Ashamed and Alone

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We are all familiar with two powerful emotions – guilt and shame. Guilt serves us well when we do wrong because it motivates us to seek change, to make things right. Shame, on the other hand, is generally a terribly destructive emotion that causes us to hide, to feel worthless. It can become a root cause of all kinds of self-destructive behaviors. Guilt says, “I did something wrong.” Shame says “There is something wrong with me.”

After the glorious story of God and Creation, Genesis shifts to failure, doubt, and disobedience. In a few lines, the inspired text provides deep insight for us about the human condition when sin comes to us.  “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” (Genesis 3:7-10, NIV)

Adam and Eve, who enjoyed the love of their Creator and one another, who were innocent, made a choice to disobey and, in that moment, suddenly became vulnerable, self-aware, and guilty. Guilt morphed into shame and tragedy overtook them – ‘they hid from the Lord.’ The One with Whom they knew sweet fellowship became a fearful Presence to them. In language rich with symbolism, we are told that they ‘sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.’  Their relationship, once open, is now complicated by covering. But, God is there!

This story lays the groundwork for the redemptive story that is revealed in the rest of the Bible. God does not abandon us to our shame, leaving us to struggle alone with our shame while we desperately try to keep all our fig leaves in place. He pursues us, loves us, and offers restoration of the life that sin stole from us. We devise all manner of mechanisms to try to regain what we know is lost – hard work, achievement, fancier ‘fig leaves,’ status, religiosity – to name a few.  Some of us just collapse under the weight of our sense of ‘wrongness’ and develop behaviors like addictions and compulsions in a downward spiral.

The answer to our guilt is not shame, it is salvation!  He holds out the offer of reconciliation and forgiveness through Jesus Christ and invites us to accept what we cannot find anywhere else. Paul’s words are compelling.  In this world, where the sinful nature makes failure inevitable, there is this promise of healing.  “We all did … what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah. Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish!” (Ephesians 2:3-8, The Message)

Are you living ashamed and alone?

You can attempt to excuse yourself or explain away that which creates guilt. You can retreat into shame’s isolation but your conscience will not be easily stilled. Take your guilt to Him. Don’t hide! Prayerfully, in a quiet place, let the Spirit find you and open up to Him, with honest confession – about your confusion, about your guilt, about that shame that makes you feel so worthless. Then, by faith, accept the grace that makes you new and whole! Discard the ‘fig leaves’ and put on the robe of Christ’s righteousness (right standing with God) that He gives to us, freely in Christ Jesus.

Here is a word from the Word. May it be living truth and reason to be ashamed and alone no more. “Since you have heard all about him and have learned the truth that is in Jesus, throw off your old evil nature and your former way of life, which is rotten through and through, full of lust and deception. Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes. You must display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God’s likeness—righteous, holy, and true.” (Ephesians 4:21-24, NLT)  “Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. … So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you.” The Message (Col 3:10-12)

________

No Longer Slaves

(worship at this link)

 You unravel me with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance from my enemies
Till all my fears are gone

 I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

 From my Mother’s womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name\
I’ve been born again into Your family
Your blood flows through my veins

 You split the sea so I could walk right through it
My fears were drowned in perfect love
You rescued me so I could stand and sing
I am a child of God

 Brian Johnson | Joel Case | Jonathan David Helser © 2014 Bethel Music Publishing

CCLI License # 810055

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