(This is without a doubt the hardest post I’ve ever written. but I’m convinced if this message will help someone else, it’s worth the pain of putting it out there.)
Several years ago I screwed up big time. Big time. My stupidity and foolishness caused widespread damage and put everything I hold dear at risk. I was incredibly selfish and was willing to risk it all for something so fleeting it shames me to write this now.
At the time, my family was surrounded by a strong community and they rushed to our sides to help. Their love and care and concern were like a healing balm. And although they didn’t do everything right…I do believe I owe them a debt I can never repay.
They were there. And that was needed more than anything.
In the midst of that cloud of pain and confusion and shame God came. As so often happens, He spoke to me through the voice of a friend. This friend took my shoulders in his hands and he made me look up into his face. He simply said, “this will not define you.”
That phrase rocked me. Was he kidding? That was everything that defined me in that moment. My life was a complete wreck. My shame over the destruction I had caused was like a heavy wet blanket draped over my shoulders. It weighed me down and smothered me. I saw myself as a complete failure through that filter. My sin…my mistake absolutely defined me. And that fact shamed me.
Have you ever felt like that?
Now as I look back, I can see the truth of His words to me that day. God hasn’t benched me or put me on the back burner. He doesn’t treat me as damaged or flawed or “less than.” Through His grace, I’m redeemed. Through His mercy, He’s allowed me to not only be in the game but to play an important role.
And while He’s filled my life with meaning and purpose, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t live with some degree of the pain I caused. But when I struggle with the dragon of shame…I hear His voice, “this will not define you.”
I want to encourage you. If you are living under the cloud of condemnation over a past wrong let me assure you…God doesn’t intend for that to define your life. Yes there are consequences. Yes there is a price to pay. But your life doesn’t have to stop at that point.
You are much more than the collection of mistakes you’ve made.
Remember, when our head hangs in shame…He is our glory. He is the one who takes our face in His gentle hands and lifts it so we can look Him in the face and bathe in the love from the look in His eyes as He whispers…
“This will not define you.”
Thank you Mike….This is something I’ve been dealing with since “THE DIVORCE”…
I have felt for a long time that maybe you were writing these posts just for me! 🙂 But this one in particular is something I needed to hear. I believe that we know God’s forgiveness in our hearts, but comprehending that God forgives us no matter what, that his grace and sweet mercy know no boundaries, is at times hard to absorb.
As in your case, a good friend spoke those words to you. In turn you shared them with us.
The last 4 years of my life have been pretty hellish. Last year was the worst. I do my best to try and not wallow in “pity” lake, but I find myself at times being defined by my circumstances, mistakes, weakness, and second guessing the deeply life altering choices I had to make. Thank you for putting yourself out there and sharing this. I am so appreciative.
God bless you Mike!
Jana, thanks so much for your heartfelt comment. It’s encouraging to me that the words I write land and land with meaning and impact. I’m glad they’ve been a blessing. I believe that shame is one of the most insidious and cruel weapons that the enemy possesses. And when he uses that weapon against us it cripples and paralyzes us; keeping us from moving forward. Believe me, I’m very familiar with “pity” lake and the wallowing that takes place there. But my promise to myself and to God every day is “I will not wallow. I will rise up and do battle. I will defeat the dragon of shame because I wear the breastplate of righteousness (right standing with God) that confirms that I’m not shameful. And because I carry the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit! I’ll be praying for you!
Thank you Mike! I’ll take those prayers!
God is so faithful. I have no regrets of walking through the Refiner’s fire. It has all reshaped my relationship with the Lord and I am forever humbled and grateful!
He reminds me daily how much I am a loved and cherished daughter!
Mike, II’m so grateful that our yesterdays are totally in the Past and we are now living from the
Present to the Future! I’m ever so grateful that the Lord lifted you up out of the mire with His
victorious right hand, and set you on a higher place to now conquer and claim for the Kingdom!
Let the Redeemed say so…..and you are ~ praise the Lord! Keep it up and with each testimony, each Blog, and each written word, you convince the enemy that You have taken vengeance
against him and he is fighting a losing battle. You have collected your Inheritance as a true
Son born for such a time as this! And you are taking back the land that was stolen – not only your land, but showing others how to do the same. You are definitely defined as a Son and Heir and know exactly who you are! Something most of always knew!
Thanks Mike! That spoke to me, I needed that. I really like the visual at the end.
From a former Shepherd’s Fold kid