Isaiah said “We are all an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags” (64:6, NKJV).
If our righteousness is like filthy rags to God, imagine what our brokenness looks like!
Some time ago, some sins of my past surfaced. And with that, I chose to be honest about current issues that I continued to deal with. Those past failures and current battles that I had worked my whole life to keep under wraps, the sins that I’d been determined to carry to my grave, the filthiest of my filthy rags, from which was woven this thick blanket of shame and regret – suddenly it was all out there, in the open. It was the thing that I’d had waking nightmares about.
Inwardly, the shame and guilt that had been lurking under the surface for decades was exposed. It was painful and humiliating. Outwardly, people I cared about were hurt and felt betrayed, which was also very painful. I deeply regretted (and still do) the pain I caused them.
But in the midst of all of that, one thing I discovered was many people who reacted like Jesus – with grace and truth and Gospel-based compassion. I didn’t deserve it. I never qualified for it. I certainly wasn’t worthy of it. But they put on Christ and showed it to me anyway. I am ever grateful to them because it was because of those people that I am celebrating a life I thought was over and a freedom in Christ I never thought attainable.
God is faithful indeed. And His people are marvelous instruments of His faithfulness.
One of the fundamental truths I learned through that experience is this: No matter how ugly that thing that you have done or are currently struggling with, as long as you are dealing with it, it is nothing to be ashamed of! Don’t let the Enemy, or those he has manipulated to speak for him, convince you that you are too far gone, that you can’t be whole or useful. Don’t let him convince you that you have to live imprisoned behind your shame and guilt; or that the cycle you appear to be stuck in, or the temptation you can’t seem to shake, is your lot in life and you can’t be anything else.
God offers freedom from those things. Unmitigated, unconditional, Spirit-empowered, chain-shattering freedom!
To be clear: this does not mean you can keep on indulging ungodly patterns or habits. Dealing with it means turning away from it and pressing into Christ for your strength (more on this in a later post).
So, step one is addressing the ugliness in your life, whatever it may be, however repulsive it may seem. Then, step two is remembering that Jesus paid for that too, and as a result if you are doing something about it, you need not be ashamed of it. That’s freedom!
In the third and final installment of this series, I will bring some pointed recommendations for dealing with the ugly, whatever that is on your particular battlefield. Stay tuned…