Have you ever had one of those days where shame seems to be the main accessory to wear in your wardrobe? I love days when I get to wear beautiful clothing like grace, peace, or awe over what God is doing in my or others' lives. Shame is never a piece I put on intentionally, which is why it never fails to shock me when I realize I am covered from head to toe in its smothering layers.
I had a conversation yesterday that started out with me knowing I had said the right thing. But because I love to be a peacekeeper more often than a peacemaker, I tried to patch up the ruffled feathers that my words had caused. In doing so, I felt like I caved in, backed down, and undermined the truth I had passionately defended just moments before. I gave way to a struggle that I continue to have to work on with the Lord - the need for others' approval.
I suddenly felt the overwhelming heaviness of the coat of shame. I immediately begged the Lord for forgiveness. But the coat became heavier and heavier as the day continued to drag on. I have come to realize that the stifling voice of condemnation is vastly different from the breath of conviction by the Holy Spirit. I even called out to Jesus to help me understand that I was forgiven the second I asked for Him to forgive me. But still no relief.
I was a wreck all day. Satan is an equal opportunity accuser. He is not very creative in his methods, but he is very proficient in the ones he chooses to use. My deep-seated need for the approval of others and shrinking under the frown of their perceived disapproval of me can rob me of my joy. But when I feel I have disappointed the Lord Himself, life can become bleak.
I have always resonated with the apostle Peter - the follower of Jesus who was passionately devoted to Christ, but had an ongoing problem of putting his foot in his mouth. His zealous love of Christ was often tainted by his fear, even to the point of denying that he even knew Christ. He sobbed bitterly from the depths of his soul as the rooster crowed and Christ looked at him.
The taunts from the enemy continued into the late evening. I had claimed Scripture, I had prayed, I had asked for forgiveness no less than twenty times and I still could not take off the coat of shame.
As I was putting my children to bed last night, I heard the voice of the Lord tell me to share the situation with them. Gulp. You want me to do what, Lord? I thought as I tried to shove that thought away. I want you to humble yourself before your kids and show them how desperately you need Me. Trust Me. Obey me. I know what I am doing.
We sat on my daughter's bed, the four of us as I poured out the story to them. I confessed my fear, my sin and shortcomings, my panic over not feeling forgiven. Instead of seeing rejection in my children's eyes, all three of them ministered to me. The relief I had been desperate for all day tore that awful coat of shame from me and replaced it with gratitude for such a precious moment with my children.
Thank You, Jesus! Thank You that Your Word is true and that You multi-task. You asked me to humble myself and I walked away the winner, bonded with my children in a new way. You lavish the reward of Your grace on us when we obey You.
James 5:16 (New International Version, ©2010)
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.