Claiming Shame for Christ
Shame plagues so many of us. We feel shame about choices in our past, circumstances that happened to us, our current struggles mentally and emotionally, our inability to communicate what we feel or need based on those struggles. Shame comes when we feel embarrassed by criticism about our kids, our bodies, our lifestyles, our choices. How do we move beyond shame? Can we move beyond shame? Why should we? And, how?
For me, I have felt shame over my struggles with anorexia; the resulting hurtful ways I treated family and friends; the disregard I had for God and his word; the choices I made and the ways I despised the gifts God had given me. These things- and so much more- bring shame as I dwell on them. As I wrestled to move beyond these behaviors and attitudes, I first had to recognize areas of sin in my life. When God brought me to the place of realization, I was overwhelmed by how much sin had built up in my mind and heart. I had become so used to being a Christian "my own way" that I did not even care to recognize what was actually my sin. And, in order to move on in my relationship with God, I HAD to confess that sin. (If you read my last post on forgiveness, you will see why forgiveness and repentance are so important in your relationship to God.) Then, as I studied God's word, he revealed to me more and more about the sinful propensity of my heart; I just felt so ashamed for having disregarded all these truths about myself.
Perhaps you feel this way, too. Shame about sinful choices or behaviors. Shame about words you have said or things you have watched. Shame about your past. Perhaps your shame is related to what someone else did or said to you- abuse (verbal or sexual); lies; gossip- so many things which plague you and cause you to feel so worthless and ashamed. How do we move beyond these things?
It is good, as in my case, to recognize sin, to feel shame, and to acknowledge the need for help. And, in this is where we find the answers to our shame. When Jesus Christ died for us on the cross, he bore in his body our sin. All of it. And, when I recognized how grave my sin was, how deplorable my attitudes and actions were before God, how it cost him and his son everything to save me, how they love me so much to provide rescue and redemption from sin and shame, I became even more overwhelmed. For in this realization, I discovered something I had never before grasped: sin and shame are the pathways to grace and hope. I had been saved, by faith- but, I had lost sight of grace. I had lost sight of hope and heaven and being like Jesus. I had forgotten that I was not supposed to live my version of life, but to live to please him! And, shame washed over me again.
Then, as I read more about my God and Savior, I realized he did not just save me because he loved me and wanted to rescue me from sin. He saved me because he wants me to experience who he is, the power he has, and the life I can live (not in my own strength) to please him! So, here's where the shame fits in to the picture.
I felt so afraid and fearful that when I admitted the shame, the sin, the struggles, the fear, the anxiety, the depression, the bitterness, the anger- that all these things would make me miserable. But, in reality, the opposite is true. For in admitting my sin, my shame, my need for help, my inability to control, my pride, anger, fear, and so on, I find greater glimpses and clearer understanding of WHO MY SAVIOR IS! He is my hope in life and death. He is my reason for living. He is the answer to all my fears and failures, to all my sin and shame. And, he will use it for his glory. And, in this, I tearfully, wonderfully rejoice!
I can honestly tell you that three years ago, I could never have imagined that I would be writing things like this, admitting shame, admitting failure and sin- but, here we are. And, in this, I am so in awe of God and how he works. I don't know how he will use my story. I don't know what he has planned for me tomorrow, next week, five years from now... all I know is that he wants me to live to the praise of his glory. He wants me to experience his power to live a godly life. He has provided salvation, and he is continuing to provide his sanctifying work.
This is a process. I am finding that as I let the word of God shape and transform my thinking that I am no longer afraid to speak about my struggles. In fact, I am realizing how needed this is- honest, transparent admission of struggles (of sin, of anxiety, of depression, of loss of fear, of anger). God has answers for all these things- and more! And, when you and I can set aside our shame and the lies the devil is speaking to us about our lack of worth and our hopelessness, then we can begin to piece together God's word and how it applies to our specific struggles.
We are all speaking from different perspectives, but we are all universally sinners. We are all universally in need of a Savior. And the same Savior saves anyone who comes to him. And the same word which reveals truth to me is the same word that reveals truth to you.
And, from the depths of our shame, the Savior saves. Through our shame, the Savior speaks. And in spite of our shame, the Savior shines.
He is truth! He is light! He is hope! And, who are we to say how he can use us? Do not wallow any longer in your fear and shame. Grab hold of the love, the grace, and the hope of Christ, and live for his glory! Fill your mind with his truth, and let his powerful word and the work his Spirit move mightily in you so that your light may shine brightly to a world covered in the darkness of shame.
What is our hope in life and death?
Christ alone, Christ alone.
What is our only confidence?
That our souls to Him belong.
Who holds our days within His hand?
What comes, apart from His command?
And what will keep us to the end?
The love of Christ, in which we stand.
O sing hallelujah!
Our hope springs eternal;
O sing hallelujah!
Now and ever we confess
Christ our hope in life and death.
What truth can calm the troubled soul?
God is good, God is good.
Where is His grace and goodness known?
In our great Redeemer’s blood.
Who holds our faith when fears arise?
Who stands above the stormy trial?
Who sends the waves that bring us nigh
Unto the shore, the rock of Christ?
Unto the grave, what shall we sing?
“Christ, He lives; Christ, He lives!”
And what reward will heaven bring?
Everlasting life with Him.
There we will rise to meet the Lord,
Then sin and death will be destroyed,
And we will feast in endless joy,
When Christ is ours forevermore.
Words and Music by Keith Getty, Matt Boswell, Jordan Kauflin, Matt Merker, Matt Papa
©2020 Getty Music Publishing (BMI) / Messenger Hymns (BMI) / Jordan Kauflin Music (BMI) / Matthew Merker Music (BMI) / Getty Music Hymns and Songs (ASCAP) / Love Your Enemies Publishing (ASCAP) / adm at MusicServices.org CCLI # 7147502