” … I was just a hot mess on a stick!” – Lisa Harper
I know that I can relate … can you, Friend?
So embarrassing are the moments that flash across my mind, that I cannot bare to open my eyes — as if someone were peeking into my thought closet seeing what I see. Those hidden skeletons — yes, the bones are still there rattling as reminders that haunt me of times gone by, but not yet far enough into the backfields of yesteryear to fade into history. Eyewitnesses still remember and make it known that they can recall all the awful details.
Yes, it’s true that Jesus died and put an end to the guilt of my sins. But the old marauder, shame, he wants to linger and hang around. Hiding around the corner, shame hurls its taunts and accusations that will strike me in a fleeting moment of vulnerability — and then there I am, stuck in that mud, sinking into self-condemnation — again. Beating myself up over the past. Paralyzed from accusations that are audible only to me.
On the outside, I’m that strong and determined overcomer — the one that others rely upon for encouragement and motivation. That’s easy to do for the sake of others. However, when it comes to my own place in the Kingdom, I must admit that it is most difficult to accept that incredible thing called grace.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV
Deception … abortion … infidelity … pornography … lies … it’s a list that I can barely write out. And certainly not a list that I would want uploaded onto any spiritual résumé.
And yet, the God of all creation — He knew that I would be this hot-mess-on-a-stick (thank you, Lisa), and He still calls me to Himself. At first thought, I would anticipate that He would call me out to destroy me. But that’s not why Jesus came. And that’s another matter.
Not only does the Father love me deeply and want me back in a relationship with Him, but He sent His only Son to be the one to pay my death penalty so that I can be one with Him. Who does that?
And while I remain face down on the pavement, He calls me again to an upright posture alongside His Son to learn from Him — the ways of the Father. In spoken word, in life decisions, in behavior, in relationship to other people … so that the rest of my time spent on this earth is more fulfilling and maybe just a little bit more happy and pleasant. Imagine that?! And He even pours in this thing called joy — and it heaping doses — all in between. Who does that?
I have to say, the very thought of it all sounds impossible. Reeling in disbelief that I could be forgiven for such terrible things that I did — knowing full well that they were wrong — I honestly find it unbelievable at times, that I would be worth all the energy and life that Jesus had. Because He came to give me His. But to do that, He had to bleed it out and be that all-perfect sacrifice that was required to satisfy my debt to God. I’m not the type of person that should have even come close to being on that list of redeem-worthy. None of us are, Friend. And so began my limited understanding of this thing called grace.
Thanking God for the Apostle Paul right now. And feeling that he and I could fist-bump over a strong cup of coffee and the enormity of grace.
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Romans 3:23 NLT
In so many instances after receiving Christ, I would never mention my past sins — to anyone. Whenever in a small group church setting, I would tuck those dirty little things into the closet where they belong. I’ve had the unfortunate experience of people gasping at my few honorable mentions (those lesser sins — but let’s face it, sin is sin no matter how we color it), you know, the “I took a paperclip from the office” sort of sin, or “I wanted to look like her” sin, or even the “I overspent on my credit card on purpose” sin. And once I got the eye from just one person or a facial response of disgust, that was it. No. More. Sharing. Withdrawals don’t just happen at your local bank.
Anyone been there?
Don’t misunderstand me here. I’m a big believer in supporting others by sharing in their burdens. But we are all human and bleed red while we walk this planet — and we have these things called feelings and emotions. These feelings and emotions can shut down and shut out other people when we feel judged. Sharing is a good thing, Friend, when others treasure your confidentiality and honor your privacy by not showing the alarm on their face.
So, I have to say that it has taken me a very long time to come out and be free of this baggage that’s been weighing me down. Exchanging shame for grace — that’s huge. And it’s not what the enemy of my soul wanted me to do. He wanted me to wallow in judgement (from onlookers that really have no bearing) — or at least, thinking that I was being judged. Shame does that. Makes us feel like we are the sin. But Scripture reminds us that while we may have acted out in sin, we are not the sin itself. Jesus took care of that and said it is finished. God says I’m His personal possession — His Daughter.
HUGE turnaround for someone who can’t get the ugly memories out of her head.
Committing these words to print was the first step to living in the freedom of that grace.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 ESV
Hearing preachers, pastors and teachers all speak on the work of grace — somehow I just never felt that it applied to me. That my sins were just so way out there and really baaad, that there’s no way the Almighty would even give me a second glance. And that’s where I was missing it. I was judging myself based on my own contrived standard. *Facepalm*
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to publicize to the world that I’ve done __________________________ in an effort to feel freer or to advertise a belonging to a ‘come clean’ advocacy group. Nor do I think that it would benefit anyone from smelling any more stench from this side of the screen. We don’t need to high five with the dirt on our hands.
But Friend, I do want to shout out that Jesus Christ did heal me from the shame that stains and lingers after the guilt has been dealt with, and He continues to heal me. And He can do the same for you! The transformation begins with our heart and mind.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 ESV
It’s a lifelong process of restoration. And yes, I do still fumble and stumble and fall on my face and make ginormous mistakes along the way. Much to my chagrin, I still sin; but I ask for forgiveness and repent and get clean with Him (again and again and again and again and again). No more hiding. Becoming transparent with you begins with being transparent with Him.
So, if you’re thinking that there’s no hope for you … you’re thinking in the wrong direction. Look up. Hope doesn’t come in a self-help program or from an insightful book. It comes from the One Who designed you for great things.
Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, Psalm 33:18 ESV
Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, Psalm 71:14 ESV
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; Psalm 130:5 ESV
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.
Acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 NET
As I said earlier, I’m a work in progress when it comes to this thing called transparency. In fact, I’m reluctant to put my name to this testimony — and I was told, “that’s okay.” So, I do this much — unashamedly, believing that there’s someone else out there who needs to hear words that can help her walk towards her Healer.
Friend, I cannot tell you to simply let it go — because it’s just not that easy. But this I can tell you: It’s easier to take hold of His Hand if yours is empty.
We thank you, Guest Writer, for your heartfelt contribution to this publication of Titus-two.com and for the courage it took for you to pen these words for Testimony Thursday.
You are loved to Heaven and Back, Girlfriend ~~
LindaRJohnson, TitusTwo Visionary