All of my life there has been this unwanted rudder vying to guide my soul. It has steered me to the feet of Jesus in desperation, but more often than that it has steered me to towards crippling despair and false humility. Shame. I woke up today with a fresh batch of shame today. Life is hard and sometimes it’s all I can do to make coffee, feed everyone and do some laundry. And then the voices start whispering... You’re not good enough. You’re too much.
You’re not doing enough.
You’re doing too much. You’re inconsistent. You’re not managing your time well. You’re too depressed. Maybe I’m all alone in this. But I have a feeling I’m not. I have a feeling that there is an ambitious woman who is not engaging in the “hustle”. She knows she was built for rest, but she feels tempted to add to her worth by doing more, being more, controlling more. There is a mother hovered over a sink full of dishes, the untouched bowls of her homemade chicken noodle soup casually left at the lunch table. She knows she is doing her best, but the shame in her head reminds her that it will never be enough – That she will never be enough. There is a daughter who can’t bring herself to tell her parents the truth, it’s hard enough to disappoint yourself it’s much more complicated when you’ve disappointed others too.
And so, the rudder of shame steers her to a dark island of thoughts that make her feel small and defeated. But God doesn’t shame me for shaming myself. He lifts this burden up over my head and He holds me tight and says “You we’re never meant to carry this”. Whether the shame came with a bad decision, a hurtful word or an unmet – and unrealistic – expectation, God’s design is that the believer never has to carry shame.
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” (Romans 9:33) I think I forget how it really was when I came to Jesus. I didn’t come to Him with my chest puffed up thinking how proud He must feel to have me join His ranks. I came to Jesus all alone, covered in the stench of shame. His first glimpse of me was in my humiliation. My head hung in guilt, my arms quivered as I brought Him all of my debts. He bent low around me and scooped the debts up out of my arms. But He didn’t stop there.
He lifted my head. He turned my face. He positioned me for freedom.
“But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory and the lifter of my head.” (Psalm 3:3)
In the earthly tension of becoming love and continual confession, I find myself actually picking up the shame that the Lord already removed with His blood. Not only that but I am putting it back into the waters of my soul and letting it steer me.
I am letting shame steer me when I fixate on my goodness - or lack thereof - and not God’s goodness.
I think it’s because I am much more comfortable in my shame than I am in the Godly authority the Lord has given me. Shame keeps me small and paralyzed. Godly authority wakes me up and breathes purpose in every step. Using my shame as the gasoline for achievement and worth will do nothing but build an impressive but flammable personal kingdom.
Will you join me in putting our shame back in its place? Peel off that very real, debilitating, paralyzing shame that is still sticking to you even after your repentance or even after your pep talk in the mirror. It is keeping you from living the abundant life the Lord has for you.
Sister, it’s already done. Your debts have been paid. Go and sin no more. Be free.
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)