Shameful Memories

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her,and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 

Genesis 3:6-10, ESV

There is a good chance that some of your memories are pretty awful. When we get looking back we can see shameful, dark things.  Some of us carry things that are profoundly evil, and they go with us wherever we go. It’s no secret that  guilt and mental illness travel hand in hand, for they are brothers. They have tormented us for ta erribly long time. They are like playground bullies who have no fear– they  only have hatred for us.

I’m quite convinced that the only way to move on is to have Jesus Christ to fully cleanse you; and that includes your dark humiliations.  The human tendency is for concealment. We take considerable effort to conceal and cloak our past lives. (Both Adam and Eve understood personal shame.)

I remember back when my dad discovered that one of our dogs had killed a chicken.  He took that dead chicken and wired it around that dog’s neck. That dog wore that chicken for weeks.  It was awful, and it began to putrefy. The smell was terrible.  I can still see that dog, staggering and tongue lolling out and slobbering.  My dad said it was the only cure for a “chicken killer.”  The dog would get very sick, attached to this rotting carcass.  It was sobering lesson for a boy to see.

Somehow, that is what our past disgrace has done to us.  Sure we have moments when we can almost forget.  But, for the most part, it is just a temporary reprieve.  We slide back and rediscover the pain; it’s just waiting for us.   The cost on our mental health is staggering.  Many of us are driven in a mad movement to drugs and alcohol.  We are compelled to escape the pain, and for a little while it seems to work. (This is called “co-morbidity.” Which is ‘fancy talk’ for a dual problem.)

Most of us, would quickly trade this mental pain, this misery;  for a physical one. Something shameful that was done 20 or 30 years ago continues its destructive work.  It’s like filling a bucket with corrosive acid.  It will “eat” its way out.  Our conscience will not allow us to dispose of our self-disgust in this easy, cavalier manner.  We need a ‘hazmat’ crew to help us clean-up mentally and spiritually.

You have to forgive yourself.  You must (!), or you will destroy yourself and those closest to you as well.  Often these things are a moldy wall; they seem to just need a coat of paint. Our problem is that it will only cover for a short time.  After 20-30 layers are applied, we realize this isn’t really the answer. Nothing we can do is ever enough.  We must have Jesus– we must!

A full repentance is critical. Don’t scuff off this first step.  The blood of Jesus isn’t some nicety. It is foundational for salvation. We are to, by faith, start the obedience. Our blistering sin and guilt are absorbed in Jesus’ death and resurrection. He took away every ounce of sin. believe that and freedom is yours.

No matter what the sin it is forgiven.

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

2 Corinthians 5:17

 
 

Dipped in Shame

“All day long my disgrace is before me, and shame has covered my face.” Psalm 44:15

Some of us truly understand shame. It’s like we have been dipped in it, we have wallowed in it and things are sticking to us. We live out our lives in disgrace and in the sense of nasty embarrassment which we can’t truly resolve. And it affects all that we do, even in those rare moments we are not aware of it.

I honestly wish I was “teflon.” (I would love to have a ‘non-stick’ heart.) There is often a constant sense of being totally insufficient as a person. It seems I can develop a deep awareness of being defective and unworthy. Many of us feel this way all the time. It is painfully welded to us, and we keep trying to figure how to break that dark bond that’s on our hearts and minds.

Mental illness thrives on that blackness. Depression feeds on that stuff, it seems to cycle through us. Our pasts become its nourishment, and at certain times it flourishes. Sometimes it explodes in our minds, just like when you give your roses a dose of “Miracle Grow” (but in a bad way.)

I read recently, that chemists are trying very hard to develop a drug that would erase bad memories. The thinking is that people suffering from PTSD and other mental illnesses will find freedom from very ugly events. Many of us, at certain points in our lives, truly absorb the evil. Some of us end up in prison, others are addicted, and a few go ahead and commit suicide. Shame truly is at its best when it can completely incapacitate and destroy a person.

Most end up with a mental illness, and because we are so complex, it is difficult to view it as a simple ’cause and effect.’ It really is much more complicated than that. Mental illness has many layers. But if we look at our issues from a different view point we can see things we might never see. A psychiatrist once told me that 90% of resident psych patients could go home, if only they knew were forgiven.

Shame is a monster that is constantly tracking us. At times we can put some distance between us. But occasionally it leaps up on our backs and drags us down. We are humiliated with our guilt. That is precisely when we should scream out for help.

There are pastors and psychiatrists, therapists and friends who are most helpful. Practicing prayer and soaking in worship can drive the monster away. Meds can very often provide a respite. All of these have helped me. But in all of this, we must be patient.

We are dealing with guilt, and there are spiritual issues that trump everything else. Human beings were never created to bear guilt, we don’t know what to do. Shame is vigorously parasitical and consuming. If it runs amok through your life it can and will destroy you. (It is caustic– a sure way to wreck you). Some Bible wisdom:

“You know my reproach, and my shame and my dishonor; my foes are all known to you.” Psalm 69:19

“…in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Col. 1:14

“To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him.” Daniel 9:9

God has made an incredible provision for your guilt. Your sin, though it is crimson red in its intensity and very obvious, it can become as white as snow. Your shame and guilt can be erased.

“Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; For you will forget the shame of your youth, And will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore.” Isa. 54:4

It was Mark Twain, who once said, “Man is the only animal that blushes, and the only animal that needs to.”  We are ashamed, are we not, of things we’ve done in the past? The fact remains, nobody is free from shame who is unforgiven. Instead of being able to look God in the face or to look one another in the face, we want to run away and hide when our conscience troubles us. But there is an infinitely a better way…

aabryscript

 

 

What Are You Ashamed Of?

“We all carry about in our pockets His very nails.” –Luther
 

“I am proud of the good news! It is God’s powerful way of saving all people who have faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles.”  

 Romans 1:16, CEV

 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

Romans 1:16, ESV

What is it, that holds us back?  Is there a significant issue–a new boat or your next vacation to Disneyland?  Would that keep you from following Him?  Would you trade Him, for that?

So many of us are chicken when it comes to witnessing for Jesus Christ. We ‘cluck and duck’ when the subject of God or religion is raised. We hope no one is looking when we ask God to bless our food in a public place.  Honestly, most of the time the issue for us is the fear of rejection. (It’s funny but some have never really gotten past the intimidation we experienced in High School.)

The saints who watch us from heaven, have got to be astonished. (Heb. 12: 1.)  They look and wonder at the way we act, when so many of them have suffered deeply.  They have been repeatedly, and deliberately hurt. We argue about padded pews and the color of the carpeting in our sanctuary.

“For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Mark 8:32, ESV

 I suppose we need the spirit of the saints who are suffering for the sake of the Gospel. This very minute they are in prisons, in torture, in abuse all because they profess a love for Jesus Christ.

Could it be possible that God is calling you to leave your comfortable Christianity behind and tell someone that Jesus loves them and wants to save them. Will you do it, or will you be too ashamed? Let this be the year you bring the light of Christ to your dorm, your neighborhood, your apartment building, your baseball team, or  wherever God has placed you. Let Him use you for His glory!

Your faith will activate God– your fear activates Satan.

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ybic, Bryan