Dear Mara,

May I ask about your name? Mara. Bitter. You weren’t born with it, I know. You don’t have to choose to live with it. And you certainly don’t want to die with it.

What rogue seed ground its way into the soil of your life? Do you remember?
Words that punched and tore the fragile membrane of your heart?
Betrayal that exploded from the inside out?
Loss that left your roots and nerves exposed and burning with every touch?

Mara, perhaps it was a million stoney seeds that cracked into you, or maybe it was one. giant. thing. Whatever the circumstance, let me lean toward you and say with my whole heart, I am so sorry. I’d like to join you in your memory of that point of impact. You can cry if you want to, or if all your tears have long dried up, we can just sit for a spell and I will loan you all my sorrow and compassion.

(sitting together a while)

Mara, I know that like your namesake from centuries ago, you have shrugged into this name, this ill fitting, hot, itchy cloak of a name and you’ve worn it for so long that it feels like yours. Your name, your identity: Bitter. You probably didn’t even realize that when the surface of your life fractured, a tiny seed fell into the crack and made it’s home there in the hurt, burrowed in the tangle of shrapnel left behind by the words, the wounds, the why.

And like seeds do, in time Bitterness sprouted, not a tender green root of life, but a sharp thorny root that dug in and began to grow. And grow. And grow until the thorny, twisted thing of it made itself at home in you, convincing you that loving that vile root was the best way to love yourself, defend yourself, heal yourself.

And so, you chose to feed the Bitter
washed its leaves with the water of your attention
curled up in its false warmth
nurtured it like it was a friend

while it went about its task of strangling you to death.

Oh Mara, turn to Jesus! See Him on His cross, bound by your Bitter vine, held to the splintered wood, the poison of it seeping into His own body, strangling HIM, killing HIM. See His chest heave as He paid the price for your Bitter Root, hear His cry as he pulled it into death with Him —
It. Is. Finished.

Mara. It is finished.
He has so much more for you than this.

You are not your own, and you certainly are not owned by this invader, this imposter, this Bitterness. Mara, You were bought with a price by the One who named you from before time began. Your name, your true name, is inscribed on the palm of the hand of the Maker of heaven and earth. He did not rescue you from the domain of darkness to hand you back to it, Mara. He did not open His hand and let you run off its edge to hang and swing and cling to the vine of Bitter. Let’s say it together:
Enough, Vile Root.
Enough, Preserver of Self.
Enough, Thief.
The Lord hears. He forgives. He redeems.
May Mara be no more. Her day is finished.

Before time began, your name was on his lips, a name that holds a mysterious myriad of meaning. Enclosed and sealed inside your name are words like:
Child.
Little one.
Redeemed.
Forgiven.
Cherished.
Beloved.

Hear Him call your name on the breeze, feel the zip of air rush by as His sword cuts the root from its place. Let the air rush in even as He pulls and pulls the vine from you.

Let Him rid you of this home invader. Throw off the cloak of oppression that the vine has woven across your heart. Bow as He takes his rightful place on the throne of your being. Breathe the clean air, stretch your arms high. Adore him. Worship him. Open your mouth and let Him remove Mara from you and fill you with a song of rejoicing.
Look ahead, friend. The day is coming when you will hear Him say your name with His very own lips. You will run your fingers over the palm of His hand where the proof still puckers his skin even today that declares now and forever: you are HIS and He is yours.

I can’t wait to see you in person, to sit at the table at the Great Feast and hear the music from the mouth of the Lord as He sings out our true names face to face.

Looking forward to forever,
Shannon