melissa Truscott* said I was butt ugly, you can bet I felt the venom of it.
And when Mrs. Munford* said I wasn’t really smart enough for her class — “You only made it in here by the skin of your teeth, Little Miss Ann, and don’t you ever forget it” — I never did. Not one day ever.
And not one day ever did I miss turning down the sheets slow and careful, because there could be snakes curled and lurking between the cotton. There can be lies about ready to poison you everywhere you turn.
Lies that began in the beginning, that start in your Garden, that hissed with masked innocence, “Did God really say…?” And the doubt all bit us.
You can look at your face there in the mirror every morning and look right into your eyes and you can feel the hiss slithering right up the nape of your neck: ”Just look at you — you’re damaged goods. You’re never going to be good enough, smart enough, together enough, liked enough, wanted enough, to do anything that counts enough.”
You can hear it everywhere you turn, the deafening auto replay stuck right there in your caged head:
“Loser! Time Abuser! Mess Producer!
Who needs you?
She’s so much better, just look at her?
You actually thought that was a good idea?
Open your mouth and they’ll laugh long enough you’ll shut your mouth
You aren’t productive enough,
You aren’t good enough
You aren’t enough
Who do you think you are?“
There can be a lying snake curled between your neural membranes and his lies can run poison in your veins.
I ain’t four anymore but I still got glossy lies flashing fangs at me. I got these lies that slither out of the most unexpected places and I got fears that make me freeze:
Fear of failing, fear of flailing, fear of arrows, fear of the way marked narrow, fear of that sheer rock in front of me that begs me to believe and be brave and climb.
Climb out of that drugged, dead comforting pit they call the status quo (otherwise knows as “you just paralyzed”) and break right up through the earth and into the life you were born for, in the now of your life, while there is still time and hunger in your veins.
Turn around and shake off that snake
Because its head’s been long crushed, no — pulverized
So, for the sake of God and you still breathing with time—- let go of the lie.
Roll over and look at those beady-eyed lies and see that they’re nothing more than pixels on a page that have no real teeth. That the lies are nothing but a glossy 2 page spread of some mirage that no longer exists — let go of the lies.
“Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?” (Isa.44:20)
I don’t know when I stopped stripping down the bed just in case there’s a snake. I do know that one day you just gotta look in the mirror and do it:
Take that glint sharp edge of His Word and hack that snake creeping up the back of your neck.
You’re not strong enough to do this.
“Jesus is my strength and my ever present help.” (Psalm 46:1)
You’re not brave enough to do this.
“Jesus is with me wherever I go — so I don’t need spend one second being afraid or discouraged.” (Joshua 1:9)
You’ve messed up too much to have any hope now.
“I’m in Jesus, so I’m being made new. The old has passed away; behold, all things become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
You should give up now because you are in over your head, because you can’t get it together, because you will never be anything but less than.
And you take that glint sharp edge of His Word and hack that snake creeping up the back of your neck:
I am free forever from any condemnation
and I know that all things work together for good
and absolutely nothing can separate me from the love of God
and I have been established, anointed, and sealed by God, hidden with Christ, and I am unshakeably confident that the good work God has begun in me will be perfected, that I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind and I know I can find grace and mercy in time of need —-
I am born of God, and the evil one cannot touch me!
The bottom line, Lie-Crushing Truth is simply this:
I am loved … because I am chosen by Jesus
I am known … because I am named by Jesus
I am fearless … because I am safe in Jesus
I am brave … because I am always with Jesus.
Jesus breaks snakes.
Jesus breaks lies.
Jesus breaks the lying chains of “not enough” with the defying truth of I AM Enough and in Me there is always enough.
And Jesus gives you the One Life Hack that you need: the sharp edge of His Word. It’ll kill snakes. It’ll shake off that snake. Jesus’ Word is the one Life Hack that you need —-
Because the Word is the only Life Hack that will hack up the lies from the pit and let you live free.
On the table in the kitchen, there’s the sheets of His Word turned back, left open, these 2 page spreads that keep spreading out freedom. The lights are all left on now.
And there are these women now who never, not one day ever, miss saying it brave and loud:
Shake off the snake.
Let go of the Lie.