That darn Genesis 3 Garden of Eden story. It is the beginning of shame and every diversionary trick shame pulls on us to keep us in hiding. Adam and Eve sinned. Once they realized they now had the knowledge of good and evil, they realized they had sinned and went into hiding.
And we’ve been hiding when we sin ever since.
Your sin does separate you from God. It puts a wall up that only Jesus can take down because he is the only one without sin. There is forgiveness available for you. There always is. Seeking forgiveness is a brave behavior because it requires vulnerability. It requires acknowledging that you sinned and that is often the hardest part. We’d rather justify what happened. There is always a ready-made excuse, and we use those excuses very often. “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” 1 John 1:9. He is faithful every time.
Your shame puts up a second wall. This is one we put up ourselves.
This is the wall we hide behind. This is the wall we use to keep people away. To keep Jesus away. We have lots of excuses for this wall too. Numbing behaviors are also a part of those excuses. A lot of effort goes into keeping this wall up.
Shame keeps us out of vulnerability. Shame keeps us from living brave—from living any kind of healthy life. Shame is a story stealer. Shame keeps that cycling tape inside your head that you are never enough running and running and running. Shame is the root of scarcity. Shame exhausts. Shame keeps us on guard—thus living in fear—so we can think we control the outcome we fear the most. But still can’t.
Shame is a liar. Shame changes truth into lies. Shame is exhausting because there are so many lies told. It is exhausting keeping up with the lies.
Shame causes us to talk to ourselves in ways we would never talk to those we love and respect. This is because you don’t love and respect you so you are giving shame a voice. And shame loves to be that voice in your head repeating again and again that you are never enough.
The lies are thick with shame. Yet we don’t talk about them. We keep these lies buried deep inside of us. We are afraid to crack them open—and to let others see us—for fear that they will see the lies to be true. But they are lies. Shame thrives in secret keeping. Shame derives its power from being unspeakable.
The greatest shame of shame is it causes you to believe a lie that you are bad. That there is something wrong with you. That you are not good enough. And once you believe this, you start acting like something is wrong with you. That you are not good enough. You make life decisions from the lie of shame and suddenly your life becomes a real mess. It feels like an unredeemable mess too. Now you’ve gone too far, done too much. You are beyond redemption.
You aren’t beyond redemption. It just feels like you are because shame wants you to feel that way.
What is true about shame is that it is painful. Shame hurts—and likes to keep you in pain.
Oh the power shame has to ruin a life. There is no truth in shame.
Shame is not from God. Shame is this second wall that we put up.
In the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve sinned, Genesis 3:9 tells us, “The Lord called out to the man, ‘Where are you?’”
Where are you? God was looking for Adam and Eve. He was looking for them. Of course, he knew where they were—and he was still looking for them. He was not judging them. He was looking for them.
Where are you?
God has been looking for us ever since. That is his story. God has arranged the entire universe to come close to you. He continues to look for you. And to provide every way out of that shame that separates you from him. “As Scripture says, ‘Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.’” Romans 10:11 NIV.
What will change this situation you live in?
Put words to your shame. Find that small group of your gift of people you trust and start putting words to these shameful thoughts. Speak what you think is unspeakable. Then don’t be surprised to find out that the truth is something entirely different than what you believe.
Stop allowing your feelings of shame to lead you to a conclusion. Those shameful voices in your head which you’ve become very familiar with are still just feelings. The truth is different. The truth can be found in God’s word. Your friends can lead you to the truth. This does produce holy tension inside of you and that is uncomfortable. It also means you are transitioning to the new thing and are on the way to hope.
Accept love and kindness from this gift of people you have entrusted. And from your friends. And from your church family. Because shame thrives in secret-keeping, shame wants you out of all healthy relationships like these. To keep you out of healthy relationships, you hear lies that you are not worthy of love and kindness. That you are not worthy of these healthy relationships. Yet you are. What does one have to do with the other really? Feelings lead you to this wrong conclusion. You can accept their love and kindness because it is being given to you because you are worthy of love and kindness.
You are worthy of forgiveness too. Shame doesn’t always come directly from something you have done. But some of your means of coping with the shame may need forgiveness. You may need to forgive yourself for choosing these numbing behaviors. You may also need to ask forgiveness from some of those friends of yours who you’ve been shutting out and rejecting their love and kindness. Forgiveness is a healing gift. It is yours for the taking.
All of those are brave steps you can take. Do you know why you can take those brave steps? Because you are worthy. Worthiness is your birthright. You were enough the moment you were born. This is truth. I cling to your decrees. Lord, don’t let me be put to shame! Psalm 119:31.
Your life is beautiful. That is your true story.
May what you have read today lead you back to your true story so we can live with your beauty.
(Photo credit: http://wifflegif.com/gifs/326048-despicable-me-box-of-shame-gif)