No Shadow of Shame

I usually don’t even feel the words burrowing until they’re already under my skin. A little comment here, a critical thought there, slipping in and lodging like tiny splinters that feel like they should be easy to ignore. And there they sit, taking root until I’ve incorporated their poison and pain into my movements like they’re just part of who I am.

Sometimes I don’t realize how much I’ve slowed and stiffened until things that used to come easily just don’t anymore. Taking a full breath. Loving without fear. Letting myself be seen. Those splinter words are seeds of shame, and when they’ve grown a bit they can be downright paralyzing.

Shame is an expert impersonator. It mimics our own voices, pretends it’s familiar and trustworthy, convinces us it belongs. After all, it does carry shades of reality, reflecting fragmented memories of all the selfish, destructive decisions we’ve made, and all the ways we’ve been broken.

Who do you think you are? Do you remember…?

Those memories of choices we’ve made and choices others have made for us tell us that we’re helpless to make them stop. We can argue with shame, pack it down, drown it out, ignore it, live to prove it wrong. But its seeds stay rooted, because we can’t change the past. There’s nothing we can do.

Nothing WE can do.

The only place shame loses its power is at the Cross. Jesus has already removed us from the reach of every sin committed by us or against us.

So it turns out that shame is lying, like nerves that still feel pain in a phantom limb. It’s a perception of heaviness over things that don’t exist anymore, words and wounds that are as far away as the east is from the west. Things that don’t exist don’t have any power at all. And things that are powerless don’t need to be feared.

Those words may still sneak under our skin, but as soon as we remind them that Jesus has stolen their power, they dissolve into nothingness. No more poison. No more pain. Just freedom to move and love and be seen.

“Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.” ~Psalm 34:5 (NLT)

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