Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus —Romans 8:1 (NIV)
The reason it is so hard for us to admit to the secrets hidden in our hearts is that we’re ashamed of them. We think that if we keep denying our ugly stuff, then maybe we’ll look better than we fear we actually are. We keep it a secret. And those secrets can fester and swell until they consume our happiness and our hope. No matter how carefully we guard the secrets, no matter how creatively we scramble in our efforts to look good, we still suffer from that deep-seated sense of shame and will do almost anything to avoid it.
But here’s an important truth: shame is not what we do; it’s who we perceive ourselves to be. Shame is a core indictment of our very essence. But when our secrets become too powerful, shame becomes an identity, a state in which we feel different, despairing, and helpless. It then creates an interior environment in which the balance is lost between the healthy shame and unhealthy shame. This kind of unhealthy shame indicates that we’ve lost our true identity and value as God’s creation whom he called into being out of love and with pleasure.
In spite of the preaching of grace, shame is still an imperious presence in many of our hearts and our churches today. The good news is there is a cure for imperfection that leads to shame, which causes us to live in denial and fear. The cure begins when we open our hearts to the light of God’s love—and share what’s hidden in that dark, secret corner.
Jesus, help me to remember that my identity is in you. Thank you that you have paid for my sins on the cross and I am now free to serve you with joy. When I am overtaken by shame, help me to remember your words: “It is finished.” Amen.
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