There’s this thing that keeps up isolated, this thing that keeps us from being freely connected to Christ and the people in our lives. I’ve been pondering this thing, SHAME, because of the destruction I see it causing. Shame is a liar. It tells us that our sin, our struggle, our mess is unique. It says we aren’t worthy to share in the communion of Christians. Shame tells us that NOT admitting our problems out loud somehow makes us stronger, when in reality, shame is the very thing that makes us the weakest. It makes us the most vulnerable to breaking down and dying spiritually.
Quite the opposite, choosing to be open and honest lends us a sort of strength we hadn’t quite known before. In confessing our sins and the sins committed against us, we are claiming the power of God to rise above death and defeat. It says that we are worthy in spite of our wrongdoings and the crimes against us. Unfortunately, many Christians continue to live in sin, because they fear that saying confessions out loud gives these sins more power, somehow makes them more true. As if admitting something makes it more of a reality and makes us less worthy of the love that Christ so freely gave on the cross.
It seems to me that this mainly stems from the fear of what other people will think. There is a risk of telling someone the truth and having them think less of me, and perhaps I will, in fact, BE LESS. The result of caring what man thinks, rather than what God thinks, is a complete misunderstanding of your place in this world and your worthiness of love. God sees everything that is done in secret, so even when we don’t admit our faults, He still knows. And yet, He still calls us beloved.
Think about it this way…My son Josiah is almost 6, and he is definitely beginning to understand the concept of sin. If he were to lie, cheat, or steal, would that make him any less my son, any less loved by his momma? Absolutely not. Now, if Josiah sins and admits that to a friend and that friend suddenly thinks he is scum, has my heart toward Josiah changed at all? Again, absolutely not. The only thing Josiah has done in admitting his sin is releasing the pressure that was built up inside him. What that other person thinks or how that other person receives this information is inconsequential. MY opinion of him is the only one that matters in regards to my love for him.
This is even more true in our relationship with a God who is truly capable of unconditional love. Admitting our sin does not make us LESS THAN. It only releases the pressure building inside our hearts. It lays down the load we carried. James 5:16 tells us, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” We are told to confess to one another and pray for one another, so that we can be HEALED. Those of us who have chosen vulnerability with true brothers and sisters in Christ know this to be the truth. There is a serious spiritual healing that can occur when we share our burdens, rather than holding them inside.
A few years ago when I decided to stop hiding my sins and struggles in my marriage and my own spiritual life, there was this large return of the phrase, “ME TOO.” My friends gathered around me and guaranteed me that I was NOT alone, and people who really cared NEVER made me feel less than. Suddenly, shame no longer had a hold on me. I was merely human, and my struggles were not unique. I was no less loved after admitting the truth. In fact, I felt such a greater sense of love that I began to understand and believe God more. I gave His children the opportunity to extend mercy and grace, and suddenly, forgiveness and strength became a reality in my life in ways it never had before. I no longer had to hide. I was loved for exactly who I was, and I was given tools to rise out of the pit I’d been laying in.
It takes bravery to admit the truth, but it’s like jumping off a cliff and being caught in the clouds. You don’t fall from grace. You are suddenly surrounded by people who can help, who can be the hands and feet of Jesus. If you’ve been hiding, stop letting shame be your guide. Even if the person to whom you open up responds sinfully and puts you down, you are no less God’s child and no less loved by Him. In fact, regardless of the other person’s response, you are free from the bondage of hiding. You can move on. Jesus defeated sin and death when He died on the cross, so stop handing them back the power over your life for fear of what others might think. He didn’t just die to keep you from death, He also wants to raise you up to new life. So please let Him. Shame has no place in a life forgiven. Come to Jesus, and be FREE.