It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
During a trip to Maryland to visit my folks a few years ago, my wife and I “managed” to have a day to ourselves (minus the kids) so we could go exploring in the nation’s capital, Washington D.C.
Managed is probably not the right word. Let’s face it – once grandkids come into the picture, you quickly become second fiddle regarding your parent’s attention. I now serve as just a shuttle to transport the children to Spoil City, better known as Granny’s house.
After our sole responsibility was complete, my wife and I took the Metro into the city. Unfortunately, it was morning rush hour so we were packed in like sardines. No vacant seats were to be found. As soon as the doors opened, people scattered trying to get to their destination.
The government workers and businesspeople were pros at maneuvering through the traffic. Me? Not so much. I saw an empty turnstile and thought this was my opportunity towards freedom.
I made a bee-line to it, pushed the metal bar and then: WHAM! Severe pain! The bar slammed into my side and wouldn’t budge, leaving me stuck inside an out of service turnstile. The Metro worker in the booth shook her head in pity and slowly made their way over to release me from my cage. Eventually, I was free and ready to move on.
Unfortunately, when it comes to dealing with shame, many of us are stuck in an out-of-order turnstile where we are going around and around in circles with no hope of escape. Something fuels our words, actions, and thoughts. Often, our present behavior serves as a response to the way we see ourselves. What we fail to realize is how much that picture is influenced by our past or unresolved shame. Past shame sabotages our present and future self.
Before we know it, the excuses begin to creep in. We catch ourselves saying, “too bad, that’s just WHO I AM.” Holding firm to this mindset, change and transformation are impossible. Why? When we are stuck, hope disappears. All we see are our inadequacies and the negative labels we place on ourselves.
In a fit of desperation, we might muster enough courage to push the turnstile, but as soon as we meet the least bit of resistance, we give up and remind ourselves how it was foolish to think things would change.
So, the vicious cycle of hopelessness begins. Because we’ve convinced ourselves we can’t change, we don’t. And due to the lack of change, our feelings of being a failure, worthless and helpless, causes the turnstile to spin around again convincing ourselves we can’t change.
Shame attempts to fool us into thinking we need to be stuck in the turnstile forever and don’t deserve to be free. Yet, Christ set us free from our past. We’re no longer defined by our yesterdays. He came down from His booth to rescue us from being stuck.
If you are stuck right now, the only movement taking place is you running from your story and your past. Rather than hiding from your story, you need to own it. The only way you can move on from the turnstile of your past is through facing it.
- What situations do you find yourself saying, “that’s just who I am”? Why is this your initial reaction? How does shame fuel your response to this situation?
God, help me to identify the places where I’m stuck in the past. Open my eyes to where I associate myself with past shame and regret. I no longer want to be paralyzed by my yesterday. Instead, I desire to walk into the future full of hope fueled by the promise of Your love for me. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.