Have you ever felt, heard, or believed the lie: "I will live with this shame for the rest of my life. Keeping the ugly things hidden protects me and keeps me safe from public opinion and rejection."The truth is, it destroys your relationships before they even start. Shame is one of the biggest hindrances to true and lasting intimacy. Intimacy between you and God and intimacy with others. We were meant to be in loving community and family. It has never been good for us to be alone.
Some of you may be thinking; well thats fine because I don't really want to be close to anyone anyway. I don’t really need people because they’ve always let me down and I’ve been fine on my own… But you truth be told, you know that deep down the real reason is this; if you do let people close, they may see the real you and not like what they see - because you don't.
Shame keeps our thoughts pointed towards a vicious cycle of defeat when God has empowered each one of us to overcome every situation and circumstance of life. Shame is like a dark cloak that lingers around our shoulders acting like it has permission to cover the real “us” for the rest of our lives. That shame makes us feel like “we’re the only one” that has ever dealt with this or felt this way… It’s simply not true.
Isolation that leads to shame is the serpents age old trick, he’s been doing it since the garden and if you’re not savvy enough to be aware of his wiles, he will try the same thing with you over and over and over. If he can get you out of the presence of your Father and into agreement with him, he can get you to see that you are naked and look foolish, when God created you to be completely free in front of him, warts and all.
Whether you are conscious of it or not, you live from belief systems and theology, as well as minister and give from the place of your identity - who you THINK you are OR who God says you are. Our identity is directly correlated to our connection to God or lack there of. Intimacy and trust in our God only comes as we systematically break down unhealthy belief systems and let Him fully into the dirty, shameful and broken places of our lives. We view the world and the word of God through our experiences and our reaction to them and at times, our insecurities, fears, and pain can dirty the lenses of our viewpoint and hold us back from true connection to God, the source of all life and reality.
Depending on the level of pain you have gone through whether it was brought upon you by someone else, or you made choices that brought that pain, you could be viewing God through an unhealthy lens that is negatively effecting your identity and causing you to perpetually live in shame. The more we allow God into every part of our lives and calloused parts of our hearts, the more we become solid in our revelation of who He truly is.
From the very beginning, God gave us a choice - free will. In the garden, there were two trees, one that gave eternal and everlasting life, and one that brought death. One of them we were free to eat from - the tree of life, the other was forbidden because God wanted to protect us from eternal death and destruction.
Genesis 2:8-9 and 15-17 NIV
8 Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
One tree - the tree of life, brought just that - LIFE, intimacy and relationship forever with The Father who seals our identity. From that place of relationship with the creator, we would always know who we are and walk in unending trust, naked and unashamed of who we were created to be. The other tree, brought the knowledge of good and evil. It brought the knowledge of a war that was raging on in the heavens to steal, kill and ultimately destroy our lives and cut us off from the one who loves us. God’s desire has always been to protect us from evil and to be in close relationship with Him.
Imagine for a moment my husband Paul and my daughter Finley’s relationship. They utterly adore eachother, there is nothing that Finley want’s to hide from her daddy… She knows she is absolutely treasured and loved for who she is, when she is cute and when she is not so cute. Paul has solidified that in countless ways, how he speaks to her, holds her and gives her affection. How they dance, giggle and carry on conversation and even how he affirms her after she has been disciplined and so on. Their connection is strong and it’s obvious to all who observe their relationship.
Now, for instance, if the devil goes after Paul and says “you’re a bad father, you’re not doing enough for your daughter. She questions your love, you’re a failure… She doesn't trust you…” Paul has enough wherewithal to tell the devil to shut up and mind his own business and remind him that he’s a liar. But if the devil goes after Finley (and he will… we’re not stupid, so we're teaching her the authority she walks in because of Jesus and we aptly named her Finley which means "fair haired warrior") and whispers in her ear “Your daddy doesn’t love you. He doesn’t think youre beautiful like he says, he’s just making that up. He’s not proud of you, he didn’t really say that. And when you mess up… He slowly stops loving you.” Finley would be devastated, and begin to be more self aware of all her issues. She would begin to perform for Paul, desperately seeking to perform for his love that she already fully has, and in the worst case, would cut herself off due to the shame she feels for not living up to the standard of her fathers love.
The truth is, Paul loves her no matter what she does. It is that simple. And more than that, he is righteously angry when the devil messes with her. In the garden, the devil went after God’s kids because he knew it would hurt God. God has already defeated the devil, hence him being thrown out of heaven for trying to compete with God’s glory. Satan has nothing on God, but he continuously attempts to destroy His kids, and it grieves the heart of God when His kids are poked, prodded, assaulted, lied to and attacked by the devil. God gave us a free will to fight back, but so often we just allow satan to wreak havoc in our lives without calling upon our Dad in heaven who has all authority to kick him where it counts. ENGAGE THE GOD FATHER PEOPLE!
The devil snuck into the garden, where he wasn’t welcome and usurped God’s authority, lying to God’s beloved creation and stole our true identity in Christ by separating us from our creator and Father. As the story plays out, we know that Adam and Eve chose, as an act of their free will (which God did not and still does not violate) to be in agreement with satan and receive the knowledge of good and evil over the tree of life (which they could eat from liberally) and ultimately an everlasting relationship with God. In that moment of deception they cut off their eternal connection to God and shame slipped out of hell and began to infiltrate earth.
Genesis 3:6-11 MSG
6 When the Woman saw that the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of it—she’d know everything!—she took and ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband, and he ate.
7 Immediately the two of them did “see what’s really going on”—saw themselves naked! They sewed fig leaves together as makeshift clothes for themselves.
8 When they heard the sound of God strolling in the garden in the evening breeze, the Man and his Wife hid in the trees of the garden, hid from God.
9 God called to the Man: “Where are you?”
10 He said, “I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked. And I hid.”
11 God said, “Who told you you were naked? Did you eat from that tree I told you not to eat from?”
That line gets me “Who told you you were naked?” - Who told you sex was shameful or dirty? Who told you intimacy is disgusting and hard? Who told you to hide from God in the darkness of your sin? Satan, that’s who. God knew the answer to the question then, and He knows it now. He is waiting for you to bring the ugly things into the light… He knows who put shame on you and He wants to wash it off.
In this very moment, He is asking you… “Where are you?”
Where are you spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically? He wants to come and meet with you - right where you are. He made a way to deeply connect with Him through His Son Jesus, to reach out and rescue you in any situation. He doesn't come to you like a disapproving school teaching saying "Shame on you!" when you have made a stupid decision. He comes to lift all of that disgusting, degrading shame right off of you and cover you under the shadow of His wings...
He has come today to say... "Shame off you!"