If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8-9
Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Psalm 32:1
Teddy Bear is the unofficial 5thmember of our family. Since the moment my youngest daughter Paige laid eyes on him, the two have been inseparable. This stuffed bear has gone everywhere with Paige – to school, to the dentist, to the grocery store, etc. She has played dress up, hosted tea parties, watched movies, and read books with Teddy. Over the years Teddy has had his arms, ears, and eyes torn off and lost the majority of his stuffing. He has been drooled on, dragged through the mud, been caught in rainstorms and had a near death experience once when our dog got a hold of him.
So, needless to say, Teddy is in pretty sad shape. Yet, this doesn’t matter at all to Paige. To everyone else, this stuffed animal appears worthless, but in Paige’s eyes, Teddy is absolutely priceless. Paige is incapable of sleeping without Teddy by her side so if he does go missing it is a big deal. I’ve actually driven across town in the middle of the night in search for that maingy stuffed animal before. When I was behind the wheel tired and exhausted, I thought this was the craziest thing I’ve ever done as a parent. However, the squeal of delight and tears of joy that came from Paige the moment she was reunited with Teddy was worth it. Something that was lost had been found. Teddy was back where he belonged.
The reality is that many of us look like Teddy. Our shame has shaped our identity and the way we perceive ourselves. Shame always works to define us. Just like that stuffed bear, we feel dirty, unclean, and less than. Sometimes these emotions are due to the wrong things we have done. Other times those feelings of being unlovable come as a result of the shameful things done to us.
In response, we try to numb, control, pretend, and perfect our shame away. By sure will power and self-talk, we attempt to make right the things we know are wrong. So, as a result, we either deal with our shame by saying, “that’s just who I am” or we conceal it by declaring, “you’ll never know who I really am.”
But, no matter what we do, the shame and guilt remain. And since we can’t rid ourselves of these feelings, we experience more feelings of shame and guilt. This leaves us wondering, “what’s wrong with us?”
Our desire to be loved and known collide where shame resides. Shame has us believing the lie that the more we are known the less we are loved. Shame is an assault on our worth. But, for a second ponder this question: Is something loved because it’s worthy of love or does the very act of loving it give it worth?
Because we have value in the eyes of God, we don’t have to hold onto our shame. The Gospel meets us right where we are, in the midst of our mess. God doesn’t love us because of our value. God knows the worst about us and redeemed and loved us anyway. He loves us with a love that creates value.
We are worthy to God because we were made for Him. He fought and died to eradicate shame from the picture. His sacrifice took away our shame. He’s enough, so we’re enough. The only shame we carry is what we choose to carry. Knowing we are loved, we can finally come out of hiding. Being loved and valued by God gives us the freedom and power to deal with our shame.
Freedom is found when we see ourselves through the eyes of the person who loves us. The good news is you can have regrets without having shame. Regrets become markers of God’s grace and His faithfulness to us. As a result, we can stop running from our story and begin to own it. We can have the courage to be vulnerable and share our story with our whole heart.
- Do you believe God has taken away your shame through what took place on the cross? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
- What happens to our shame and guilt when we expose it to the light and speak of it?
God, Your love speaks worth, healing, and wholeness into my heart. May I have the courage to bring to light the shame I carry with me and leave it at the feet of the cross. Help me to understand that it is You, and You alone, who determines my value. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.