From Shame to Grace

by Andy Wood on April 16, 2010

in Esteem, Five LV Laws, Life Currency, LV Alter-egos, Pleasers, Principle of Freedom

And you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God.

You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast.

Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion,

and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance;

and so they will inherit a double portion in their land,

and everlasting joy will be theirs (Isaiah 61:6-7, NIV).

It’s a scary journey, the move from shame to grace.  But it’s a journey every growing believer in Christ, every recovering addict, every healing soul must take.  The paths are often unfamiliar.  Lessons must be un-learned and relearned.  You will be forced to face down familiar, but largely unchallenged beliefs.

People who live in the realm of shame live in a world the Brennan Manning describes as “huffing and puffing to impress God.”

It’s a realm of performance.  Brownie points or self-condemnation.  Self-fixing mixed with wallowing in guilt.  Comparing ourselves to others in order to feel superior… or to prove what an absolute joke we are.  “You’re nothing,” shame whispers.  “And if people really knew you, they would agree.”

As much of a liar as shame is, sometimes it’s more comfortable to return to old patterns of thinking and feeling.  It’s embarrassing and uncomfortable to confront the truths of the scandalous grace of God.

“I am a creation of infinite worth?” Ridiculous.

“I am totally forgiven?” What do you mean, “totally?”

“I am completely loved, fully pleasing?” In what universe?  What absurd fantasy?

Challenge that!  Confess the truth, whether it lines up with your feelings or the twisted logic of shame or not.  And most of all, learn to accept the grace of God as it is expressed through the graciousness of others.

The secret is gratitude.  When a friend encourages you, when someone offers a gift, when another praises you, receive it with the same graciousness in which it was offered.

Try this for practice:

1.  Take a deep breath.

2.  Let out half of it.

3.  Hold what you have left.

4.  Smile, and repeat after me:

5.  “Thank you.”

Yeah, yeah, I know.  You don’t deserve it.  But the cross has forever settled the fact that you ARE worthy of it. Deserving is the result of what you do.  Worthy is the result of who you are.  And who you are has been forever determined by the choices Jesus made on your behalf.

Are you hungry?  Nourish yourself.  Feed and care for your body.  Nourish your soul and spirit.  Balance your life and discover the rest of being satisfied.

Are you angry?  Be honest!  Then take appropriate action.  Correct the injustice, confront an offender, cry out to God, call a trusted friend.  But don’t beat yourself up because of a second-hand feeling.

Are you lonely?  Remember, you are deeply loved.  Let those around you express to you your true value.  Spend time with quality people who will strengthen and establish you.  Let your roots grow deeply into their lives and find connection there.

Are you tired?  Then rest.  Spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally.  Take a Sabbath.  Re-create yourself.  Take a laughter break.  Take a nap.  Take a moment for you.  You’re worth it, whether you deserve it or not.

These are the things that people do when they are living under grace.  I know you don’t deserve it.  After all, that’s what makes it… grace.

Eric Chaffin April 16, 2010 at 8:48 am

Praise the Lord that He blasted my shame into tiny bits with His grace, by the power of the cross.

"V" April 25, 2010 at 7:40 am

I really would like to thank you for this wonderful post! I just came from spiritual and emotional depression, but it was all like singing Bob Marley’s
“I can see clearly now” when I read this post!

There is true shame when we have conscience to ourselves, about our screw-ups/sins, and after all that, we might as well be surprised as God’s grace will come along the way,(you’ll suddenly fell you’re burden is taken away, chains broken, all because of having self-shame and self-conscience!) even if we don’t deserve it, well as this post says it all, that’s the true purpose of grace!

Andy Wood April 25, 2010 at 9:16 am

V – Thank you for your encouragement. I often say that the primary reason people feel guilty is because they are! But shame is a different matter. Guilt says, I have done a bad thing. Shame says, I am a bad person. Grace says, Jesus died for my sins, and nobody “deserves” that – that’s what makes it grace!

I hope you will keep reading – and keep resting in the grace of God.

bill b April 27, 2010 at 12:55 pm

I have been struggling with thoughts of shame and berating myself. I have decided to focus on my positives and congradulate myself for my progress. I have made a lot of changes and I am grateful to God to giving me opportunities to learn from others. I have heard that God speaks through other people and I strive to be a positive influance in others’ lives. I want to focus on others and help them, by that I will feel better. I am not the center of the Universe! Humility is accepting that I am no better or worse than anyone else.

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