What do you do with shame?

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They say shame is the most painful of emotions.  I can attest to that.  My shame faux-pas have been due to utterances.  Words pronounced without thinking, mostly in haste. Not a few times in my life have I said something I soon regretted.  The words used up less than a minute of real life when they burst forth but fueled much replay time in my post-mortem.

Shame brings regret and grief over the possible irreparable change in a relationship.

I experienced a fresh episode of this kind of heavy sadness the other morning.  I had encouraged someone to share an anecdote with some visiting family members during dinner.  Not only was it untimely but unseemly.  I don’t know what I was thinking.  The effect was not good.  And I saw the consequence later on.  So for the next couple of days, I felt heavy and depressed.

But God!

His Word IS living and active – Hebrews 4:12.  He DOES restore my soul –  Psalm 23:3.

How did He lift the burden?  I’ve been slowly memorizing the book of 1 Peter.  I began toward the end of January of this year and it’s now mid-September and I’m about 1/3 of the way into Chapter 3.  The blessing of committing Scripture to heart is that the Spirit of Christ uses it in timely moments.  Like this week.

The promise was this:  1 Peter 2:6  The one who trusts in the Living Stone (Jesus) will NEVER be ashamed/shamed or disappointed or frightened away in haste (as Isaiah 28:16 renders this original fact.)

As soon as God reminded me of His truth, I FELT the shame leave.  My God-given reason kicked in like this:

  • I am one who trusts in Jesus.  And He promises to cause all circumstances/events to work for my good.  Even those that are painful.  And if He says I won’t be ashamed or shamed, then I don’t need to wallow or indulge in that feeling now.
  • Besides, if I believe God truly is sovereign, even over our sin and mistakes, then I can trust Him to bring good out of this.
  • Finally, doesn’t God say in Psalm 84:11 No good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is upright/blameless/without blemish?
  • I regret what I said, AND I am even more motivated to depend on and pray for future self-control over my thoughts and mouth.  And I know that in Christ I am without blemish.  So then God did not withhold this event because He deems it a good thing. I will trust His judgment.

The upshot?  No more shame.  Just a reliance on my Father to heal the damage I did to the relationship and confidence that He is working in me all the time, through falls and victories in Christ.  Christians are entitled and given access to this kind of relief and healing balm NOW through God’s Word.  And for that I am exceedingly glad!

 

 

You wanna change your life?

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Here’s how:  change your narrative.

I think it is that simple.

A friend recently updated me on her warmer relationship with a formerly  (almost) estranged daughter.  This adult daughter repeatedly wanted to rehash childhood pain, assigning blame to her mom.  She maintained that only by revisiting those times could she and her mom reach a healthy place.

My friend decided to ‘change the narrative’.  She practiced a piece of Shakespeare’s advice fleshed out in Hamlet.  You’ve probably heard the adage, ‘assume a virtue and it’ll become yours’.  Here’s the context in this excerpt:

Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 4, Page 7

Good night—but go not to mine uncle’s bed.
Assume a virtue if you have it not.
That monster, custom, who all sense doth eat,
Of habits devil, is angel yet in this:
That to the use of actions fair and good
He likewise gives a frock or livery
That aptly is put on. Refrain tonight,
And that shall lend a kind of easiness
To the next abstinence, the next more easy.
How did she do it?  By ASSUMING that she and her daughter already had a healthy relationship and then proceeding from there.  In that way, she actually influences the conversations and her daughter has warmed to approach.  Their interactions have grown more frequent and enjoyable to both.
Jesus actually set this precedent long before Shakespeare.  I’ve often read the Upper Room Discourse in John 17 where Jesus makes this outlandish statement to His Father in verse 6:
“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.”
The disciples kept God’s word???? Really?  What about Peter’s denial or James and John vying for the premier cabinet positions in the new kingdom?
But should we be so surprised when the Bible is replete with bold promises that for those who are in union with Christ, God sees them as pure and righteous.  We are told that the Father loves us, His adopted kids, just like He loves His beloved Son, Jesus.
And maybe that is the key to behaving better, to assume that it is true what Jesus says, what the Father says and act the part.
What if in a marriage locked in an impasse, one partner chose to treat his or her partner tenderly,  as though they were worthy of love and respect?
What if like the Jews carted off to Babylon, they started to treat their new pagan neighbors as though they were just as worthy of love and respect as their own race?
To bring it closer to home?  What if I dropped the narrative built up in reaction to the pain of my first years in my current school?  What if I started to ‘channel’:  God has so blessed me by giving me this job here!  What might change?
I can think of many applications of this principle of rewriting the script to break the logjam of negativity and failure.
I can hear someone say, “But it is not true!”
My one-word quick answer:  ….YET!!!!”
Lookit….if Jesus can describe his wobbly disciples as those who have KEPT His Word, then we are in good company if we treat others with grace (including ourselves) and interact with them as though they were ALREADY mature….loving….kind.
One further scriptural support.  Consider the grammar of verse 6 in the second chapter of Ephesians.  The verbs are in the PAST tense, meaning the action has been completed. God through Paul informs us that we are already sitting with Jesus in heaven:
For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.

 

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