“Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us…Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love. We love each other because He loved us first.” -1 John 4:11-12, 18-19
All of us are called to learn. And what is the sign of a good student? One who takes what she has learned and puts it into practice. Most anyone can memorize information and regurgitate it. However, it takes a mature person to learn and be changed.
One of my greatest struggles over the years has been with shame. The thing about shame is that it is a paralyzing thing and an ungodly thing. On the surface it looks like humility; beating ourselves down so that we don’t become too high and mighty. However, shame is not humility at all. Rather, it is a lie from the enemy.
Shame says: “You don’t deserve him. He deserves better.” “She says she forgives you, but what you did was really bad. Punish yourself so that she might know you really are sorry.” And most often shame says, “Hide.”
The truth is, we have all done things we are not proud of, and we all have brokenness. We all have parts of our lives that we would rather keep hidden; areas that make us wonder if anyone could ever accept us because of them.
The amazing thing about Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection is that He took our punishment and offers us healing. However, what does that healing look like? How do we live out grace every day in a world that beats us down? How do we learn to love like Jesus?
It has been a very difficult thing for me to learn to accept God’s love for me. I somehow keep falling into the lie that I have to earn it, and when I fail Him I have to earn it back. It’s shame that keeps me in a hole and says, “Look at what you’ve done! You’re not worthy.” However, I am learning how to walk a different walk.
A child who knows she is loved is free. She is free to dance, to be generous, to laugh, and to forgive. A child who has been beaten slinks back; she runs, and she hides. I look at my life and I ask the question, “Who has been my father?” and I can say that for too long, I have not allowed God to be my father. Choosing Him to be my Daddy means that I choose a different heritage. He loves me, and it should change my life. It should change the downtrodden direction of my eyes to a light-filled and lifted up gaze. Love says, “You fell, but let’s get back up.” Love hugs us and says, “You are perfect, just the way you are.” Love picks us up and says, “I have chosen you, wounds and all. Come share my joy.” Shame has no place. Fear has no place. Only love lives here.
I want to learn how to live in this love. I want to learn how to foster this kind of love amongst my friends and family. Most of all, I want a shame-filled world that surrounds me to see something different in me. I want it to experience freedom through Christ’s love. “They will know we are Christians by our love.” So go love today.