It’s funny how shame suddenly appears when we least expect it.
Working at a toy store gives one perspective, particularly when your boss’s dad bequeathed his rock collection to her and she needs your help sorting it all. There I was, picking through a gallon-sized Ziploc of leopard skin pebbles and trying to figure out which ones counted as “large,” when a wave of emotions pummeled me with past regrets. Some of it had to do with a dream I’d had the night before involving some people from last year that re-awakened old thoughts and feelings. Dark memories captained my mind for a full five minutes and followed me home until I reminded myself of the Word and went to sleep.
Truth is, the wraiths from our past can be our greatest enemies if we don’t know how to fight them. I’ve tried to “handle” my burdens through a variety of means, and that situation from my first semester in college is a prime example of how I just couldn’t let go of something. I justified, I hid, I buried, I tried to smooth past it, talk about it a lot, prayed about it even. I “gave it up to the Lord.” I attempted to hurry past it all and pretend like it had never happened. I wrote about it, shoved it away. But, once I was truly alone on Christmas Break, regret and shame jumped me like a 300-pound defensive tackle. I was miserable and felt terribly alone, not understanding why if I had talked to the Lord so much already. It was then that I confessed I had made a mistake, not only in the situation, but how I dealt with it. It simply took reliance on Christ and time. It took me over a month to forgive myself and those involved.
Most importantly, I finally understood that, all along, the Lord had been trying to teach me a big lesson that I could’ve only learned by going through that experience. I am a stronger Christian, sister, counselor, encourager, and friend because of what I went through; although it happened, I don’t have to fear shame about it, because I know the truth: I am cleansed, and Jesus has taken all my shame for me. He died and hung on a cross for ME, was naked and spat upon and mocked and scorned for ME. I have been justified through faith, and I can stand forgiven, with no condemnation (Romans 5:1 and 8:1). Even when regrets attempt to come back and overwhelm me, I know the truth now. I can kill the ghosts.
By the Spirit, I can walk in the truth, even when my sin appears to be unforgiven and I feel like one big mistake. Relying on the Spirit is the only way we can live triumphantly in Christ; otherwise, our flesh takes over, and its yells quickly drown out the voice of the Lord. Every day, I need to pray for strength by the Spirit to live as an overcomer. I’m not as strong as I perceive myself to be.
That is why I lift my eyes unto the hills, for that is where my help comes from: the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.