When I was about eight years old my cousins came to visit us in Texas. We had moved from Ohio about a year before their visit, and I was so excited to see them. I had so many plans! I wanted to show them my favorite spots for catching lizards, take them riding on our hike and bike trail, go hunting for crayfish in the stream that ran along the edge of our neighborhood, swimming at the pool…but something happened during their visit that crushed my plans. I don’t remember exactly what happened, but I do remember where I ended up. Hiding in the darkness of my closet.
We were roller skating down my street. I remember that. And I remember my lanky cousin skating with what looked like bricks on the ends of his feet, arms flailing wildly as he tried to keep his balance, skates smacking against the sidewalk. Then something happened. Maybe I said something mean to my cousin. Or maybe he said something mean to me and I cried. That wouldn’t be unheard of since I was so sensitive, and sensitivity wasn’t looked upon as a good character trait. All I remember is that whatever happened made me feel like I wasn’t a good person anymore. I never had a great self esteem, so when the gig was up, it was up. I didn’t feel like I was worthy of hanging around with. I didn’t feel like I was fun or had anything to share. I was ashamed of who I was, so I crawled into my closet and hid in the dark. Plans over.
Isn’t life like that for many of us? Without even realizing exactly what drives us there, we end up hiding in the dark. We feel that whatever we’ve done or whatever has happened to us is just too much. It’s beyond repair. So we start turning out the lights one by one. We stop stepping out, sharing thoughts, opening up. We may carefully craft a bright facade to the outside world, but inside, we’re curled up in the dark, afraid to make a move.
That’s what shame does. It drives us into the dark where unworthiness grows. Shame tells us what kind of person we are. Liar. Cry-baby. Brat. Stupid. There is no hope in shame. There is no feeling of belonging in shame. Shame separates us from the ones we love. Most importantly, shame separates us from God.
God doesn’t want us to live in shame, because he knows when we do, even the best laid plans for joy aren’t going to come to fruition. That’s why he gave us the gift of salvation through the Light of the world, Jesus Christ.
There is no such thing as living life to the fullest when we are living in shame. I know from personal experience, because I’ve been there. And I know you may be there, too. Whether you’ve been a Christian as long as you remember, or you’ve never stepped into a church…the darkness calls us all and we can find we’ve made a home there without even realizing it. If you’re there, come into the Light of God’s grace. There is no room for shame in the Light. The Light drives out all darkness. The Light says, you are free.