With sweaty palms and trembling hands I pull the marker from its lid. Bright and bleeding, its shiny red smears as tip touches forehead in slow motion. In backward lettering, with reflection’s guide, I engrave my feelings:
I wrote myself off a long time ago, on the inside, anyway. But now it seems proper to wear my scarlet letters for all to see – a forewarning of my lack. Expectation will be their sin; judgment their discretion. And when disappointment looms as it most assuredly will, they can’t say they didn’t know.
But one day in prayer, He showed up – He asked about my letters. I explained myself, He understood, told me to leave them there. “The capitals can stay – they’re my favorite color. I’ll just write over them, make them bold and new.” And as He carved, letter on letter, with the blood from the holes in His hands, my label took on a whole new meaning:
C - clean
A - absolved
N - new
C - cherished
E - exonerated
L - liberated
L - loved
E - emancipated
D - daughter
Now in the mirror when I see that word, I think of His love, not my lack. And I remember the day He cancelled my cancelled – the day His blood made my letters new.
Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. – Psalm 103:1-5, 8-14 (NIV)