Shame-lifter, burden-bearer, Savior, Restorer

Shame does crazy things to us.

It keeps us in the dark, so much so that we can’t even see clearly for our own selves, much less someone else.

Shame stacks on itself also. I have shame from a past sin; I hide it deep within, trying to keep it even from those who love me most, packing it down, deep inside. This packing creates a new space. A space where new sin can come in and we won’t even see it. We’ll be blindsided. Blindsided by addiction, or depression, anxiety, or just a soft chipping away, separating us from people we love for fear they unravel the truth –

we aren’t worthy.

Or we swing the other way, holding our heads high, proclaiming in a thousand tiny ways that we know better, we have at least this part together, we’re just a tiny bit better than “them” at least.

I know I’m making this sound dramatic. Surely life isn’t this desperate, shame this commanding of our every day. And it isn’t, if you know Christ, and it is…just a little, anyway. Can you imagine life not knowing Him? Maybe you do life without Him.

Maybe you know life with no shame-bearer. If so, this blog is especially for you.

This is the language of Paul in Galatians 6:1-5 – Christ in our lives, one another sharing Christ’s love through the work of the Spirit, in order to put shame where it belongs…out of our hearts and on the cross.

Read Galatians 6:1-5 below:

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. 

Paul’s burden bearing is most often associated with suffering and the struggle of our brothers and sisters in Christ. And this is most certainly true. We are called to and we do bear with others in their suffering and their rejoicing, via the work of the Spirit (see Galatians 5) and Romans 12:15:

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

There is so much hope in Life Together.

But there is a darker side to suffering and I think Paul addresses this in Galatians 6. Sin happens. We are all sinful, all of us. Every one – you, me, and the guy sitting next to you.

God gives us one another for restoration.

We hear the grace of Christ, not from a sacred orb or a billboard we drive by, but the living, breathing person God puts in front of us. The Word does the work. The Word of God, in the Bible tells the Truth of God’s love and forgiveness, but you, my friend, are the one who changes someone’s life. It is in you the same Spirit Paul speaks of in Galatians 5 inhabits, to reach out to someone struggling in sin.

Galatians 6:3 is crystal clear –

If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.

We are not better than anyone. We have no less shame than the next person. It is so easy to hide the dark stuff, but we carry the burden of another by sharing who we really are, where we have really been, rather than the spruced up version.

Freedom in Christ looks like reaching across to someone, being real, and helping them hand that burden to Christ, because we know we’ve messed up plenty in our own time.

Greek for restoration in this passage is katartizete – to fit together, to put in its proper place, to get to its proper destination.

We aren’t here in this life for “a little bit better.” We are here for fitting together as the people of God, in the place and time God has put each of us.

Shame has no place. It doesn’t fit. Instead, God gives us restoration to free us from the weight of the burdens we each hold, whether it’s past or present.

“What are you going through?”

“What is Satan throwing in front of you today?”

“Let’s pray together.”

It is in these moments God works restoration through His Spirit, around His Word.

Dr. Curt Thompson, in his book, Soul of Shame, says it like this…

“Shame is not something we “fix” in the privacy of our mental processes; evil would love for us to believe that to be so. We combat it within conversation, prayer, and other communal, embodied activities…” (pg 17-18)

Be free – free to be a part of a life with other sinful people, just trying their best, but rejoicing that Jesus Christ fills in all the gaps.

Be free – free to love enough to share hard stuff, to lift someone else’s hard stuff and help them hand it to Christ.

Be free. Galatians 6:4-5 says we test our own actions, carry our own load. It sounds contradictory, but this is the walk of faith – examining myself, confessing my sin and shame, letting Christ wash it away, so that I can help you do the same.

It is for Freedom Christ has set us Free.

 

Discussion questions:

What methods does shame use to keep us from confession?

Tell us about a time you were able to bear someone else’s burden of sin, whether it led to confession or not? What was hard about it? What was good?

Confess one thing to a Christian brother or sister – even a seemingly tiny thing – within the safety of life together and grab ahold of the freedom of forgiveness.

YA bonus – Arguing for freedom with open eyes

So often we want to reach people with a message.

We want to help.

We want to show we care.

We want more for them.

But we end up tearing down, when we meant to build up. Or we intended to preserve Truth, but did it by sacrificing the relationship.

Open eyes makes all the difference in making our point, speaking Truth in Love, and reaching across the table, the classroom, or the internet to meet someone where they are and share what really matters.

What wisdom can we gain from Paul for freedom to argue and argue well?

Check out the podcast this week –

 

Say One Nice Thing First


When I was in 6th grade I was a bit of a snit.

I liked what I liked and I didn’t like what I didn’t like.

I’m not so sure this is uncommon for middle schoolers. Part of building independence and developing past ego, ego, and more ego, is to experiment with all kinds of wants, needs, desires, and compassions, trying them on, getting them straightened out, and embracing them as our own. The question we should ask adolescents isn’t what they want to be, but who they want to be?

My mom was pretty wise. She knew I didn’t want to be someone selfish, hateful, and ugly. So standing by her bed one evening complaining about whatever unfairness occurred in my day, she stopped my words, looked straight into my eyes and said,

“Heidi, I want you to say one nice thing…

Not one nice thing right now, not one nice thing in a few days. I want you to say one nice thing before you say anything else, every time you speak.”

She proceeded to keep me accountable for three whole months –

“Did you say something nice first?

Did you think something nice about that person?

What went well? What was nice in your day?”

Common sense, right?

But not to a twelve-year-old, and not to most of the world before us it would seem.

I’m not saying that one nice thing will change everything in an instant, the way we communicate, the darkness of struggle, the intricacies of relationship, but it does change perspective that’s for sure.

Think of it another way, God disagrees with us all the time, but still talks nicely to us. What if we completely agreed with one another at all times and in all places and spaces of our lives. Sounds like world peace, but it also sounds like very little room or need for grace.

Instead we can partner with one another through words, words that sound different from one another, words that have different messages and different agendas. I super love words, but if we’re ever going to share in genuine conversation, genuine affection, genuine relationship, we’re going to have to disagree occasionally. Because I don’t look like you and you don’t look like me.

And isn’t that a really, really nice thing?

 

I’m over faking it, bring on the genuine. Let’s be ourselves. Let’s have opinions. Let’s do so nicely.

One nice thing, thought, spoken, shared, before every conversation. I think it may go a long way in loving each other and this great big world a little bit better.

One nice thing.

For more on this topic of Using Genuine Words see episode 14 of the I Love My Shepherd podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or the link below.

If you’re interested on more about Erikson’s Stages of Development, particularly ego-identity v. role confusion, here’s a helpful, simple link: https://www.simplypsychology.org/Erik-Erikson.html