Ignoring Shame, Experiencing Joy
by Sue Tell
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne.
Hebrews 12:2, NLT (bolding mine)
The theme of shame begins in the story of creation. Genesis 2:25 translated in the New Living Translation (NLT), "Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame." Adam and Eve, totally exposed and naked, felt no shame. Before the fall, they were completely at peace with who God created them to be, living in the joy of their creation together. Then sin entered the world and shame became a thing.
Shame is different from guilt. Guilt is a gift God has given us to make right what we have done wrong. Shame, however, communicates I am something wrong. It whispers lies to me. In my words, shame told me, I was not good enough. I think Eve believed the same thing, and like Eve, for years I tried to cover it up. My fig leaves did not work either.
I was not good enough to receive an invitation to the special Girl Scout Camp.
I was not good enough to earn a spot on our high school color guard squad.
I was not good enough to pledge a sorority my freshman year of college.
I was not good enough to be asked to speak at the conference.
On and on the list goes, my shame deepened in direct relationship to lost opportunities.
Do you see what I was doing? I was basing my good-enough-ness on activities; activities that I believed would communicate to you that I was good enough. Because those activities didn't materialize, I felt rejected and it reinforced my shame.
Jesus also felt the attack of shame. Hebrews 12:2, Today’s Treasure, records that for us. Jesus, who taught us about eternal life, was now dying.
John 1:4 "In him was life ..."
John 6:35 "... I am the bread of life:"
John 17:3 "And this is eternal life ... Jesus whom you have sent."
Jesus disregarded Satan’s shame filled attacks. Other versions translate the word disregarded in Hebrews 12:2 as despised the shame, or ignored the shame, or scorned the shame. Jesus did not listen to the shame.
For years I did not know how to ignore the shame that engulfed my life, until God orchestrated for me to benefit from a Biblical counselor. For the first time, I really heard how much God loved me. Instead of measuring God's love for me based on activities, I learned that God loved me because he created me in his image. I began to relax into being me.
God not only loves you very much, but also has put his hand on you for something special ...
I Thessalonians 1, The Message
In learning how much God loved me, something else happened -- JOY! Like the angel's announcement to the shepherds, "... I bring you good news of great joy ..." Luke 2:10. As the good news of the gospel permeated me, I too found great joy.
I'm learning the truth of Psalm 16:11, "... in your presence there is fullness of joy;" Quiet time is no longer a task I check off my daily do list. It is enjoying the presence of God.
I'm learning new joy in friendships. John understood this:
Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.
2 John 1:12
Like in the reality of John's day, sometimes paper and ink ... or a computer in my day ... are a good second best.
I'm learning new joy in affirming who God created you to be:
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works ...
There is great joy in noticing how God created you and sharing my joy with you.
Oh Father, thank you for Your great love for us, Your children. Father, thank you for joy, the joy we experience in our friendship with You, and the joy we experience in our friendship with Your other children. Father, for today please help us all to recognize areas of shame, and to ignore them as Jesus did by replacing them with truth. Amen.
Sue Tell and her husband Bill have been married for almost 46 years and have served on the staff of The Navigators for 46 years as well. Although their official roles have changed over the years, the campus ministry has always been a part. Sue writes a weekly faith-based blog, Echoes of Grace, that you can find at suetell.com. (Echoes of Grace is "on leave" for the months of July and August for some website updates but will return September 6.) Sue also enjoys facilitating Sabbath-Living retreats to help women grow in their friendship with God. Bill and Sue have two married sons, five grands, and her favorite walking buddy, a Golden Retriever named Lexie.