07 Mar The Last Second Date
Around this time of year, nine years ago, I had what I trust, Lord willing, will be my last second date. Although I can’t remember too many details about where we were or even exactly what we did, I know that it was around that point in our brand-new relationship (we met on a blind date) when I would have initiated “the conversation.” I’m divorced.
I never felt like the first date was quite the right time to talk about it, unless the person already knew this about me. But I didn’t want to withhold such information either. So the second date always felt like the right time. And when the time would come, I would step back into that old identity. Basically, it was my way of saying “Listen, let me just go ahead and tell you this because it might make me unlovable to you and I’m giving you a way out … ”
The divorce is far back in my adult past. It even predates my conversion to becoming a follower of Christ. Yet in that second-date moment, it feels like it just happened yesterday. It feels like failure, disappointment, and pain. Most of all it feels like shame. I can never take it out of my story. I will always have to tell it as part of my story, even someday to my children. And each time I told it to a new romantic prospect, it made me feel tainted, and I would know that in some way my shame would have to become a part of that person’s story if things between us moved forward.
“But it was the way Jesus entered into my shame that truly helped me to understand how the Lord deals with shame.”
As a Christian now, I know that part of my identity in Christ is to enter into the shame He suffered on the cross. That always feels easy for me. I know shame. But it was the way Jesus entered into my shame that truly helped me to understand how the Lord deals with shame.
Romans 5:8 says that “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” I had been in the depths of worldly sin. The Lord used a string of circumstances so powerful, personal, and intentional to turn my eyes to Him. It was a re-awakening of a churchly foundation my parents had instilled in me as a child. But I needed something more than that, and what God gave me was Jesus. Jesus Himself pursued me and revealed the humanity of His Deity to me. He helped me to understand that He knew everything about my daily circumstances, my sin, and my shame. He reached out to me through Scripture and daily occurrences in my life, which through repetition confirmed that He indeed was speaking to me. My past wasn’t keeping Him away. He wanted to be close to me, and He let me know it in ways that wouldn’t have made sense to anyone else, but to me they were precious. Nothing I had done in the past affected the future promises He was extending to me. He was not ashamed to call me “friend”.
“Jesus Himself pursued me and revealed the humanity of His Deity to me . . .Nothing I had done in the past affected the future promises He was extending to me.”
This part of my story is something I go back to in my mind regularly. I know that in the end, it will endure and triumph over the nagging reality of the shameful part of my story. In a way, I’m always still on that second date, expecting that I might be judged or left behind. Sometimes it can be a challenge to see myself as who I actually am now in Christ. For me and for everyone, sanctification is a process and needless to say, the Lord is not finished with me yet. He is revealing truth to me though, and healing me patiently. I don’t expect that the past/present/future identity battle within me will truly be over until I see Jesus face to face. But in the meantime I preach to myself that Jesus knows how I feel. On the cross, He picked up my shame and put it on Himself. Oh, what a Savior.
“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2
Kathy is often amused by God’s creativity and timing in her life. After years of singleness and a career, God turned her life upside down. Today, her “business card” would say: Wife. Mother. Teacher. Follower of Christ. Kathy attends our Powdersville campus.