From Shame to Forgiveness

Shame.photo © 2011 Casey Muir-Taylor | more info (via: Wylio)
I had a hair appointment this week, which is always an interesting experience. My stylist helps me be a better version of myself, as well as sharing her views on life. This week, the subject of confession, repentance, and forgiveness came up. She is uncomfortable with the idea that all are required to list sins to a person in order to find forgiveness. I have to agree with her there. When we fall short, when we choose to separate ourselves from God’s will for us, when we are hurtful, when we give into the lowest of our human desires, when we sin, then we feel shame. Many of us do not want to then have to share those actions with others. We feel bad about who we are and what we have done. Why would we talk about that? (Actually, many of us find it helpful to talk about things, but the difference for my hairdresser is the idea that sharing these things is a requirement.) Janice Gaunt, on her blog at blog.janicegaunt.com, says that: Shame is an emotion that tells you that your inner self is not OK. It tells you that you are unworthy, dishonorable, inadequate and disgraceful. Shame is different from guilt in that guilt is about your behavior while shame is about your essence as a human being.

Janice’s entire post, hello my name is shame, points to a way of moving from being stuck in shame for what we have done to a more positive way of living, but I don’t believe that is possible on our own. Far too often we hold on to the memory of poor choices, and we know that we have the ability to make those choices again. We know just how low we can sink.

Forgiving ourselves is necessary to move forward, but we first need to know that someone else forgives us. We need to know that God forgives us. This is one of the things we find in being a part of a faith community. We can hear from others, often the pastor, that we are forgiven by God. We are restored to wholeness. Jesus Christ offers us redemption because he was willing to pay for our sins. He took on our shame so that we can be restored to wholeness. This is a gift from God, and we are asked to accept this gift of forgiveness.

We often confront our sin, guilt, and shame, but in the gathered community of believers, we find forgiveness, redemption, and new life. I hope that these are a part of our Easter experience and your life experience this week and always.

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