'If you really knew me... if you knew what I was really like..' Have you ever entertained these thoughts? Convinced yourself that the real you is so unworthy of love (or even like!) that if the world saw past the surface, they wouldn't want to know you? Living with shame is a heavy burden to bear. It prevents us from opening up to people. It holds us back from trusting people with our hearts - afraid that they will reject us. It makes us afraid to draw attention to ourselves, in case people dig a little deeper and see the things that we have been so desperately trying to keep hidden. You don't necessarily need to have murdered your neighbor and hidden them in your sock drawer. Often this shame is a result of a stupid mistake we have made, hurtful things we have said or behavior we are embarrassed about. Sometimes we can carry shame because of something that has been done to us, feeling as if we are tainted, ruined.
But do you want to know some good news? We don't have to hold on to those feelings, we can give them away.
'Where is the god who can compare with you - wiping the slate clean of guilt, turning a blind eye, a deaf ear, to the past sins of your purged and precious people? You don't nurse your anger and don't stay angry long, for mercy is your specialty. That's what you love most. And compassion is on its way to us. You'll stamp out our wrongdoing. You'll sink our sins to the bottom of the ocean.' Micah 7 v 18-19 The Message
Picture the object of your guilt as smouldering embers. At one time it may have been a roaring fire, destructive and dangerous. Maybe it was a small flame that caused a minor burn. Either way, the flames are now gone - but you still feel the heat from the embers. And given enough fuel, the flames can be reignited. Someone's words might create enough of a spark that those embers burst into flame again, bringing those feelings right back to the surface.
Wouldn't it be FABULOUS if someone could just stomp them out for good? Guess what? God can. We don't need to broadcast our guilt to the world, but we can tell Him. We can confess it to Him. He knows anyway! We can acknowledge this guilt, this shame and we can give it to Him. He doesn't hold onto it, or carry it around - He's far more sensible than us. He stamps it out - permanently. He sinks it to the bottom of the ocean, so that it can smoulder no more. He wipes the slate clean.
We all have a part to play in God's spectacular plan. When we let go of that shame, we can step forward and start to fulfill our purpose. We can start to realize our true potential in Christ. The enemy will use shame and guilt to hold us back, to keep us from fulfilling this potential. He will do all that he can to keep us hiding in the shadows, afraid to draw attention to ourselves - afraid to step out for Christ. Afraid of rejection. He will whisper lies to us: 'if they really knew you..'. But amazingly, the very thing that is holding us back is often the same thing that God will use. Those areas of your life that you see as weakness, in God they can become strengths. The shame He will cast away for us - but the experiences He will use.
So we can hold onto the shame, allowing it to weigh us down. OR.. we can give it to God. We can allow him to stamp out the embers, to drown the shame and to use our experiences in a powerful way. He is a merciful God and fresh starts are His favorite!
Pray with me:
Merciful, wonderful God, I acknowledge that I have sinned - through words, thoughts and actions. I am truly sorry and I ask you to forgive me. Lord, please take my shame and stamp it out. Please wipe the slate clean for me; renew my heart and mind. I know Lord, that in my weakness You are strong. Please take my weaknesses and use them for Your glory, to fulfill Your purpose.
About the Author: I am a Christian girl, with a messy past. I suffered sexual abuse in my childhood, then went from disaster to disaster as I grew up; eating disorders, teen pregnancy, self-harm, bad relationships.. to name but a few! God has brought me so far since then - and through my blog posts, I share my journey from there to here! You can find me on the web at http://sparklymess.blogspot.com