14 Feb From the East to the West
My sweet daughter turned one at the end of 2017, and that milestone has made me, not surprisingly, nostalgic. As I look back, there is no doubt that it’s been an incredible year, but the truth is that it’s also been a hard one. Motherhood has been among the most humbling, sanctifying experiences of my life, but I’m learning that that is exactly where God is at work.
Because the truth is that when I reflect on other seasons of refinement, I see how God used those circumstances to expose sin, to cause me to depend more deeply on Him, and to grow my faith. God desires to use our circumstances to draw us nearer to Him, but the enemy has a sneaky way of keeping us from experiencing all that God has for us: shame.
Shame causes us to retreat, to isolate, and to believe the lie that we are the only one struggling with a particular issue, thought, emotion, or sin. Shame tells us that we are alone—that there is something wrong with us that is unredeemable or unforgivable. In its darkest moments, shame attempts to undermine the truth and power of the gospel.
For me, motherhood exposed areas of sin and weakness that I never knew existed. I looked around me and didn’t see other mothers struggling in the same way, and the shame slowly crept in and made its home in my heart.
“Shame tells us that we are alone—that there is something wrong with us that is unredeemable or unforgivable. In its darkest moments, shame attempts to undermine the truth and power of the gospel.”
When we allow shame to fester in the darkness, its lies grow more and more believable, until they become truth to us. They become our identity, they shape our relationships, and they color our view of ourselves. But as God so graciously reminded me this last year, shame is not our reality as believers. On the cross, Jesus bore our sin upon Himself that we would be free from the weight of sin and death. God knew our frailty and our fragility. He knew that we would be unable to bear up under the weight of our sin, and so He made a way, at the expense of His very own Son. I love the way Psalm 103 reminds us of this truth:
“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:8-12 (ESV)
“As far as the east is from the west–that’s how far away our shame should be.”
As far as the east is from the west–that’s how far away our shame should be. When we remember this truth, our only response is thankfulness to a God that loves us enough to cast our shame on His own Son. We must be continually alert to the schemes of the enemy and to our own tendency to compare ourselves to others, or to some ideal that we’ve created. Shame can be a vicious cycle and one that only God can free us from. As Paul reminds us in Romans, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 7:24-25).”