Lord willing, in exactly fifteen days, we will be in newborn la la land, holding our girl, Connolly Grey. A slow smile is creeping across my lips because I can hardly wait for that first moment of pulling her up to my chest. And let me simply slip a word of praise for new life – thank you, God, for its miracle – thank you for giving us feelings beyond our capacity to explain.
But as you know, I have exactly three things I want to say before that moment. Last week, it was to cling to Truth. I could keep on pouring that truth on thick as the Bible is worth that kind of time. But, alas, there is something that has come to mind that needs to be said.
With the hope for change.
What could it be?
It’s something I heard while watching IF:Gathering and it resonated. As a panel of women discussed how they have had to persevere in their faith, one woman said this, “to Hell with shame.”
And I nodded my head.
I’m repeating this, not for shock factor, but simply because I want to expound on it.
Shame’s home is Hell.
Melissa Blair, with her cute haircut and story of redemption, spoke of an abortion she had at age 16 and the very next day she began hemorrhaging. So ashamed to tell anyone of her choices, she handled it on her own. And so it was for the next twenty years. Afraid of the judgment and shame, she carried around her own scarlet letter.
And truth is, many of us do the same.
Melissa says this in her story online – death is often preferable to judgment.
And truth be told, death is just as preferable to judgment inside the church as it is outside. Melissa speaks to how she couldn’t share her story inside her church because there was no promise of healing. There was no vulnerability and truth-telling of all the other terrible, awful, disgusting things everyone else had committed. Yes, I’m talking about the pew-sitters and Jesus-lovers. We grow silent of our filthy acts of pride. We are ashamed of our secret sins. We become shackled to the garbage inside our minds. When the reality of every single church, in every single country, is that we hold one thing in common. What is it? That we each of us walk with invisible scarlet letters.
Yes, me included.
But one day, 2000 plus years ago, Jesus cried out, “Why have you forsaken me?” as he suffered a disgusting, brutal, gut-wrenching death on a cross. I imagine God saying, “Why? Why must you suffer? Let me tell you why: because it’s my will to put shame to death. Because that isn’t how I created humanity in the first place. Because I am God and shame is not part of me, nor should it be a part of my image-bearers. My imago dei.”
To Hell with shame.
And so Jesus took that shame on himself and carried it to Hell. And he meant to leave it there.
The very last line of God’s story before the fall is a simple one. It reads, “Both the man and wife were naked, yet felt no shame.” (Genesis 2:25)
This is how God wrote the story. But then filth entered our world. And that filth leads us to shame. So, we need to evaluate ourselves, friends.
Have you allowed your shame to stay in the courts of hell or do you find yourself each morning, knocking on hell’s gates, wondering if you could have it back? Because honestly, most of our shame is worn around us like a security blanket.
Now you may not be ashamed of an abortion, although 1 in 3 of us are. You may not be ashamed of an inappropriate relationship, although many of us struggle with lustful feelings for either the opposite or same sex. I mention these two because for some reason we’ve hung those out to be “the worst” sins one could commit.
But our sin is no different in God’s eyes. Your filth might look different.
The first step is to discover it. And the second is to say it out loud. Confess it. Give it up. Take it back to Hell where it belongs and live free again. If you and I do this for the rest of our lives, then we might begin living like the Jesus-people we long to be like.
Unshackled and free. And the church might just start looking like the freedom place God created her to be.
May it start with us.
Who can you confess your shame to? Can you be the spark in your church this weekend? No need to share your shameful places in the comments below as I feel like one-on-one connection is the very best way to practice this, but if you long to share a story below on how you’ve experienced freedom, it would be incredibly encouraging. And might just lead others to freedom.