Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Return to Love: When Shame is a Good Thing

"Our failures can be the delicious entry 
into a new comprehension of God's grace." 
~ Dr. Dan B. Allender, Bold Love

This Valentine's Day, I wanted to make something sweet for my love.
I'd been saving some Ghirardelli chips to make chocolate-covered strawberries. But, I still needed to purchase the berries. And, I needed to hurry. The Captain would be home from work soon.  
Shopping with four children is no easy task. Being a homeschool mom, there's really no time during a weekday that I don't have my children with me, so I brought them along, hoping for the best.
As we entered the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market (yes, I have a history with Wal-Mart), Sunshine Girl, with huge grin, had a bubble wand to her lips and was about to blow. 
“No bubbles in grocery stores. Please, hand it over,” I stuck out my hand.
Her grin turned to a pout. “Aw, Mom.”
I didn't mean to be a stick in the mud, but blowing bubbles in a grocery store was an accident waiting to happen.
The moment she gave it to me, I felt cold slippery liquid spill out all over my hand. The container was upside down and the lid must have been loose.
No worries. I’ll just wipe my hand off on my pants.

The moment I did, my rings slipped off my finger and rolled under the cart, veering off in different directions.
Not just any rings, my wedding and engagement rings.
Wasting no time, I got down on my hands and knees. Right away, I spotted my diamond engagement ring in front of the cart.

But, where was my wedding ring?

It was the one my Grandpa Ernie gave to me after my Nonna died…the one I held in my jewelry box until the day before my wedding, when I gave it to my fiance’ for safe keeping…the one he slipped on my finger as he vowed to love me for the rest of my life…
I looked to the left and right.
And, there, underneath the roses display, I spotted it. The golden circle of promise. As I picked it up, I breathed in the perfume of roses.

Relieved, I slid both rings back on my finger. 
“That was close,” said a man who stood by the roses and watched the whole fiasco.
I gently wiped the bubble residue off my rings on my T-shirt. “Yeah. I almost lost my wedding and engagement rings...on Valentine’s Day.”
He smiled and walked away with roses for his sweetheart.
I held onto my rings, thankful that they weren't lost for good.
I never take my rings off, unless I am doing something where I think I might lose them. My ring-finger feels naked without them.
Ugh. Nakedness. It is a lot like an uncomfortable emotion I've been sorting through lately.
We feel emotionally naked when we’re ashamed.
In last week's post, I shared the negative side of shame.
But, sometimes, shame can be a good thing.
It can be an indicator that something is wrong in our heart.
We can be thinking wrong things or doing something wrong. Usually the thinking comes before the doing.
When we intentionally sin, it's like we forget who we are. Or worse, we don't want to be reminded of it.

The moment we put our hope in Christ, we become His bride. We belong to Him.

When we choose sin over following His ways, we are betraying His love.
It's like slipping off our wedding ring for a moment of adulterous pleasure with the idol of our choosing.
And, one way or another, everyone does it. We fail to love God with our whole heart and love our neighbor as ourselves.
In light of God's Word, we can see that no one measures up.

We all fall short of Who we should be...perfect, sinless, and Christ 
(Psalm 119: 4-6, Romans 3:23).

This realization causes shame. Especially, if we feel caught red-handed.

But, in this case, shame can be a good thing. It can lead us down the right path.

Shame accentuates our need to be covered, reminds us of our fallenness, and points us back to the heart of God. (Genesis 3:1-24, Psalm 32:1,5)

His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9, Ephesians 2:4-8)
To cover our shame.

We can return to our True Love.
No matter what we've done.
We belong to Him.
He'll always take us back.

Though we fail Him time and again, His promises to us are eternal.

We must let go of our pride, 
Our fear of shame, 
And come to Christ, 
Broken, needy,
With bare, naked hearts,
Being completely honest,
No matter how ashamed,
Owning up to what we've done, and
Trusting in His unfailing love. (Psalm 62:8, Colossians 3:1,2)

This kind of humility is the key to restoration.

A broken and contrite spirit He will not despise (Psalm 51:17).

He will listen, and continue to hold us by our hand, never letting go. (Is. 41:13)

And He will forgive us and lead us onto the path to healing (1 John 1:9) of whatever caused us to mistrust Him (1 Peter 2:24) and choose to sin.

Though it's hard to let go, when we've done wrong and confessed our sins,
It is finished.
We are forgiven. 
We can move forward with grace.

Jesus took the blame for our sin and endured our shame so that we could live for Him in freedom and in joy. 
(Heb. 12:2, 2 Corinthians 5;21)

Christ always knew Who He Was, Who He Is, and Who He will Be for eternity (John 8:58, Luke 22: 66-71, Revelation 1:7,8, Revelation 21:1-8).

And, when we know who we are, the warm wash of shame fades away into quiet confidence in His love.

Faith in Christ is 
The path to peace.
Peace is found in Him,
Not fear nor shame,
For they disappear 
In light of His grace. 
He is the King of Peace,
For He covers over 
The broken places 
In our hearts.
And, fills us 
With His love.