Hello my friends! New year, new blog post, am I right? Let’s talk about how my last two new years resolutions have been to blog more… and let’s talk about the fact that I’ve written three posts in the last year. Yikes. Now let’s stop talking about that and pretend it isn’t true because this girl is serious about blogging now. That’s right, I’ve changed my URL, I’ve changed my logo, and I’ve cleaned up my act.
New year, new me, right guys?
That’s what I want to talk about with you lovely men and women. I want to talk about this new year, new me tagline that is motivating millions. Let me just say I am so for new beginnings. I think setting goals and re-comitting yourself to something is a great thing, and I know so many people are so good at sticking to new years resolutions. I, however, am not one of those people. Am I the only one who feels completely defeated before my list is even made? Am I the only one who feels completely defeated by lists in general? Now hear me out, I am the most disorganized person I know and make lists for absolutely everything. If I don’t write it down, it’s absolutely not going to happen. Lists are friends, not food. But there’s something about writing out a list of things that I want to change about myself… writing out a list of things I wish I did better… there’s something about it that just makes me feel discouraged. I look at my list, and instead of thinking, this year is going to be so good, I think, wow, I wonder why in my 19 years of living I haven’t been able to keep my room clean or manage to consistently eat healthy or blah blah blah. And yes, I need to give myself a break, but I feel like someone out there has to know how I feel.
Still, there’s something so beautiful about a new beginning. There’s something so freeing and refreshing in the thought of a clean slate. Maybe you’ve not done as well as you’d hoped in 2016, but this year is going to be different. This year is going to be better. You’re going to do better. I think the reason why we feel so hopeful in the new year is the same reason we feel so hopeful in the promise of a new life in Christ. But by the same token, I think the reason why I feel so hopeless looking at my list is the same reason we feel so unworthy and unable to let go of the shame we’ve carried for so long and give it to Jesus. We feel like we can’t do better. We feel like if we try, we’ll fail. So we keep carrying it. I think I can’t accomplish my New Years Resolutions because I can’t let go of the thought I’m going to fail like I have so many times before. And I think accepting Jesus’ forgiveness and truly living in it is only possible if we let go of our shame and forgive ourselves for our past mistakes.
You may be thinking that’s a stretch, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot the last couple of days. It’s so hard for me to look at a list of things I want to do right, because I keep thinking about that list in terms of what I’ve done wrong. I mentally make a list of every time I mess up, and even when I commit to myself that I am going to do better, a little voice inside my head reminds me every time that I’m lying. A little voice that reminds me I’m never going to be good enough.
But time and time again Jesus has shown me that He does not keep a list. He isn’t keeping score or waiting for us to mess up again. He doesn’t look at us and think about our shortcomings, He looks at us and thinks about how much He desperately, desperately loves us.** That’s forgiveness. But for some reason looking in the mirror and loving myself instead of seeing my mistakes is really, really hard for me. I never thought that in order to really receive the grace of God and live in the life He wants for us, we have to be able to let go of our own shame.
I think best in pictures, so I’m going to try to explain it with one. You’re sitting in a jail cell. Solitary confinement. It’s dirty and gross and wet and cold, and your hands are bound behind you. You’re in a dark cage and the only color you know exists is grey. You hear a voice, you see a face… you’re confused but you’re happy and you don’t know why but this voice and this face are coming towards you. He isn’t grey, and He isn’t angry. He’s looking at you and He loves you. He smiles like he doesn’t know you’re a criminal and says, “Do you want me to unlock the door?” You stare for a while, half of you wondering if this is really happening and half of you overflowing with an emotion you’ve never felt before: hope. So you nod, and the door unlocks. The man unbinds your hands and walks out of the cell and he tells you to follow him. He stands at the door and looks at you with the same face of love that doesn’t see your ugliness and wickedness and nakedness but looks at you like you are the only thing that matters in the whole world. But you don’t move. You can’t. You’re afraid of what will happen. Your hands stay behind you, unbound but bound all the same and your feet aren’t moving. They can’t. You look at this man and you’re so confused, but he just keeps looking at you with a love you can’t imagine and you can’t explain. You feel it, and you know he forgives you. But you can’t walk out of the jail cell. The door is wide open, but your feet won’t move. You’re so ashamed. You’re so afraid that you’re going to end up back in this jail cell. You stare at this man and he waits for you, and He is always there waiting for you, and you know He wants you. But you can’t move. You’re stuck still in time, so grateful for this man but so ashamed of what you’ve done that you can’t free yourself.
That is shame.
Shame is a paralyzing, hopeless weight that keeps you from moving by reminding you that you deserve to be in chains. You deserve to be alone.
But the beauty of grace is that we don’t get what we deserve.
If we would only see ourselves the way that God sees us, we could walk right out of that jail cell. We could follow Him into this beautiful life where we don’t have to be afraid anymore. We don’t have to be ashamed anymore.***
You don’t have to be ashamed anymore. Do you realize that you are made new every single day?* Do you realize that you were created for so much more than a jail cell? Do you realize that the creator of the entire universe would send his son to die so that you can live all over again if it were only you that needed Him? Just so you could go free. You are more precious than anything to the creator of everything. You do not have to carry this around anymore. You do not have to, because your chains are gone and the door is open. All you have to do is walk.
I love you. Thank you for reading this.
And I love hearing your thoughts, so if you read this and want to share whatever you want to share with me, please by all means I would love for you to. I also put some references down below pertaining to specific parts of this entry if you want to read about these things for yourself! You’re not alone, and you are so incredibly loved and worth it.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”