First United Presbyterian Church

Shame and Grace

Lent is the season to remember the sacrifice of Christ. I cannot help but vividly imagine Jesus hanging on the cross, blood dripping from the wounds of the nails and thorns that pierce his body. I cannot help but imagine the pain he must have suffered. The pain placed on him by my sins. Shame washes over me for the pain I caused as he hung from that cross.

Everyone has those moments in their lives where their behavior offends even their own senses. Moments of shame that they hope will never reach the light of day. I have many and I hold onto them fiercely. I have heard people say that God could not forgive them for their sins. Do I feel this way? Once upon a time, perhaps. But I have come to the realization that God’s grace has blanketed us from before the creation of the world. Jesus was not a backup plan. Jesus was the plan from the very beginning. God knew I would fail. God knew I would feel the shame of my failures. God reminds me that there is nothing I can do that He cannot forgive and forget as long as I place my trust in him.

If I believe this, why do I hold onto my shame so fiercely? I do not hide my shame away from the world. I do not openly portray that shame for the world, either. I am ashamed of the pain I placed upon Jesus. However, by admitting my shame in times of need, I can help others. As in Alcoholics Anonymous where a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for some time sponsors a newly recovering alcoholic, I hope that my own experience of shame can help someone else recover.

I do not hold onto my sins because God cannot forgive me. I hold onto them because I want to remember the pain I placed upon Christ. I want that constant reminder to help me not to repeat those actions. And perhaps, my shame can be used to help someone else. I never want to lose the image of Christ’s sacrifice.

 

Scripture: Psalm 51

2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank you for your love. Thank you for your goodness and grace. Thank you for your trustworthiness. Forgive me for my sins. Release me from my shame. Help me to use my experiences to help others that they too may come to know you and be enveloped by your love and grace.

Elizabeth Schierschmidt

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