In high school I was obsessed with punk rock musicâ€”well, mostly I was obsessed with the boys that I had crushes on who liked punk rock music.
When I was seventeen, my friend and I drove two hours away to the big city of Tulsa
to see the Vans Warped Tour. I loved the music but was mesmerized by the people in the crowd. Women of all ages, shapes, sizes, both saggy and perky, were flashing the bands, and the men in the audience were goofy-stricken by it. I found myself jealous of the attention these free-boobing women were receiving.
Twenty years later and I am still a little jealous of other women, especially as I deal with aging. I recently broke down and bought eye-lifting cream. It didnâ€™t workâ€”I got an eye infection.
A couple of weeks ago I had a conversation with a woman who was describing the shame and jealousy she felt as a new mom.
â€œEveryone around me just adored motherhood and I didnâ€™t. I was jealous of those moms.
I remember reading an article in Parents
magazine about a woman who lost all her baby weight doing lunges while vacuuming.â€
: â€œAre you serious?â€
: â€œYes. I called my older sister crying about it and she gave me the best mothering advice Iâ€™ve ever received.â€
: â€œWhat did she say?â€
: â€œStart reading People
The word shame derives from to cover. Covering oneself, literally or figuratively, is a natural expression of shame, just as Eve, after eating the apple felt ashamed and hid.
â€œMesmerized by the enticement of power, Eve sank her teeth into the forbidden fruit, making the most bitter mistake of her life which resulted in her being the one to have to pack up and leave paradise forever. Her sin was rebellion against her Creator, but the underlying tragedy was that she gave away her gift of authority to the crafty serpent.â€
– Shannon Ethridge, Every Womanâ€™s Battle
Eve believed that God was withholding something from her and with that first bite of apple, she gave away her power, letting sin into the world and allowing shame to rule her heart. The feeling of shame is a natural consequence of sin. Anytime we â€œcoverâ€ by aiming for perfection instead of transformation, or anytime we speak self-hatred rather than self-grace, we give shame authority.
In Isaiah 54 God addresses his people as if speaking to a woman:
â€œSing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child, burst into song, shout for joyâ€¦ Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace, you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. For your Maker is your husband- the Lord Almighty is his name- the Holy One of Israelis your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.â€â€”
Isaiah 54: 1, 4-5
In the ancient world, a woman unable to bear children was considered incapable of serving her function as a wife and therefore her husband was free to abandon her. Can you imagine the devastation of these women? Already heartbroken over their infertility, their miscarriages, their pre-term labor and their husbands had the legal right to walk out. These women must have believed they were being punished by God.
Yet in Isaiah 54 God invokes these women to describe the tenacity and tenderness of His love. He calls himself a husband who returns rather than abandons, a husband who erases our shame and humiliation.
Almost a year ago our best friends, who struggled for years with secondary infertility, lost their precious baby boy Hudson David after 36 hours of life. For the past year, my friendâ€™s search has been to find beauty in the broken places. She has long-suffered while remaining faithful to God. She has celebrated with those of us who have had children along the way and mourned with those of us whoâ€™ve experienced loss. She has done it all without realizing that she is beauty in the brokenâ€”a living picture of Isaiah 54. And in the midst of her grief, they discovered she was unexpectedly pregnant again with a healthy baby boy.
In Galatians 4, Paul refers to Isaiah 54 when he says that we are not â€œchildren of a slave woman, but children of the free woman.â€ In other words, in Jesus we are no longer afraid, ashamed, disgraced, or humiliated because He is our faithful and doting husband. We can find beauty in the wrinkly places.
We have all eaten the sin apple and experienced the bitter aftertaste. We savored its sweetness as juice dribbled down our chins and stained our shirts, but we arenâ€™t stuck holding that apple. Itâ€™s not a pig-on-spit-gag binding us.
Whatever areas of shame you might be dealing withâ€”whether it your still-secret love of punk rock music, the effects of aging, or your devastating loss of a dreamâ€”Jesus came to show you compassion. He untied the bind. He took the apple out of your tight grip, shined it up with his shirt sleeve and ate. He chewed it up and spit it out. He wiped off your chin and cleaned up your shirt.
It is time to stop living like you are still holding the apple.
It is gone.
In its place is the hand of the One who loves youâ€”all of your broken partsâ€”wildly, shamelessly.
Next Week- Confidence vs. Shamelessness