The overwhelming feeling that we have never been enough and never will be enough – is shame. Remember, shame isn’t simply “doing a wrong thing” [which can be forgiven] – but the deep sense that we have been “born a wrong thing” – which calls for us to literally cease to exist.
How to heal? Last blog we talked about getting our eyes on the “face” of our God – “they looked to Him and were radiant and their faces were not ashamed.” [Psalm 34:5] When we get our eyes off our shame-producing baggage and even the opinions of others about our baggage – and focus on the loving countenance of our Abba, our shame begins to melt away.
Indeed. His loving, accepting, nurturing eyes and face will heal our shame – if, that is, we actually believe that He loves us. But if on any particular day we struggle to believe that He loves us – then we aren’t likely to look at Him. Instead, we are likely to turn away…in shame. So, what then?
This is where we desperately need our believing brothers and sisters. If it really is true that God lives in each one of us then sometimes our God will heal our shame through the words, the touch, and the love that comes from another one of His kids.
Years ago, my dear friend Ed Underwood did a leaders’ retreat for the church I was shepherding at the time. After the retreat was over and everyone had gone home – Ed and I and our wives Judy and Carla decided to stay at the retreat center and spend time together. We talked about anything and everything and at some point in the conversation, Ed began to affirm me as a man and brother. I wasn’t having any of it…because of course, shame can’t receive a compliment. So I deferred affirmation after affirmation, tried to change the subject multiple times and even made excuses for why I may have accidentally done something right over the weekend. Finally Ed spontaneously did something that I will never, ever forget because it was one of the most healing moments in my entire life. He took my head in his hands, brought his face so close to mine it was borderline uncomfortable and then he said, “Kevin, don’t you get it? I…just…love…you.”
In that moment I didn’t just hear Ed Underwood’s voice. I heard the voice of my Abba Father saying to me, “Kevin, don’t you get it? I…just…love…you.” It’s hard to explain and I know it sounds mystical but Ed’s words were God’s words, Ed’s touch was God’s touch, Ed’s face was God’s face and Ed’s love was God’s love. Something healed in me that day. A huge death-dealing boulder of shame was swept out of the arteries of my spiritual heart. In a time of my life when I couldn’t look at the face of my God directly, my God came to me in the face of my brother in Christ, Ed Underwood. And when I went to bed that night, my own face reflected less shadow, was slightly more radiant…and I was less ashamed.