We all have inner voices– the ones who sneer at us.  Our inner critics who constantly let us know just how much we fall short.  Who berate our reflection in the mirror and ask us over and over and over again, “Who would ever waste their time on a creature like you?”  Maybe they start out as external voices– kids on the playground, abusive parents, even people at church.  They are the ones who first let us know that there is something very wrong with us, the ones who told us, through word or action, that we weren’t worth their time.

         There’s an old adage that says, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”  How untrue that turned out to be for most of us.  See the thing about words is that as long as they stay outside of us they really can’t hurt us.  But they don’t stay outside.  We let them in, and once they’re in, they take on a life of their own, digging roots deep into our hearts and holding on, growing, draining the life out of us until it’s hard to feel anything anymore.

         Satan wants us to listen to our critics, to be taken in until we either forget the truth or, better yet, until we just can’t believe the truth anymore.  His goal is to make us forget who we are– children of God, made in his image, strong, beautiful, capable.  He wants us to doubt that we have a future, that we are loved, that we are valuable because God gives us value.

         This woman lived under the oppression of her own shame, her own self-loathing.  But when she met Jesus, his words freed her soul, and she was given a gift.  Through the grace of Jesus Christ, she was given the power to look her critics, within and without, in the eye and say, No.  I’m not going to let you define me any longer.  I am a child of God.  Jesus showed me, told me.  Not one thing I’ve done can count against me anymore.  I am forgiven.

         And with that veil of lies lifted, she was finally able to see herself through the eyes of Christ– a beautiful, sinless woman with a firm hope and a bright future.  And for the first time in her life, she really was able to go in peace.