No More Self Loathing

forgiveness

We know God forgives us, because He says if we repent, He forgives us of our sins.

We even forgive others (with His help).

Yet…

We struggle to forgive ourselves.

Living in regret and shame keeps us in bondage. This is not God’s will for us.

We start getting ahead and then that ol’ lying devil comes and reminds us of all of our failures, our past sins, bad choices, and the people we have hurt along the way. Our minds get filled with “if only I’s…”

My friend, please hear me when I say this…

God is BIGGER! He knows where you have been. He knows how you have been hurt and who you have hurt. He knows, He knows, He knows… But that did not stop Him from redeeming you! It does not stop Him from loving you! It does not cause Him to reject you!

Are you tormented by your past? Is your heart still breaking for those you have hurt? My dear friend, His Holy Spirit is able to do far more than anything you could ever do. Do you not know He cares for you AND those you care for?

You can not back track. Nothing you can do can change where you have been.  But, if you  forgive yourself, make restitution if you have to, but do not be bound any longer to the past… if you will do this, then you will be free and healed.

You are not the same person you were before. You are a new creation! You are redeemed! You are His now!

Call on Jesus, my friend. Cry out to Him. Give it to Him. Open your mouth and your heart and just lay it all down at His feet and trust Him to work it out.

Be Free & Stay Free

 

If I could change One Thing…

One-Thing1

If you could go back in time and change one thing, have one do-over, what would it be? Have you ever wondered?

I had several answers when I first thought about this question. My mind quickly recalled times when I said yes when I should have said no, or said no when I should have said yes, yada yada. My answers always involved someone else.

A lesson I am learning and trying to practice (God help me), is to  stop pointing fingers, getting my feelings hurt, and shrinking back from the only person I can change… me.

In a spirit of thankfulness, I am reminded of Romans 8:28, and I have to thank God that He is true to His word. Instead of walking in regret I can hold my head up and learn from the past and not carry it into the future (or the present).

While it may be true that the past has formed us into who we are today, truer still is His grace and forgiveness can turn all the ashes into beauty, if we let Him. Healing and deliverance is found only through Him.

One thing I have learned, is to ask for help.

I have created many a mess by not asking for help. Pride and fear kept me silent.  I was drowning with a smile on my face and the whole time I was saying, “I’m good, I’m fine, I got this under control.”

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Here’s the thing about lessons; they are learned as an after affect, and sometimes experience can be an unforgiving tutor.

I think about the prodigal son and if he would have asked for help sooner, maybe he would have never had to be a connoisseur of pig slop.

There is safety in numbers. We are to surround ourselves with other Christian believers. The Father, who sent His Son to reconcile us to Him, is a Father of intimate relationship.  Since He has gone through such great effort to restore us into fellowship with Him, we can trust and believe that relationship with His body is important. We were not created to be an island unto ourselves. We are not wounded animals to go off into isolation and die by ourselves. We were created in His image and likeness to be in communion with Him, through Him, and with others.

As I walk this out, and sometimes I may stumble, I am learning I am only responsible for myself, my own actions, and before my actions turn into reactions, ask for help.

What do you think? I would love to hear from you, feel free to leave a comment below.

Be Free & Stay Free

 

 

Ultimate Makeover

who-am-i

The question we all ask ourselves, huh. Who am I?

For many, the answer to this question changes depending on the season.  Sadly too many base the answer on emotions, experiences, or what others have said about us; as if someones opinions define us.

Times and seasons change. Society is a fickle people. With the ever increasing need in the world to be the best, it is not hard to understand why so many feel they are in competition. It is no wonder so many young girls are insecure and so many women are broken. Shew, it is even a no wonder why men do not even know how to be men anymore.

We have been robbed of our individual gifts and uniqueness. In all of the trying to fit in and be like everyone else to please someone else…

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You have heard the saying it is the suit that makes the man and the shoes that make the woman. Nope, that is not true and I have the sore feet to prove it.

who-are-you-really-21449257The beauty industry is making a lot of money on peoples insecurities. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying there is anything wrong with dressing up the outside, there is nothing wrong with accentuating the beauty we already have. Shew, some of us need some help. But, my dear friend, beneath everything, all the make-up, newest fashion, hair color, you are still you and I am still me. No amount of make-up is going to take the place of the inner peace and desire for acceptance we all have.

There is only One who can give you the peace you yearn for and He already accepts you. He created you, you are His masterpiece, with His very own hands He formed you.  He put so much detail in you that He knows the number of hairs on your head, He knows how many times your heart will beat, He knows where you will live, He knows your first day and your last breath. In addition to all of this, He gave you gifts and entrusted you with gifts to use to glorify Him.

While you may be looking around and comparing yourself to others, you do not even recognize what and Who He has placed in you and you do not see the one person only you can reach, or problem only you have the answer to. So you walk around, bent over, looking at your feet instead of lifting your head and knowing who you really are and Who you belong to. Royalty should not live like paupers. It is unbecoming to wallow in the pig pen and eat slop when your Father is the King.

And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from [one degree of] glory to [even more] glory, which comes from the Lord, [who is] the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

I am going to get personal with you for a minute, OK.  I didn’t meet Jesus personally until I was already an adult in my 30’s. Before Christ, I had already racked up a long laundry list of what was wrong with me; from childhood and on.  I made choices based on fear and insecurities that were ingrained in me. I believed every lie and was on the path to confirm every lie was truth.

After I met Christ, although all my sins were forgiven, I still harbored guilt and shame. Of course this was concealed very well; so well that I didn’t even fully realize I was carrying all the heavy baggage until later…

Then little by little my slip started to show (know what I mean, ladies?). So I tried to pull it up, tuck it in, cover it up, because I am a Christian and Christians aren’t suppose to have these issues.  The more I tried to cover it the heavier it got and on top of it all I took it upon myself to add shame, guilt, regret, and perhaps a lil’ unforgiveness to my suitcase.

I looked like this…

suitcase
Nah, I’m good, I don’t need any help,      I got this.

I just couldn’t understand why everything was going to pot; no matter how much I prayed or read my Bible. I was good at encouraging other people and believing the word, God’s promises for them, but not for myself… I was a mess.

You know why? Because I was sitting outside of the palace eating in the pig pen. I knew I was saved. I knew God loved me (even though I couldn’t understand why), but His word said He did so He must, right.

ThiefIt is like locking your door, but leaving your window open. Sooner or later the thief is going to try to break in and steal your stuff.

Jesus told us the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy.  He also told us that Satan is the father of lies.  When we believe anything contrary to what God’s word says, we are to cast it down, because it is a lie. We are not to believe it!  But it doesn’t stop here!

When you know God’s word, you can recognize the lie and you must combat the lie with the truth!  You can’t just ignore the devil and hope he goes away. No! You have to kick him out! He takes your silence as agreement. You have to open your mouth.

God has already set you free! To walk in His freedom you must take the steps. If you want out of the prison cell of shame, regret, fear, insecurity then you must walk through the open door.

Dear prodigal, do you not know your Father is waiting for you? Sweet woman, there is no need to die of thirst at the well when He gives you springs of life and a refreshing that overflows and never stops.

Stop looking at the outward appearance. Your beauty is deeper than flesh and your worth is far more valuable than rubies.

The next time that lying demon whispers in your ear you put your foot down, stand your ground and fight back with God’s truth!

I am leaving you with some thoughts, ammunition, to get you started. Read it, meditate on it, remember it, AND BELIEVE IT!

This is God’s word and God doesn’t lie. This is the truth of who you are!

If you would like to share more of Gods promises to us, please leave a comment below.

Until I write again, or we meet in heaven…

Be Free & Stay Free

 

Safe in the Storm

cross

I cling to the cross when the storms roll in and the dark clouds try to distort my vision. The work Christ did and completed on the cross is my anchor.

When the waves tempt me to row in the opposite direction, Jesus calls me to the stern and He tells me to rest.

I have no need to fear when the One who created heaven and earth and speaks to every storm (even the waves obey Him) holds me in the palm of His hand.

My eyes do not have to see what my faith believes.

He is andI find my being.

Be Free & Stay Free 

 

 

Choose Life

baby-in-womb

At the risk of being vulnerable and judged, I am going to share something personal and trust God will use this part of my testimony to help someone; even if it is only one person. I have always tried to be true and honest with my writing. My heart is to reach and minister to the lost and hurting; but to be completely honest we must share our testimony and not be afraid or ashamed. When we can be open, transparent, and fearless, then we know we have been healed.

I am in a group of wonderful ladies from all walks of life. Everyday I read their posts, some make me laugh, some I cry, and some I learn from.  The other day a woman posted requesting prayer for her daughter as she was having a rainbow baby.

A “rainbow baby” is a baby that is born following a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or infant loss.In the real world, a beautiful and bright rainbow follows a storm and gives hope of things getting better. … A rainbow baby brings light but by no means replaces the angel baby. (kickscount.org)

Suddenly, without warning, I felt a knot in my stomach and a grief. This caught me off guard. The realization hit me; I have four (grown) children and three of them were rainbow babies. Every other pregnancy I had ended in miscarriage.

With the exception of one (I had a friend come alongside me), I grieved alone and silently for each. I was pregnant and then suddenly I wasn’t. I was carrying a baby and then suddenly I wasn’t. It was surreal. I mean, what do you do with a miscarriage? You never held the baby in your arms, you don’t even know if it was a boy or girl, so the baby has no name. For everyone else the child never existed, but for a mother carrying the baby in her womb, no matter how short, there can be no denial a life was lost.

This is where I am going to be real with you. In addition to the sadness of losing a baby, I also had guilt. I suppose in a way I didn’t feel I had a right to grieve and I probably deserved what happened. Maybe this is why I grieved alone, because I didn’t want anyone else to know why I felt so guilty and condemned.

I married my first husband very young and was a young mother. After my first baby was born, we found out I was pregnant again. My husband didn’t want another baby, things were not going well between us, I was young, he and his family were in the medical profession, so I believed them when they told me “it” was not a baby and I should have an abortion.  I was young, I didn’t know Jesus at the time, and even though it did not sit right with me…

“Pro-choice” (and I use that term loosely) people will tell you the life inside you is not a baby; in fact “it’s” not even life. They will paint the picture of just a “blood clot” to help you make the decision to have an abortion. After all, we are a modern day society and women have “choices/options” now.

I remember sitting in Planned Parenthood waiting for them to call my name. I was alone. Apparently the pregnancy was so insignificant that (my then) husband would not even go with me. There were other young girls in the waiting room, some alone, some with a boyfriend, and it almost seemed as though we were waiting at a dentist office to get a tooth pulled. Still, inside, my stomach was turning, it didn’t seem right.  I wanted to run out of there, but my husband…

So I allowed myself to believe “it” wasn’t a baby. I pushed it out of my mind. I blocked any feelings. But, privately, I felt… sad.

After this I had three more babies; beautiful and healthy daughters. In between each baby after my first, I had a miscarriage. I never really felt I had a right to grieve because of what I had done. I felt it was a rightful and deserving punishment for me. How could I possibly have a right to grieve when I participated in the death of the baby I was suppose to protect?

You see, I have shoved this so far down and denied it for too long. I never allowed myself to feel any kind of grief or loss, because I was afraid. I was scared of my feelings, regret, and truth. I was ashamed.

Why after all this time was I hit with this? It does debunk the myth that women who choose abortion will heal and will not have any residual emotions, doesn’t it?

Perhaps this is Gods way of saying to me, now is the time to share my testimony and receive complete healing. Healing is not only for the physical, it is emotional and spiritual. When we allow God to come in, He wants to heal us completely.

What I did not know then (30 years ago), I do know now; and that is Jesus came to set us free!

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12 

 This I can say confidently, it is well with my soul. I know when I get to heaven I will see my babies who have grown up before the Lord. 

If I could do it all over again, of course I would choose differently, but God knows.

baby

My dear friend, does this speak to you? Perhaps right now you are facing some tough choices. Can I tell you, a pregnancy may not have been wanted or planned, but there is no baby that is a mistake. We may sin, but a baby is not the sin, a baby is a blessing. You have other options besides abortion. Choose life! If you are not in a position, or want to be a mother right now, please know there are people out there who can and want to provide a loving home for your baby and support for you.

Every life is precious. Jesus has this to say about you and about your baby…

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you [and approved of you as My chosen instrument], and before you were born I consecrated you [to Myself as My own];
I have appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5 

If you have already traveled the dark path of abortion, there is still hope. There is forgiveness and healing in Jesus. You do not have to hide from Him. Come to Him and let Him cleanse you and make you new. You have not committed the unpardonable sin. Healing comes with repentance, my friend.

If you are struggling and you feel alone please reach out. There are Pregnancy Support Centers across our nation with wonderful loving people who want to help you.  They will come along side you and walk the journey of life with you.

A baby is a blessing. Choose life.

Be Free & Stay Free 

Beauty for Ashes

beauty

Shame does something to a person. It produces a judgement of guilt and unrelenting condemnation.

Shame distorts a person. It suffocates the future and feeds on regret. The showering of fear hinders growth and stifles a person from becoming who they were created to be.

When I think of people in the Bible who overcame shame, I see a common thread.

Think of the woman at the well, for example. Shame ostracized her right into isolation. Or how about Rahab the prostitute? You better believe she could clear a sidewalk when she walked down the street. Even Gideon hid because he was the least of the least; he didn’t see himself as a man of valor; but God did. The list could go on and on, because God chooses such people.

Do you know what they have in common? They encountered the living God!

Are you there, my friend? Are you carrying shame like a dirty little secret and trying to cover it with  lie upon lie; afraid of being exposed? Have you isolated yourself in your closet of regret and you no longer do the things you used to enjoy, you hide from people, your prayer life is non-existent, you don’t even read your Bible anymore, and your head is too heavy to hold up?

If this is you, then there is something you need to know. There is no sin so great that He can’t forgive. There is no wrong that He can’t make right and no reason your past has to rob you of your future.

Jesus came to set you free! Do you believe this?

When He gave His life for yours, He took the shame to the grave and left it there, and then He rose victorious! His victory is your victory.

He gives beauty for ashes. Do you believe?

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed and commissioned me
To bring good news to the humble and afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up [the wounds of] the brokenhearted,
To proclaim release [from confinement and condemnation] to the [physical and spiritual] captives
And freedom to prisoners,
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance and retribution of our God,
To comfort all who mourn,
To grant to those who mourn in Zion the following:
To give them a turban instead of dust [on their heads, a sign of mourning],
The oil of joy instead of mourning,
The garment [expressive] of praise instead of a disheartened spirit.
So they will be called the trees of righteousness [strong and magnificent, distinguished for integrity, justice, and right standing with God],
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:1-3

Call on Him. Repent and receive His forgiveness. Let it go. You have been created for so much more. When He formed you, He held you in His hands and He said, “It is good.”

We make mistakes. We don’t always make the right choice. Sometimes we do it willingly and sometimes not. But, He has made a way for us. Come to Him just as you are, because this is one thing you can’t do on your own; you need Him.  We all need Him.

Be Free & Stay Free

 

 

The Most Unusual Place: a short story

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Her reflection in the mirror showed a tired woman. Her skin was blotchy, pale and discolored with dark circles under her eyes; dull brown hair replaced a once thick and glowing crown. She looked at herself as if looking at a stranger. There was barely any resemblance to the woman she was in her youth. She pulled the wiry strings of hair into a single braid, splashed water onto her face and paused for a moment to savor the coolness of her hands on her brow.

“What are you doing, woman?” She cringed at the gruff sound of Ben’s voice. “Quit looking at yourself and come back to bed.”

“I have to go to the well and get some water.” She couldn’t look at him when she answered.

“It is too early for that!” He reached over and grabbed her by the arm and pulled her back into bed. “Satisfy me first, woman.”

“Ben, I need to go before the other women get there, or I will have to wait until this afternoon when the heat will be unbearable.”

“You talk too much!” He gruffed. “Always talking when you should be listening.”

Ignoring her protest, he forced her legs apart to lay on her. She closed her eyes against his stale breath as he used her body. She hated this act because she despised him. She let her body go limp and her mind go numb. He was not deterred by her lack of participation. She remained still until he finished and rolled off her.

“Laying with you is like laying with a dead fish!” He pushed her out of bed. “Make me something to eat and then go get me some water.”

Her eyes stung with the tears she refused to let fall. The wretch in her stomach made her want to vomit. The feel of her own skin was more than she could bare. She felt used up like garbage wrapped in dying flesh.

Her life was not suppose to be like this. She was the oldest of three daughters. Even though sons were the pride, her parents loved her and her sisters. Her childhood was filled listening to stories by her father. Sitting on his lap and tugging at his beard, singing, “Tell me another story, Poppa.” He would laugh and say, “OK,Galilah, one more before you sleep.”

Her childhood came to an end when her father fell ill and was buried beside his brothers. Her mother, doing what she thought best, married her off to Lameck. “He will be able to provide for you,” her mother cried on her wedding day. “I cannot feed four bellies.”

At fourteen, she was the sacrificial bride to a man old enough to be her father. True, Lameck was able to provide for her, but what the marriage was supposed to provide for him was a son, yet she could not conceive. He lost his patience with her after a year and took another wife. When the second wife conceived Galilah was forced out of the house and given to another man.

After five marriages, tossed aside by four and widowed by one, she did what she had to do to provide for herself. Shamefully she shared her bed with men passing through. Prostituting herself kept just enough bread in her belly and a shelter over her head. This is how she met Ben; he came and didn’t leave. With Ben, she released one shame to pick up another.

She held the memories of her first fourteen years close to her heart. She would not be robbed of her identity. She may not be who she could have been for the years have taken their toll, but she always believed there was a greater purpose for her.

It was too late to go to the well now, the other women would be there. She hated their idle chatter and their judgmental attitude. Sometimes she envied them, sometimes she pitied them, but mostly she despised them. Given a choice she would have never chosen the life that was handed to her, but she did learn something with each abuse; she learned to listen. The men would talk and disregard her as an ignorant woman, but she listened and she learned.

When the sun was high in the sky, Galilah picked up the water jar and began her walk to the well. The heat was almost unbearable as sweat trickled down her brow. Although her face was shaded by her veil and her robe shielded her from the sun it did not offer much reprieve from the heat.

She could see a solitary figure sitting by the well. As she approached, she pulled the veil closer to her face, squinting into the sun to identify who it may be. It was a man, sitting peacefully, he was alone. Perhaps he was a foreigner passing through?

jesuswell

There was nothing particularly handsome about the man as he sat and patiently waited for her to approach. She made brief eye contact with him; his eyes were warm and reflected the sun. There was something about his eyes which made her feel as though He was looking into the depth of her, not in a judgmental or seductive way, but as if He knew her. She quickly looked down.

She did not feel threatened by his presence, but her experience had taught her hostility and disdain for men. Yet, in the few brief moments of assessing him she could sense he was not like other men.

“Give Me a drink.” He broke the silence. His request was not a demand, but matter-of-factly spoken.

“How is it that you ask me for water?” She said, pausing at the well. “Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.”

“If you knew the gift of God, and who says to you, ‘give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” He answered.

She looked around Him with some exaggeration and saw that He had no jar with Him. “You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep.” She motioned to the well. “Where then do You get that living water?”

He remained seated, He did not flinch at her words. She felt the need to keep talking, divert His attention. She sensed there was greater meaning behind what He said, but she did not want to appear ignorant. She straightened her back with feigned dignity.

“Are you greater than our father, Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”

“Whoever drinks of this well will thirst again,” He gave a gesture to the well. “But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give will never thirst. The water I give will become a fountain of water, springing up into everlasting life.”

“Well then, Sir, give me this water that I may not thirst or come here to draw.” She wanted the water He spoke of, especially if it meant she would never have to come to this well in her shame again. Her thirst went deeper than this well and even if she were able to drink this well dry it would not be enough.

“Go, call your husband and come here.” He answered.

She felt a sting from His request and in the answer she would have to give. She didn’t have a husband. No man wanted her. No one that cared for her, covered her, or protected her.

“I have no husband.” She felt no need to lie. She allowed the truth to fall from her lips. What would He say to this? Would He mock her, too? Would the conversation cease here? Would He regard her unworthy for the water He spoke of? She braced herself for His response, expecting it to be the same as everyone else.

He smiled at her. He knew her confession and He felt her shame, but He looked past it and He saw her. She was His appointment. She was worthy. His heart broke for her and He saw what had been done against her. He saw her strength and her weakness, her hurt and her healing; He was moved with compassion for her.

“You have spoke the truth,” He said. “You have no husband. You have had five husbands and the man you are with now is not your husband.”

She looked at Him. How could He know this unless God revealed it? He must be a prophet. She fought the apprehension stirring in her. A respectful man would walk away from her and not want to be seen talking to her. She did not want Him to leave. She sensed there was more to Him than met the eye. Perhaps if she changed the subject?

“Our fathers worshipped on this mountain.” She said. Perhaps her intellect would shift the attention from her sin and the shame she felt. “You Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”

“Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.” He spoke with confident authority. “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship him.” Pausing, the man stood, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

She felt her heart quicken within her and her spirit lept. She was captivated. She listened to his words, watched his mouth speak and although He spoke as a man of authority she did not feel condemnation.

“I know the Messiah is coming.” She said. “When He comes, He will teach us all things.”

He looked her in the eye. “I who speak to you am He.”

Could this be? Yes, she could feel that He spoke the truth. She could feel the washing of His words come over her, like a welcomed shower. Just being in His presence lifted burdens from her shoulders. She began to realize she felt lighter, the sky was bluer, the air was clearer. She felt a calm she had not felt before. She also felt something rise in her she had not sensed since she was a child; hope.

Is this the Messiah that she heard about? Is this the man who they have waited for? Has he come? He didn’t look like she expected, but she had never experienced such compassion and kindness. She had never witnessed authority wrapped in gentleness. She believed Him. In just a few moments of conversation, in just a few moments in His presence she was changed. The hopelessness she felt, the shame; was gone.

Other men appeared at the well. They stood a few feet back and watched. She could see their curiosity of why He, the Messiah, would be talking to her. But, it did not seem to bother the man. He did not try to hide His talking with her. He just looked at her with a warmth of understanding and smiling eyes.

“Rabbi,” one of the men interrupted. “We have brought food to eat.”

She could not contain herself. She left the water jar, turned and hurried back to the city; she had to tell others. For the first time she felt clean; forgiven.

The men were gathered at the city. “Come!” She urged. “Come see a man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?!”

The men noticed there was something different about her, her countenance had changed and it gave cause for them to listen. “Is this the same woman?” They questioned. “She looks different.”

The men followed her back to the well. The man was sitting with His disciples.

“That’s Him!” Galilah said, picking up her pace to sit with Him.

“Come, join us.” The man welcomed them.

Time no longer existed as they listened to Him speak and teach as no one they have ever heard. Thirsty for more, they urged him to stay with them. He stayed for two days and many more believed because of His own word. He spoke and taught with great authority and compassion.

Through it all, Galilah sat at His feet, listening, bathing in His words, and her soul was dry no more. The shame and fear she carried for so many years fell to the ground. Her regrets were replaced with thankfulness, for she knew her redemption had come.
When it was time for Him to leave the city, Galilah wept.

“Do not weep, beloved.” He said comforting her. “I am not leaving you, you will see Me again. I am always with you. Do you believe?”

“Yes, I believe.” She looked into His eyes. “I believe.”

jesus-comforts-mary-martha-1104492-gallery-1

After He and His disciples left the city and were no longer in sight, the people turned to the woman and for the first time they saw her differently. Could it be that she has changed? Or perhaps they have changed? Or maybe it was both? One thing is certain, Salvation came to the most unusual place.

“Now we believe.” They said to her. “Not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”