What do I do with my shame?

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Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret…..2 Corinthians 7:10 NIV

The Will Smith spectacle at this year’s Oscars ceremony resonated with me, especially when Mike shared a thoughtful commentary reflecting on the event. The writer described the damage Smith did to his carefully crafted image of an easy-going black man who is thoughtful and kind. I imagine he feels or will experience shame at some point. How he deals with it is what matters.

Providentially, I have been working my way through a book about shame. The timing couldn’t be more perfect because of an upsetting exchange I had with a good friend two weeks after starting the book.

The authors offer a view completely new to me. They write those feelings of shame can actually shine a light on the sin of idolatry underneath our reaction. Surprise made me reread this chapter.

The two authors point out that a more godly reaction than shame when realizing that our actions or words that might have cast us in a poor light would be sorrow coupled with a crying out to God for help. They explain that shame often has to do with one’s identity, the one we all craft or believe defines us.

Let’s say I blurt out something I’m thinking that hurts another person.  My immediate horrified shame stems from my belief that I’m a gal who comports herself kindly with people.  That’s the idol that I work to maintain, either consciously or subconsciously.  The feelings of shame occur when I realize that I did not live up to my own opinion of myself.

The authors write, “Idolatry is sneaky worship. It is worship of the self, but it doesn’t look that way at first.  It appears more like a poor self-image.  It looks like insecurity that necessitates always looking good, or never making mistakes, or determination to be successful. …” (p. 182, The Cry of the Soul)

A natural tendency might be to go numb, to refuse to deal with this painful feeling.  But instead of numbing oneself in shame, God wants us to feel sorrow over the hurt as well as sorrow for this sin.

Reading this book has given me a way to ‘see’ underneath my shame. I now realize that I have cultivated an interaction style with this friend of ‘staying on her good side’, of acting in ways that she will think well of me. I’ve wanted her to see me as a person who is caring and other focused.

I actually feel liberated, having been forced to acknowledge the true motivation of my actions. I don’t have to carry this burden of crafting an image.  Now I want simply to please God and trust him to draw us close.  And I’m praying that one day we both can dare be honest with each other. Then we can start to build our friendship based on authentic and clean hearts.

Grappling with my identity and some bothersome feelings

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Grappling with my identity and some bothersome feelings

How freeing it is to know that Jesus’ door is always open. He has unlimited time to listen to me.  Theologian A.W. Tozer once wrote something to the effect that: ‘What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us’.

So, if we wrongly believe that we have to edit our communication with Jesus or even keep back sharing of shameful feelings, we damage His reputation and deprive ourselves of much needed correction and comfort.

Here are two meditations from this week’s writing and thinking project.

But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel. Matthew 2:6 NIV

‘But I’m only a _____!’  Have you ever said that to yourself?

Consider those shepherds described by Luke, busy doing their shepherd-thing the night Mary was birthing our ‘Shepherd-Ruler’.

This morning in my reading, I noticed that Jesus’ rule is likened foremost to a protector and caretaker of sheep. In Jesus’ day, people despised and minimized this lowly profession. But God, the ‘re-orderer’ of status, calls shepherds fundamental.

Maybe angels first appeared to these rough-hewn men to correct THEIR identity. I can imagine God’s message: You shepherds serve in the same profession as the Messiah, the Divine Shepherd, who will govern my people. Don’t listen to what the world says about you.  Continue to be good shepherds, for this is a noble calling, worthy of honor.

Whose voice are you listening to when you repeat: ‘I’m just a ____’?

**

Pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lamentations 2:19 NIV

Buying Christmas gifts for adult kids is challenging.  I thought I had found something creative and different when I read about a local Alabama man who crafts custom bowties.  Neither of my sons has a bowtie. Why not choose a fun accessory, to be worn on a special occasion?  I picked a themed pattern, and through in some novel socks.

Elder son didn’t mention our gift.  When I asked him, he said: “Not something I will ever use; I haven’t even worn a regular tie in nine years, but thanks anyway.” I felt hurt.

Michael comfortingly empathized with me.  Resolving just to let the hurt go, I mentioned to Jesus what I felt and invited His input.  Unsurprisingly, He agreed I should forgive. What He then brought up gave me pause.  ‘What about all the times you have ignored my gifts, failing to thank Me? How do you think I have felt?’

It helps to release and receive from Jesus!

A fresh year to adventure with Jesus

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Welcome 2021! Another clean and fresh chapter, adventuring with Jesus.

Ever since I heard Christian peace advocate Jamie Winship talk about his years working among warring radical tribal Muslims, my time reading the Bible and praying to Jesus have changed significantly. 

Thanks to a new way of listening to Jesus, I received a nudge, encouraging me to start writing daily.  The game of this new habit, 6 weeks in, is to put into 175 words or fewer an insight God reveals from that day’s readings and meditations. I love this ‘pleasant boundary line’.  Each week, therefore, I select two of my dailies and offer them here, to you.

My goal is to encourage you, too, to read, digest, talk truthfully to Jesus and listen for what He thinks about any problem or situation or worry and then do what He says.  An adventure is bound to follow, making life 1.0 (until His return) exciting and energizing.

Blessed adventuring to you, dear reader, this 2021.

You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, Revelation 4:11 NIV

For years, I announced: “I’m not creative!” I believed I couldn’t generate novel ways of teaching. Pressure to use my imagination stressed me.

But toward the end of my classroom teaching years, I began to come up with new ways of presenting learning experiences to my French students. Innovation turned into a friend. Different ideas energized me, stimulating me to take risks. ‘Same ole, same ole’ bores us all.

What happened is that I relaxed into my calling, how God wired me (and you).  We know that God is Creator. If we bear His image, it follows that we create, naturally.

Now look at the text – being creative is worthy of honor.

When we originate something, try a new approach or employ different materials, we have embraced our calling, reflecting God.

Who do you suppose works to keep us tired and blasé? Who stands to gain if we believe life and God are boring?

**

They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings–and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers. Revelation 17:14

My Bible notes remarked that angels are NEVER referred to as ‘called, chosen, faithful followers’.  Only believers!!!

This news stuns me. Implied is this, that if we die before ‘The Last Battle’, we will fight alongside Jesus in his final military defeat of Satan and his vile, wicked guerrillas.

No wonder this life is challenging, hard, often painful for believers, aka warriors in training. Life on earth is Divine Bootcamp! Field exercises and live fire familiarization prep us for real skirmishes with the enemy and the occasional drawn-out battle.

But remember, we have only one enemy – Satan.  People are not our enemy.

My take-away from today’s Bible reading? Suffering is both real and necessary.  God has carefully planned every detail of our training with this future Day in mind. Those who die in the Lord will experience the most exciting, epic Victory in all creation. R&R awaits all soldiers on the other side, our Rest and Re-creation.

Where do you wear your identity?

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Indy Popcon Identity 1 Peter 3: 3a, 4  Do not let your adorning be external… but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

A jarring contrast:

  • 7200 Gospel Coalition women
  • a milling parade of ‘Indiana Popular Culture and Comic Book Convention’ masqueraded devotees

God used clever costumed characters to reveal my unremitting passion for particular glory badges. I deemed my boasting more reasonable and justifiable.

Until I surveyed Jesus’ red badge of submission

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