Shedding the Weight of Shame

Ann Spangler
Ann Spangler

An image of a smiling woman with her arms lifted above her head.

Some people have a problem with the concept of God’s holiness because they feel worthless. Talking about how holy and perfect God is makes them want to hide because they are painfully aware of their own failings.

Some of us are so beaten down by life that we walk with shoulders hunched, head bowed. But most of us aren’t that obvious. We’re good at hiding, masters in the art of pretending. But no matter how well we dress or how confident we look, we still can’t shake the shame we feel.

Where does all that shame come from? From mean kids we knew growing up, from abusive adults, from cultural messages that tell us we’re stupid, awkward, weak—from a thousand different sources over the course of our lives. And then there’s Satan, who is always eager to reinforce a hurtful message. Like sponges, we absorb these negative ideas about ourselves until they define who we are.

At other times our shame comes from things we’ve done. We may have cheated or lied or stolen or slept around. We may be addicted to drugs, alcohol, or pornography. Or we may be abusive, angry, or deceitful. We want to change but we don’t know how.

Remember the story of the leper in Scripture? Lepers in ancient times had to call out “Unclean, unclean” wherever they went to give others time to distance themselves (Leviticus 13:45). But listen to what happened when Jesus encountered a leper, an outcast who begged for his cleansing touch. Jesus simply stretched out his hand, touched the man who no one else would touch, and healed him. (Matthew 8:2)

When we are mired in sin or shame we tend to feel like an outcast—as though we’re not fit for God’s company. But for those who believe in him, God’s holiness, rather than our weakness is what will define the relationship. Indeed his holiness is contagious, working its way into our lives the more we make it our aim to follow him.

The next time you feel incapable of coming into the presence of a holy God, come humbly, asking him to touch and transform you, for he is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. Nobody loves you like he does.

 
Originally published March 13, 2019.

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