If you’re reading this, I can only assume that you are familiar with the feeling of shame. Although I may not be aware of what your particular poison is or what has led to this constant slow-burning feeling that shadows every decision and thought you make, I assure you that I am familiar with the feeling of regret, remorse and general wretchedness, that dirtiness that clings to your being no matter how many times you wash.
Shame is a horrible thing, yet something the majority of us live with (if not you, fair play). When you reflect upon your past, more often than not there is something that you hide from the rest of the world. Something that will instil a sense of horror within you when you think of it. Something you cannot believe you did or partook in. Something that causes you to close your eyes tight and wish it didn’t occur. Something you daren’t even whisper to your nearest and dearest. This ever-present thing that holds you back.
You’re shackled by shame. Shrouded by your sins. Unable to let go. And I want to tell you that’s human.
We compare and contrast our sins with those around us. Thoughts such as ‘what I have done is so much worse than anything they’d ever be capable of’ spirals into ‘they are such a good person, such a good Christian whereas I am terrible and disgusting, I’ll never be enough’. The thought that ‘I am so much worse’. Comparison is extremely dangerous in this sense because on a surface level, of course a person is going to paint themselves in the best possible light because that is what everyone else is doing.
We fear vulnerability and sharing our brokenness because it’s a sign of weakness, and we’re meant to be strong, meant to have it together 25/8, y’know. We try our best to maintain the illusion of indestructibility, whilst simultaneously internally crumbling to pieces, our insides corroding at a steady pace due to guilt and remorse. Our feeble human solution is to patch over the problem, ignore it and pretend it’s not there, yet anyone who has ever experienced a blocked drain will know that you can ignore the problem for a certain period of time yet pretty soon it’ll stink up the whole house and you’ll have to deal with it.
So we stumble, crawl and drag ourselves through our days, weighed down by the heaviness of that that has already happened, that which can’t be undone, unsure of how to offload or move forward.
The idea of running at this point may seem incredulous, but when it gets to this point run. Run to the arms of your Father. The idea of grace may seem extremely alien to us, yet it is freely offered to us. Love is offered to us. Forgiveness is offered to us. Things we cannot earn. So run. Run so fast that you fall flat on your face in front of Him. Allow Him to destroy the shackles of shame that hold you back in every area of your life. Pass your burden to Him, for He has paid the debt you could not. He has borne the weight that you would have crippled under, due to His love for you.
As a body of people, there is one thing we are not good at and that’s receiving grace. The cynical nature of our generation approaches the thought of something being given no strings attached with dubious suspicion, only to reject it or attempt to earn it. The ideation that there must be something I have to do to receive this. Yet that is not how God works, you are freely loved. Freely forgiven if only you wholly bring it to Him.
Your sin and shame may lead you to believe you are unworthy, that you are a lost cause, unredeemable. Yet, dear friend, that is most certainly not the case. You deserve to feel loved. You deserve to belong. You deserve to feel worthy. For we are all sinners, we all have baggage, we all have made mistakes and continue to do so every day, yet you are unbelievably loved and cherished.
So do not cower in fear. Do not stay drowning in the darkness. Do not let your shame shape and define you. Rather, when it feels you are most broken, most weary, run to Him. Run through your shame and straight to Him, for He will forgive and lighten your load with no judgement. When you can barely pick yourself up off the floor, run full force into His arms, for He will hold you upright when you no longer can. When things are bleak and the darkness is all-consuming and unending, let Him shine a little light.
So run, not from your problems, but into them and through them.
Stumbling, falling, running-through-life-with-you,