Sunday, May 4, 2014

Shame Free


     A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a faculty meeting and admittedly, not paying attention.  Now lots of people don’t pay attention in meetings, but this meeting was about getting our students to pay attention.  A colleague was sharing an example of a technique called a “Whip Around” to get students engaged in her lesson.
    Then she said, “Quick, name a country in Europe.  Joan?”
     “Spain,” Joan stated.
     “Donna.”  I quickly replayed what I had almost heard.  “London.”  I responded with false confidence.  Polite laughter filled the room.  Still oblivious, I reviewed my response and decided that I had correctly answered the question.
     The teacher did not correct me, there may or may not have been eye rolling.  She moved on to her next victim, “Ellen?”
     Ellen had been paying attention, but was confused by my brilliance.  After a moment, she called out “Sweden.”  That was when I realized that I had named a city in Europe and not a country.
     Yup.  During a lesson on paying attention,  my mind was out to lunch.  My cheeks burned flaming red.  I wanted to hide under the table.
     Can you recall a time when you opened your mouth and inserted your foot?  It’s not fun to feel inadequate, embarrassed, and ashamed.
     The world tells us to be perfect.  The perfect teacher, the perfect student, the perfect spouse, the perfect child, the perfect parent, the perfect employee, the perfect employer, the perfect Christian. Evidence is gathered in a neat little binder.  There is no room for error.  We must measure up and if we don’t, there are consequences.  Often, we feel guilty or ashamed.
     There is a difference between guilt and shame.  Guilt is the result of our doing something that we should not have done.  Shame results when we are not the person we think that we should be. Guilt says, “What I did was not good.”  Shame says, “I am no good.”  Guilt says, “I did something wrong.”  Shame says, “There is something wrong with me.” Guilt says, “I’ve made a mistake.”  Shame says, “I am a mistake.”
     God does not create mistakes.  We are people in need of forgiveness and grace.
     Guilt moves us to ask for forgiveness.  Shame immobilizes us and weighs us down.  Shame convinces us that our sin is worse than the sin of others.  We have trouble believing that God can use us.  How can I serve?  I can’t do that.  I can’t do anything significant.  I’m not enough.
     People burdened by shame are who Jesus had in mind when he invited the “weary and heavy laden” to take His yoke and find rest.
     Jesus sought me with love and mercy.  He sees who I am and what I have done, and He loves me anyway.  Jesus takes away my shame.
     I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.  Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.  ~Psalm 34:4-5
     God made a way for our wounded hearts to be restored.  He freely gives us peace, love, forgiveness, hope, and grace.  He heals our shame.
     The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.  As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”   ~Romans 10:8-11
     Jesus meets us where we are, just as we are.  He knows what lurks in the corners of our hearts and mind.  He loves us individually and personally.  Leave your shame with Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith.

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