Excerpted from the book by Lena Arnold entitled “Scenes From the City: Poetic Pictures of Urban Life” available on Amazon.
Several years ago I found myself in a very uncomfortable situation that resulted in three of the most humiliating hours of my life!
For months, I wouldn’t talk to anyone about what happened, because I was afraid of what people would think when they found out. Surprisingly what I discovered was an appreciation for my honesty and candor; as well as a God ordained moment to minster to someone with similar hurts and pains. Our discussions initially brought on tears of release, followed by laughter and joy as we found new ways to giggle about what had previously injured us.
“Weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”
How often have I repeated this scripture without a clear understanding of its meaning?
For me, the joy came from the confession. The Bible also states that when we “confess our sins; God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Please know, that the sin has already been forgiven, so the confession is not really to forgive the sin, but to provide us with absolution from the guilt we often feel within ourselves. Confession further purifies the mind from the enemy’s thoughts of condemnation.
For example: Let’s say, in your previous life you were a person who liked to drink. As a result of too many drinks, you engaged in some very embarrassing, dangerous, and/or illicit acts. You have since been sober for 5 years, but your friends constantly find new ways to report your past sins to people you didn’t really want to have that information.
What do you do?
I have found that when I talk about myself, I leave no room for people to talk about me. People cannot whisper in the shadows what I have already shouted from the rooftops.
What were once embarrassing occasions now become opportunities for testimony!
“People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn away from them, they will receive mercy.”-Proverbs 28:13 (NLV)
When my husband and I were going through the trial of infertility, we spoke to no one about the secret shame we felt regarding our inability to conceive. For years we walked behind a veil of sadness and shame. We masked the shame well, but inside we were bound and broken. But when we began to confess our feelings and share the struggle, we realized that there was a whole community of wounded people who felt the same way we did, and who also had no one to talk with about their feelings.
As we spoke to one another and opened up our hearts, we were all emotionally and mentally healed in the process, and many were physically healed as well. The discussion prompted all of us to take stock of our physical conditions and seek the medical treatment we didn’t know was available to us.
“You cannot make me feel ashamed for what I have chosen to embrace.”
BUT suppose it’s not a sin that bothers you, but rather something you consider being a frailty. Before we had children we had one of the cleanest houses in North America! Friends always commented on how neat and orderly our house was. Three children within two years later, and it’s a whole different story. While my house is not nasty, it is often cluttered and unkempt.
These same friends, who have been my rock, never fail to remind me of how clean our house was before we had children. Initially their comments bothered me, and made me feel inadequate. Then one day I realized that our house wasn’t messy because we were slobs, it was messy because our values had changed. My husband and I value happy, healthy, mannerable, and well adjusted children, and our house reflects that.
It reflects that I, as a stay-at-home mother, have chosen to embrace my messiness; because for me toys on the floor means my kids play happily, books strewn over the table means my kids are learning well, and dirty dishes in the sink means my kids have plenty of food and are eating properly prepared meals. Today, thanks to another friend who understands, there is now a sign over my door that reads, “My house was clean last week. Sorry you missed it!”
Now when people comment on the condition of my house I tell them thank you for the kindest compliment you could ever give. No one can make me feel ashamed for what I have chosen to embrace.
So today, as you go forth worried over your sins, concerned about your faults, or overly troubled regarding your frailties; I ask that you consider all of your challenges as an opportunity to bring glory to God, bring about your own healing, and provide therapy to others who are being tested by many of the same problems.
Now I understand that there are some things you absolutely cannot talk about with everyone. And there are things you can talk about with everyone, but just not right now. For those issues, I urge you to find a support group and prayerfully consider seeking a compassionate and encouraging network of close friends who will partner with you in prayer and even fasting if that is what it takes to break the chains that are keeping you bound.
Once you have been healed, seek God regarding how, when, and in what manner your confessions to others outside of that network will take place.
It might be on the bus, the church pew, or a prison cell, but God is able to take what once was a source of shame and pain for you, and make it a starting place of witness.
I challenge you today to embrace your shame, for in doing so; you will erase your shame and cover a multitude of sins.