I picked up an old journal today. I found the passages I was specifically seeking, but I also found other things—the kind that crimson-tints the cheeks and makes a girl wonder why in the world she would ever write something so silly, so childish, so foolish.
I forced myself to read a little longer than I wanted to, just for the effect of digging for wisdom. I always want to learn lessons from hurtful or embarrassing things so they aren’t wasted by nothing gained.
What I learned today is that in past years I let my priorities get pretty mixed up. While the cumulative damage is not nearly as awful as it could have been, and is actually probably mostly just in my own mind (because I can be very, very hard on myself), I don’t ever want to forget this burning of my cheeks over not putting things—or more importantly, people—in the correct order.
Shame can distort.
With pride as a gut reaction, it can send us into denial—and trust me when I tell you, it ain’t pretty. If you’ve ever seen someone fiercely defending errant behavior, you’ve seen how pathetic it looks. It takes us nowhere but farther down.
Shame can defeat.
When remorse becomes a club, it can bludgeon us into the ground and scream our failures into our reddened ears so loudly that any whisper of reassurance from God is drowned out completely. This leaves us believing we are a weeping, worthless mess in no shape to love and serve ourselves or anyone else.
Shame can drive.
This is when we respond rather than react, motivated by a humble spirit (which takes more work than reacting in the natural), and it works best when it involves a prayerful heart. This kind of motivation is powerful, and can bring immense growth in our lives if we’ll stick with it long enough for the whole lesson to be revealed.
It’s not fun to feel ashamed. Those moments are some of the toughest we will ever endure, that flushing of face and deep regret over things we said or did or wrote…or thought. Yes, even our thoughts, for therein nestles the birthplace of our words and actions.
Does shame distort you into defense mode, defeat you into the dirt, or drive you toward discernment and growth?
I challenge you, sweet friend, to allow God to use episodes of shame to bring you closer to Him, to grow you and stretch you and plant His wisdom deeply into your mind and heart. When shame pounces, let your immediate response be, “Okay, God, I’m feeling pretty sheepish here. What have you got for me to learn from this?”
And then watch Him turn your blushing to beauty as everyone around you watches you bloom.
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