As a little girl I remember dancing with my daddy, my little feet balanced on his, or snuggling with him as I sat on his lap, just listening to his heart beat, trying to match my breath with his. I was warm, safe, loved.
As I grew up I started to listen to the lies of the Enemy that told me I wasn’t enough – not pretty enough, not smart enough, not tough enough – too tall, too quiet, always alone. To comfort myself I would turn to food, afraid to be seen, afraid to use my voice. In my 20’s I dated a man who did not value my beauty. His words and actions manipulated me to try to please him but all the while forced me to hide who I really was. Then in graduate school another man did not value my femininity – he wanted the world to believe that we were dating, but he only wanted to be with other men. Since then other failed relationships added to this pain and as the bitterness and envy in my heart grew, so did my body. At my highest weight, I weighed almost 300 lbs.
But one day, as I sat weeping, I cried out to God. I asked Him why I was so stuck, not growing spiritually or relationally. In that moment my spirit heard Him say, “Leslie, I want to bless you, but you aren’t being obedient.” I knew immediately what He meant. I wasn’t taking care of my health. I also later realized that I was using food to avoid the pain of my singleness, the pain of the warped relationships that had left me feeling so alone. As I began to learn how to trust and obey God with my whole heart – not just my career, my education, my finances, etc., but with my romantic heart too – He brought me to the root of the issue. I was resentful of God because I believed the lie that He is not really good. I believed the lie that He wanted me to live my life alone. I believed that no one would ever really love me, just as I am. In that moment Abba offered to set me free from all those lies. But I first had to repent of my resentment toward God Himself! Once my heart broke and I found myself saying “Lord, I didn’t realize I was resentful of You, I am so sorry Lord for not believing that you love me, for believing your goodness – please forgive me.” In that moment, over 20 years of bitterness just seemed to fall away!
In the weeks that followed, as I asked Abba how He saw me, He gave me the song “Royalty” by Alberto and Kimberly Rivera. As I started to meditate on its lyrics, it reminded me of the love and safety of my earthly father. It also spoke to the moment when I “stopped believing I was a princess”. Abba’s heart broke for me! He cried over me, even in the midst of my sin. And all the while He saw me as a queen. At this same time I needed to find a unique gift to give about 20 women at my church who were just about to complete a 9-month discipleship journey called Women of Valor. Several years before I had seen Megan Kasper’s work at the IHOP bookstore and had been blessed by it. I contacted Megan and asked her to create a commissioned piece for me and this group of women. She graciously accepted and after several months informed me that our order was ready. Because I had wanted to meet her for some time, I suggested that we meet in Kansas City so that I could meet her and pray with her. As we compared our calendars, we decided that June 8, 2019 would work best for us both – plus it was my birthday weekend. A nice treat.
As I was pondering my quick trip away I asked God, “Abba, that Saturday is my birthday. Could I have a special gift just from you? I would really like to spend some special time just You and me.” Shortly after that, I received a message back from Megan asking me if I would allow her and Ingrid to bless me with the crowning ceremony. As she told me more about it, my heart just leapt for joy! Abba was giving me the gift that I asked for! And what was even more amazing was that it was a coronation – the very thing that the song “Royalty” had been singing in my heart for months.
When I finally met with Megan and Ingrid, it was like having tea with two long-lost sisters. They patiently listened to my story and marveled at all the Lord had done. During my coronation I do not believe it was by accident that it was themed after Queen Elizabeth’s – another little blessing from my Abba. I have been a fan of all things English since I was a little girl. By using her oath as the template for ours, this just affirmed yet again that our God is good. He pays attention to all the details and loves giving good gifts to his daughters. After the end of the ceremony, I was also blessed by the beautiful artwork of Megan, made all the more special by my own experience of being crowned just moments before. Her commissioned work, “Crowned Beloved One,” brought tears to my eyes as I could see the hands of Abba God crowning not only me, but also the women whom He had asked me to mentor for the previous nine months.
Today I still marvel at how Abba orchestrated everything to come together in that moment. I am in awe that He set me free from so much pain and bitterness – and over 100 lbs of sin that had attached itself to my frame. While I am still trusting that my Prince Charming will come one day, I must also continue to make the choice to believe that He is still good every day. All the while He keeps reminding me of how much He loves me. Recently He even used one of my sisters to send me a gift with a reminder that I would like to give you today too – the bracelet says “Whenever you are overwhelmed, remember whose daughter you are and straighten your crown.” Be blessed, dear one and trust Him. He is good indeed.
HRH Leslie Bissell