Let's face it - at one point or another in our lives, we've all done something to cause us to feel shame. We're sinners. Sometimes our sins are seemingly small and we're able to push past them quickly (or not even recognize them). But there are those times when we do something that brings us to our knees.
Maybe we lied about our best friend. Maybe we cheated on our significant other. Maybe we beat someone up, or even killed someone. Maybe we ignored the homeless hungry family sitting on the street corner. The list goes on.
But whatever it was we did, we're suddenly hit with overwhelming guilt and shame. We feel like the most horrible person on the planet. We hate ourselves. We don't believe we are worthy of love or forgiveness - from the person we hurt, and especially not from God.
There are even times this shame hits us over things we have no control over. Children who are sexually or physically abused often feel shame - as if they should have been able to stop the person. This is especially true of sexual abuse survivors. The same is true of those who've been raped. They believe they did something to cause it, or should have at least been able to stop it.
Now while these are two completely separate sets of scenarios - one caused by our own sinfulness, the other by the sinfulness of others - they result in the same feelings of shame. The same feelings of unworthiness. The same feeling of separation from God... and believing we should be separated from God.
We don't want to accept that by the unending grace of God, we have already been forgiven. We don't believe we deserve that forgiveness and have a difficult time accepting it.
The danger in this is that it keeps us from learning from that experience and moving forward in Christ's love. It keeps us from working harder at keeping from sin. If we're already worthless, why bother trying anymore. It leads us down a dark and scary road of depression and more sin. And it keeps us from doing God's will.
Today's Lenten sacrifice:
Let go of shame.
Allow yourself to feel the grace of God wash over you. Allow yourself to use that grace as a guiding light.
May the grace of God continue to wash over you today and always, leading you from the darkness of shame and into the light of Christ's love and forgiveness, so that you can be Christ's love and light for others.