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: [click to continue…]