Warm Wednesday Words: Despising the Shame

scandalDictionary.com – *Shame – 1. The painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another.  4. A fact or circumstance bringing disgrace or regret.

*Shame  launches us into a sort of sacred suffering that gives us tools, otherwise illusive, that can actually save us.  It can originate in our own conscience, or it can be “assigned” to us by others who are more then willing to serve it up and offer seconds.  Constructively, it can provoke remorse and change, or when felt on behalf of others, comfort, grace and prayer.  Yet it also can circle over our heads with landing gear down, powerless to make its mark, if we aren’t willing to humbly inspect our hearts.

Jesus was no stranger to shame.  He didn’t turn from it, but conquered the sting of it for the joy that came from making a way to save us.  Hebrews 12:2, “Who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame…”  Shame can be a stalker and a haunter, especially if we’re prideful, but when we follow Jesus example and despise it, we shrink it to its rightful place and role and amazing things can happen.

When I worked at a local daycare, we often sang action songs including a favorite “We’re going on a Bear Hunt”.  Within the lyrics, there is a great message, “we’re coming to a wide river, and there’s no bridge going over it, no tunnel going under it, it’s just plain old water, and we’re gonna have to swim…I’m not afraid.  Are you?”

We’re often put in circumstances just like that.  There’s no way around, under, or over.  We just gotta go through and get thicker skin while the elements pelt us.  The ultimate example is Christ on the cross.  John Piper wrote an excellent post on what it means to despise the shame.  He concluded Jesus “despising the shame” was like saying, ‘Listen to me, Shame, do you see that joy in front of me?  Compared to that, you are less then nothing…You think you have power.  Compared to the joy before me, you have none…. You think you can distract me.  I won’t even look at you….You are a fool.  Your filthy hands fulfill holy prophecy.’  There was once a man who over the course of his lifetime had experienced devastating parenting failures with dire consequences, committed adultery, and set up a murder to cover his own mistake.  Yet because he loved God and repented of his sins, he was able to say, “Those who look to Him are radiant with joy.  Their faces will never be ashamed.”  (Ps. 34:10)  If you guessed David, you’re right.  I love reading the Psalms, and am thankful he despised the shame and told his story.

So yeah, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, and so can you.  That includes the boldness to be honest and humble for Christ’s sake, no pun intended.  Some would rather avoid the power tools that can be earned in trials and shame, then admit anything shameful touched them or their families.  Ann Voskamp said in a recent post “the worst grief is a grief that cannot speak…..Grief is the guaranteed price we pay for love.”  The Bible is rife with examples of the type of guarantee that things are going to get tough, and that there’s no way around but through.   There are no guarantees of turbulent free friendships, marriages, parenting, businesses, health, reputations, etc; only of a Savior who will walk beside us triumphantly through the turbulence and “keep” that which we’ve committed to Him, ultimately souls.  He may allow some deep plunges, shame, grief, or heartache in order to refine and use what is of high value to Him.

For us, the hope and promise is that we have a Savior who showed us how to despise the shame and find joy.   Have the filthy hands of shame and despair propelled you toward a destiny?  Are you willing to share what might be useful to encourage someone?

Despise the Shame

*For the purpose of this post I chose not to split hairs over shame vs. guilt.

Warm Wednesday Words: Acres of Hope

IMG_9703As another Mother’s Day approaches I am leaning into hope and steering clear of man’s conclusions as I prod through my valleys.  I  refuse to compare myself to Mother Theresa, Susanna Wesley, Michelle Dugger, nor any young and idealistic mother full of preconceived notions about life and parenting, though I’m happy for all of them.  But for myself, I’m madly in love with my kids and grandkids no matter what.  Every single one.   The sweetest celebration of my motherhood is not on any one particular day, or in reveling in any one of my children’s successes, though I do that.  It is in the thoughtfulness of each one of them throughout the year.  And then another year and another and another.  It is in cards, calls, visits, and laughter.  For the ones with children (my sweet grands), it is in the effort they put into guiding the grandkids to gift us with sweet indulgences of artwork, notes, hugs and chats.  For seasons when there has been too much gap between visits or too much silence in the conversation, (on either end) it is in the celebration of a God who mends and heals in our lack, our uncertainty, and yes, even in our sin.

If I have ever doubted the lavishness of my God, and I don’t generally, I have only to feast my eyes on an azalea bush in May to settle the matter.

IMG_9723For my friends who have yearned to have children, but could not, I am sorry.  Truly sorry.  My heart aches for you.  I am also sorry for those who have loved and held a child who passed away.  There are no words to say I understand, because I don’t and can’t.  Your hope for reunion is literally an eternity away.  Then there are heart holes for those who have had to give up a child, parent a child without the parenthood “title” or for those of us who have miscarried without ever holding that child.  As Ann Voskamp said in a recent post, “Grief is the guaranteed price we pay for love.”  She went on to explain that God is the ultimate grief converter because He promises to invade our grief with joy and pour lavish comfort on us in our circumstances.

IMG_9735I hope that God fills your heart with hope in abundance this Mother’s Day…hope that you know how much love God has for you.  If you are a believer in Christ as your Savior who died for you, that makes you a daughter of the King, and a joint heir with Christ.  In other words, you are royalty!    Since God has all the traits that were divided in Adam when He created Eve, He longs to love us and our children with a motherly type love, as well as a fatherly love, and of course, His agape love (which is not based on feelings).  “How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings…” from Luke 13:34.

This Mother’s Day I once again am thankful that God indulgently  allows us to be a miracle in the middle of our circumstances.   Our compass is always pointed to hope, as is beautifully expressed in a song about Christ and the church, “And though you’re in the dark here call me friend…not safe but worth it, so worth it…As you lead us away to valleys low, to acres of hope, acres of hope.”

Do you realize the miracle that He has allowed you to be and the acres of hope that He is leading you in from your “unsafe” valley?