I don’t often talk of this part of my journey. Because I remember the sting, the hurt, the I don’t deserve this feelings. And a piece of me does not want to re-live those times. But I’m compelled to share the shame of these stories. Because shame is epidemic.
One incident led to changing our wedding plans.
A second incident led to loss of promotion and loss of salary.
A third led to loss of my perceived identity.
I was shamed.
In each case someone with ability to change the outcome was silent. And in each case, they later admitted their silence to me about the wrong that came my way. The wrong continued.
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light,
we have fellowship with one another,
and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
I John 1:7 (underlines mine)
Walking in light.
Fellowshipping with you.
Cleansing from sin.
My First Response
I worked at hiding my shame. I donned a smiley-face mask to communicate this isn’t bothering me. I’m more mature than your accusations.
I took the responsibility of defending God. After all, He is sovereign and my response will prove I believe it. I will make sure He looks good.
I worked hard at controlling.
On the plus side God gifted me with safe friends. I confided my real me and my hurt. My words were heard; I was loved well; I experienced grace.
“A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for adversity.”
Proverbs 17:17 was lived out for me; I experienced the truth of that scripture. My friends helped carry the burden.
But what about the last phrase of I John 1:7? You know, the one about cleansing from sin. What was the sin? What needed cleansing in me?
Inside each incident was sin. I was sinned against. My sin was in my response, my attempted control.
All my shame responses screamed control! I will attempt to control what you think of me. I will attempt to control what you think of God. Control, the polar opposite of trust.
As those three incidents unfolded, control was not part of my thinking; it was ingrained in my reactions. The shame continued for years until I released my control and learned to trust God.
As I opened my tight grip, I saw each hard incident through God’s eyes. I saw his desire that I trust his control; I knew what needed the cleansing that I John 1:7 speaks of.
Five Big Lessons
- God has not lost control! Sins against me don’t change the truth. God still loves me. I John 3:1.
- God didn’t spare Jesus from hard things. In John 17:23, Jesus prays that God would love us, as He loves him. My hards allow me to experience God in new ways.
- God’s plan for me is to mature by his love. Hard times grow holiness like sandpaper smoothing rough edges. “Long before he laid down the earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love”. Ephesians 4:21, The Message.
- I am called to “ … proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light”. I Peter 2:9. So I share this story.
- These incidents clarify ministry for me. Ministry is not living from a role or title. It’s giving up control and walking in trust. Ministry is stewardship of the story God allowed in my life.
“as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed,
but that with full courage now as always
Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.”
How has sharing your shame lightened your load?
When are you tempted to try and control your situations?
How has God developed trust in your life?