We’ve been decking the halls and preparing for the Christmas season. Part of that process has been getting rid of some of the stuff we have accumulated over the course of this year to make room for the tree, gifts, and garland. Of course, it’s also prime time to purge some of the toys the kids have outgrown or that have become broken.
It’s also been cold (well, for South GA anyway), so we’ve been cycling through our winter hats and gloves. We keep them in a little basket near the door. The basket drives me nuts. When not in use, it looks great, perfectly positioned on its shelf, hiding the items inside. I got it a few years ago as part of the décor for Grey’s birthday party. It once held peaches.
This basket is a bit ill-fitting for the space I have placed it, though. I have to push the handle down for it to fit and the back side has a weave that’s loose. You can’t see any of that when I have it staged.
Kind of like shame.
We’ve all experienced shame in some form or another. Underperforming at your job. Not being chosen for the team. Letting someone down. Parenting. Circumstances out of your control. Poor choices and their repercussions. Being found out.
So, we present our good sides and make sure to keep the lacking looms hidden. We use the best filters and insist we’re good. The shame is pushed down, unwelcome. But it soon begins to fester.
The thoughts and feelings that stem from shame can be overwhelming. It feels like everywhere you go, someone is on to you. Psychologists call this the imposter syndrome. That you’re never as good as you think you are and at any time, someone will expose you as a fraud.
The good news is, God already sees the real you. He sees you struggling. He knows your heart is still heavy from the things that happened a long time ago. He knows your loss. He saw what they posted. He heard what they said about you. He saw your tears. He heard your prayers. He knows you’re trying. And He knows that you’re afraid you can’t keep up the façade.
He’s not asking you to. He is the God who turns shame into glory.
He takes what has happened and uses it to shape your heart. Joy comes in the mourning.
When you are in the midst of mourning, it feels like morning will never come. Some nights, you don’t want the morning to come. You can stay awake staring at the ceiling and begging sleep to come, but it is still preferable to the dawn and having to fix your peach basket again. You’re not always fine, and that’s ok.
Just don’t lose hope. Your story matters. What you’ve been through matters. The path that you’re walking is the one that you were chosen for. There are things for you to grow through and there are people that need you.
Don’t hold on so tightly to your shame that you miss where God is leading you. If you need to mourn the life you thought you’d have or the career you wanted or the kids that aren’t as perfect as you’d prayed they would be, do it. But don’t stay there.
Make room in your heart for God to fill. Let Him into the shame and regret and fear. Let Him clean out the old stuff you’ve stashed away all year. Let Him make your heart into something with a little more holly. Let His joy make you a little more jolly.
You don’t always have to hide your shame. There will come a day when someone with a look of exhaustion you know too well finds you and confides in you her story of shame. And it’ll sound a lot like yours. And you’ll have the story of how God used your shame for glory.
James 5:13 “Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing praises.”
1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
Psalm 103: 8-12 “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”
Psalm 22:5 “To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.”
Psalm 32 1-5 “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.”