Thursday, August 25, 2016

Choosing not to Hide

Stepping into the light, she blinked as her eyes adjusted from the darkness. She's spent so much time in the darkness she wasn't used to all this light.

Everyone had told her it would be good, but right now, she just felt vulnerable and exposed. Like all her flaws and scars were on display for everyone to see if they looked her way.

What she didn't realize was that those things she saw as flaws and scars were part of what made her beautiful. They had been healed and forgiven. They were still a part of her; they would always be. But, they were no longer something to be hidden in shame. They had become stories of God's grace, mercy, and love in her life.

The choice was now hers about what she would do with them. She could continue to hide them and never fully realize what God had done. Staying in the dark, where she felt safe . . . but was also lonely.

Or, she could step into the light and let them be seen by others. Let others hear her story of God's redemption in her life. Finding community and experiencing the full power of God's healing of her wounds and brokenness.

I wonder how often we find ourselves in this place. This place where we have a choice to make. We can either take our scars and brokenness and go back into hiding with them. Or, we can choose to let others see them and we allow God to transform our stories of brokenness into stories of redemption and restoration.

The choice is always ours. What choice will you make?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Problem with Using Shame

Do not let me be put to shame

This phrase, or a variation of it, is repeated over and over in the Psalms.

     "I trust in You;
          do not let be put to shame." (Psalm 25:2)

     "Guard my life and rescue me;
          do not let me be put to shame." (Psalm 25:20)

     "In You, Lord, I have taken refuge;
          let me never be put to shame;
          deliver me in Your righteousness." (Psalm 31:1)

     "Let me not be put to shame, Lord,
          for I have cried out to You." (Psalm 31:17)

Those are just a few of the uses of it, I've noticed. The more times I've read it recently, the more I've been thinking about it.

Why this constant cry? What is the importance of it?

It starts with defining shame. We have to know what it is to know why it's so important. The best definition of shame I've found comes from Brene Brown:
"I define shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging - something we've experienced, done, or failed to do that makes us unworthy of connection." (

We live in a society where shame too often keeps us quiet, and where it is used as a way to attempt to change someone's behaviour.

When we're ashamed of something, we feel isolated, alone, disconnected, fearful of someone finding out. Shame is our enemy, Satan's, specialty.

Shame isn't something God uses. The psalmist could confidently pray for God not to let him be put to shame because he knew it wasn't from God. The psalmist was praying for protection against the schemes of our enemy.

I've been thinking about why God never uses shame and I've realized it's because shame attacks our identity. Shame attempts to label us based on "something we've experienced, done, or failed to do," to use Brene Brown's definition. It tells us we are wrong as people, puts down who God created us to be.

God doesn't label us by our past. He doesn't label us by our sin. He's made us His children and He wants us to identify ourselves this way. God sees us the way we were meant to be - the way can be because of Jesus' victory through the cross. He desires for us to live that, so He's not going to use shame to label us and attack our identity.

When the psalmist prays to not be put to shame, he's seeking protection from the attacks of the enemy. In the psalms where these words are used, the psalmist also talks about trusting God and finding refuge in Him. That's our best defense against the shaming tactics of the enemy.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

What should Waiting for God look Like?

     "In the morning, Lord, You hear my voice;
          in the morning I lay my requests before You
          and wait expectantly."
                                                -Psalm 5:3

When I read this verse recently I was struck by two words put together that I don't know if we put together often enough:


The psalmist is talking about waiting for God's answer to requests brought before Him in prayer.

But, it doesn't strike me as waiting in the way we often think of waiting. Waiting for God often seem to mean praying about something and then doing nothing until we hear an answer. We get so afraid of not hearing the answer that we just sit there.

Sometimes that may be the kind of waiting we have to do, the kind of waiting God asks for that time. But, I think far too often we engage in this passive type of waiting, rather than waiting expectantly. And in doing so, we actually miss God's answer and all that He wants to teach us in the waiting.

So, what does it look like to wait expectantly for God's answer?

Think about what waiting for guest to arrive looks like, or waiting for an event. Unless we've finished all the preparations we're not sitting around doing nothing. We're doing the things we need to do to be prepared.

How strange would it be if we had invited someone over and we sat, waiting until they arrived to do any of the preparations? Instead of being ready when they arrived, we began running around getting everything ready once they arrive? I think we can all agree this doesn't seem logical. Except, we do exactly that all the time.

But, what would happen if we prepared for God's answer to our prayers, rather than sitting around doing nothing? What would it look like if in our waiting expectantly, we did what we already knew to do in the situation? Even just continuing to walk forward, seeking God, and doing all He has already given us to do. To make sure we're in the position where we can hear the answer God has to our request and learn what He has for us to learn in the waiting.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Honest Prayers

What do your prayers usually look like?

Are they filled with the "right" words and phrases? Talking about only part of what is going on and how you're feeling - the acceptable part?

Or are they honest about everything? Thoughts, feelings? Cries of your heart in the midst of the good and the bad in life?

For a lot of my life I would say my prayers were very much along the lines of trying to make them sound right. Somewhere along the way, I got it in my head that only some things were acceptable to pray about. I have no idea where that came from, but it made my prayers feel inauthentic and I didn't really have much use for it sometimes.

It also made the Scripture passages that talk about praying continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17) seem pretty much impossible. If I can only pray about certain things or in a certain way, then a lot of the time I have nothing to pray about.

But, the truth is we can pray about anything. We can pray about everything. Nothing going on in our lives or that we're thinking or feeling is hidden from God anyways (Hebrews 4:13), so not praying about it doesn't make any sense. If God knows about it anyways, why would I think it's off limits for prayer?

As I've realized that there isn't a list of what's "right" for prayer and what's not, I've realized that praying continually isn't impossible after all. I can talk to God about all of what goes on in my day or what I think about. It easily becomes a daily thing when everything is acceptable.

And living that way changes things. In the middle of a situation that is hard, it keeps me from taking on things that aren't mine to carry in the first place. It gives hope, even when from an earthly perspective, it seems like there is none. I've been living this reality lately.

What do your prayers usually look like?