New Year’s Resolutions

I didn’t expect to write another post this year, but I am compelled to sit here and write. I simply can’t get this sentence out of my mind. “Christ came into the world for you — and you came into the world for Him.” Voskamp

Most of us make New Year’s resolutions every year. We contemplate what we would like to do differently in the new year. But this year, I would like to challenge myself and you to bring God into what we decide our resolutions need to be. Maybe we should ask ourselves a few questions before we write down our resolutions. 

“Lord, we came into this world for you. What would You like for us to change in our lives? What lessons do we need to learn? What things do we need to do differently? What do you want us to do with our days? How can we bring glory to You?”  

It is pretty simple when it comes right down to it. Why am I here? Why are you here? Our purpose in life is to display Christ. Our purpose is to glorify Him in what we say and what we do. He wants us to love others and live our days walking with Him. 

How often do we include God in the process of writing down our resolutions? He wants us to include Him in the process. He came down. He came down to this earth for us. He came to give us life. He came to be our Savior. I think we forget the simplicity of it all. 

“This night a battle has been waged and won for you. Love had to come back for you. Love had to get to you. The Love that has been coming for you since the beginning—He slays dragons for you. This is the truest love story of history, and it’s His-Story, and it’s for you. All the other fairy-tale love stories only echo your yearning for this truest, realest one—this one that has its beginning before the beginning of time. This night, you on this visited planet, your rescue is here. You can breathe. Your God extends now on straw. He lays Himself down in your mire. He unfolds Himself in the stench you want to hide, in that mess that is your impossible, in the mucked straw you don’t want anyone to know.” Voskamp

When I read those words, it makes me want to live my days for Him. Look at what He did for us!!! He came down. I can’t get that fact out of my head! And, He not only came down, but He also wants to lay Himself down in our mire! 

Word nerd alert! What does mire mean? 1. a stretch of swampy or boggy ground. 2. a situation or state of difficulty, distress, or embarrassment from which it is hard to extricate oneself.

He wants to get into the things that drag us down. He wants to be with us while we battle the things we want to hide from everyone. I have learned that the only way I am going to get out of the mire, is to grab onto Him for dear life. He is my only rescue! I might try to attach myself to other things, but HE IS THE ONLY WAY OUT! 

If you want to get free from something in the new year, you have to invite Jesus into the stench you want to hide. He wants you to ask for His help. He wants to rescue you, but you have to do your part. 

I know what it is like to be desperate for change. I know what it is like to be stuck in my own sin looking for a way out. I have felt utterly helpless because I couldn’t see how I was going to be able to break free from the bondage in my life. But, I am here to tell you that Jesus came down in the muck and mire of my sin and brought me out!

There isn’t a magical pill you can take. You simply have to be honest with God. No more hiding or lying to yourself or to Him. He knows the truth anyway. That issue or issues in your life aren’t going to go away without inviting Him into them. I have spent many years getting honest with God. I have had so many strongholds that needed to be broken. But God has been right by my side setting me free from the sin that was keeping me in bondage. He got in the mire with me and brought me out. But, I had to do my part. 

We have to be willing to give up what we desperately want to hang onto. A drug addict has to be willing to give up drugs. An alcoholic has to be willing to give up alcohol. A sex addict has to be willing to give up sex. We have to be willing to give up whatever is keeping us bogged down. If you want to be set free, you have to be willing to give it to God. 

I know that there is someone out there that is reading this post and thinking, “I want to change, but I just don’t think I can give up _________.” Let me tell you right now, you can. And the reason why you can is because Jesus came down. He came down for us. And if He can come down and die on that cross for us, then we can give up whatever it is that is controlling our lives. 

I am very passionate about this because I have lived it. I have had to go before the Lord many, many times and lay things down. I have had to ask for His help so I can walk in freedom. I have journal after journal that documents freedom from the sin in my life. I know how hard it is to give things up or give people up. But, what you gain makes the people or the issues in your life lose their importance. And that my friend is pure joy! When you gain more of Christ, there isn’t anything else on this earth that can compete with that!

Philippians 3:8 “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”

There is never a day that I say, “I wish I had that bondage back. I wish I had those people back that were a big part of my problems. I wish I could go back and live in the mire and stench of my sin.” I kind of like living in freedom. Once you taste it, you don’t ever want to go back. And there is freedom to be had for all of us!!!

So this year, when we make our New Year’s resolutions, may we be mindful of Christ and include Him in the process. Ask Him what changes need to be made and seek Him for His wisdom and strength. Call on Him to get into the messes we have made and rescue us from our sin. He is there waiting to help us. That’s why He came down. He came into the world for us and we are in this world for Him!!! 

I am going to end with some verses from Isaiah that I learned when I was taking “Breaking Free” by Beth Moore. These words depict who Jesus is and why He came. 

Isaiah 61:1-3 

“The spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,

     because the Lord has anointed me

     to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

     to proclaim freedom for the captives

     and release from darkness for the prisoners,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor

     and the day of vengeance of our God,

to comfort all who mourn,

     and provide for those who grieve in Zion—

to bestow on them a crown of beauty

     instead of ashes, 

the oil of gladness

     instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise 

     instead of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness, 

     a planting of the Lord

     for the display of his splendor.”

Happy New Year!! May 2022 be a year of freedom for all of us!! 

This is my journey to joy. Until next time…

Unwrapping Christmas

When I was a little girl, I loved getting gifts at Christmas. What child doesn’t? I was one of those kids that loved the challenge of finding the gifts that my mother purchased for me. My poor mom had to find all sorts of interesting places to hide our gifts because I usually found them. I would actually open the wrapped gifts and then rewrap them making her think I hadn’t found them. I know I drove her crazy! 

We actually had some pretty great places to hide gifts in our house and I knew every place there was to hide them. I remember two times my mom was able to outsmart me. One year she hid them in the back of our station wagon and another year she dispersed them at different houses in our neighborhood. That was really sheer genius on her part! 

You can see that I love to search and find things, which explains my love for mysteries. I think I must have read every Nancy Drew book that was ever published when I was growing up. I still love figuring out who the killer is before it is revealed in the book or movie that I am watching. I am a detective in my heart. I love seeking and finding the truth.

For the past 8 years during the month of December, I have been reading “The Greatest Gift” by Ann Voskamp. Below the title of this devotional are these words: “Unwrapping The Full Love Story Of Christmas.”  Notice the word unwrapping. I knew when I saw that word that I was going to be on a journey of discovery. If you haven’t read this devotional, I highly recommend you get it. Every year I read it during the month of December and every year I discover something new!  

The word nerd that I am compelled me to look up the definitions of unwrap and detect.

Unwrap— to remove the wrapping from: DISCLOSE  Unwrap a package; Unwrap evidence in a criminal case. 

Detect— to discover the true character of; to discover or determine the existence, presence, or fact of 

The definition of each word explains so much of who I am. I love to unwrap because I love to discover what is under the wrapping paper. Just look at a child’s face when they unwrap their gifts. There is so much joy when they discover what is under the paper. And that’s how I feel when I unwrap Christmas. I feel so much joy as I uncover the character of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They are fascinating! I like to call them my “holy huddle.” 

This past year has been a tough one. I’m sure most of you feel that way. There have been so many issues to deal with. But, even though I have been hit with so many things, I have pursued my “holy huddle.” They have shown me how to live my days walking in their truth and light. 

Let me share these words from “The Greatest Gift.” “Wise men are only wise because they make their priority the seeking of Christ.” I have read the story of Jesus’ birth so many times. But, it never resonated with me why the wise men were considered wise. They were wise because their priority was finding Jesus. I want my priority to be the same as the wise men.

I have been intrigued by the wise men this Christmas, so I did a little research. Scholars aren’t certain how long it took them to find Jesus or when they finally did. There are many views on this topic. But, what gets me is the fact that they weren’t going to stop until they found Him. They were on a mission to find the Christ child. And just like the wise men, we have our own mission. We have to look for Jesus in our every day lives. He is there. We have to pray for our eyes to be opened to who He is. In Matthew 7:7-8, Jesus says, “when you seek, you will find.”

We have a “holy huddle” to talk to. God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit want us to come to them and ask for their help. We are not alone. We have the absolute best and most powerful force on our side. Even while there is evil all around us, we have a mighty God who is more than able to help us. We must believe in that power. We can never be undone. 

“But out of a family line that looks like a mess, God brings the Messiah. What was intended to harm, God intended all of it for good, and no matter what intends to harm you, God’s arms have you. You can never be undone.” Voskamp

I know it is hard with so much going on to take the time to pause and look for Him. I have found it hard to do when the days are riddled with so much activity. And to be honest, there are times that I get so wrapped up in my daily routine that I forget to look. But, I must keep at it. I must keep looking for Him in my every day life so I can recognize His presence.  

We unwrap Christmas when we take the time to seek, to look, to find, to open the greatest gift ever given. I still feel so much joy when I discover something new about my “holy huddle.” I feel like that little girl who found the gifts that my mother hid from me. When I learn something new or see God at work around me, I get so excited! I call those moments my “AHA moments!”

Whenever God uncovers a mystery for me, I am blown away. The reason why is because my “holy huddle” is taking the time to show me what I have been seeking. The fact that they care enough to impart truth to me completely amazes me. 

“God always sees—and He will always see to it. And He will be seen. God gives God. That is the gift God always ultimately gives. Because nothing is greater and we have no greater need, God gives God. God gives God, and we only need to slow long enough to unwrap the Greatest Gift with our time: time in His word, time in His presence, time at His feet.” Voskamp

Isn’t that beautiful? God gives God. We only need to take the time to be with Him. His presence is the present that we seek. All those years of me looking and finding those gifts don’t even compare to the joy I get from being in His presence and having my “AHA moments!” I like to think that the wise men felt the same way when they finally reached their destination; when they finally found the Savior of the world. Oh what joy they must have felt to see Him after their long journey!

And that is what we are on—a long journey on this earth. Some days seem longer than others. This year feels like 10 years. But what are we going to do while we are here? What are we going to do with our time? Where are we going to look for our answers? Those are questions we need to ask ourselves. A new year is coming. How are you going to spend your days? 

I am still going to seek. I am going to unwrap every day as if it were Christmas. I am going to spend time with my “holy huddle” and talk to them and ask them questions and listen for their teaching. I am going to lay down anything that gets in my way. I am going to keep searching so I can detect their involvement in my life.

What are you going to do to unwrap Christmas? It’s never too late to start. We can unwrap truth every single day of the year. We can search and look for God every day we live on this planet. He is here. He wants to be found. Put your Sherlock Holmes hat on, find your magnifying glass and look for Him. He is everywhere.

“He is Immanuel—which means, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23

My journey has been filled with many detours. There have been mountains to climb and valleys  so low I didn’t think I would be able to climb out of. There have been days plodding in the desert and months of strolling on green grass surrounded by blooming flowers. But no matter where I am walking, I am advancing with my “holy huddle.” I am searching for answers. I am listening for truth. I am guided by the biggest magnifying glass ever created in the universe. All I have to do is put on my detective hat, grab that magnifying glass, and get ready to find the amazing truth that comes from the greatest huddle ever assembled. My prayer for myself and for you is, “May we be like the wise men and make our priority the seeking of Christ.” Voskamp

Merry Christmas everyone!!! I pray you will have a Christmas that is filled with so much joy!!! Until next time….


Lay It Down

We are constantly laying things down every day. We lay down our cell phones, our cups of coffee or a book we’ve been reading. We go through this mindless process every single day. But, the second we are faced with laying down people or circumstances in our lives, the struggle in our mind begins.

There is a powerful story in the Bible that depicts what it looks like to lay someone down. It’s the story of Abraham and Isaac. If you aren’t familiar with the story, I encourage you to read Genesis 22:1-19 in your Bible. Abraham and his wife Sarah prayed and waited for a child for 25 years. They were very old when Isaac was born. You can imagine how much Isaac meant to them. He was the answer to their prayers and also the answer to God’s promise to them. One day God asks Abraham to take Isaac to a mountain and sacrifice him on a altar. Abraham obeys God. They go to the mountain. Abraham builds the altar and ties Isaac up to be sacrificed. He gets ready to slay his son and then an angel of the Lord intervenes and tells him to stop. (This is a very short version of the story.)

Lysa TerKeurst writes in her book Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed, “No one understands the concept of offering it all to God better than Abraham…When God commanded Abraham to lay his only son on the altar…I am sure Abraham fully expected to plunge the dagger through Isaac. It would be an end…the death of a dream. Yet, Abraham was willing to give up the son he loved to the God who loved him more, and God blessed him…Abraham walked away having experienced God in a way few ever do. God wants to know if we’re willing to give up what we love to Him who loves us more. He desires for us to open our fists and trust Him with absolutely everything.”

Look back at the part that says, “God wants to know if we’re wiling to give up what we love to Him who loves us more. He desires for us to open our fists and trust Him with absolutely everything.” All of us have people we love in our lives. But, what I think we need to realize is the fact that no matter how much we love our people, God loves us more! Take a minute and let that soak in. God loves us more than we love our spouse, our children, our parents, our friends, our families and our special someone. 

Abraham waited a very long time for Isaac. I know Abraham and his wife Sarah deeply loved him. Of course we don’t know what Abraham was thinking when God asked him to sacrifice his son and we don’t know what his internal struggle was, but we do know that Abraham was obedient. He knew God loved him. He knew God was faithful and he trusted Him. He knew God wouldn’t ask him to do something that was wrong. I believe this was a test to see how much Abraham trusted God and also how willing Abraham was to give up someone he dearly loved. 

As smart as I might think I am, there is someone who is much smarter than me. God has a much better plan than I could ever have. His way is far better than mine. And lately, He has been asking me to come before Him and lay some of my hopes, my dreams, my desires and my relationships down. He wants me to lay them on the altar as a sacrifice to Him. 

Let me share a few words from Carol Kent’s book When I Lay My Isaac Down. “At that moment Abraham relinquished his own desires, dreams, plans, and hopes for Isaac’s future and made the sacrifice an act of worship to the God he trusted with a confidence so strong that even if God allowed his son to die, Abraham knew God could raise him from the dead.”

Can I ask you a few questions? Are you hanging on to someone or something in your life with a tight fist? Do you see someone you love going down the wrong path? Are you wildly waving your hands in the air begging to be heard? Are you filled with anxiety over something in your life that you have lost control over?

May I say, “Welcome to the club!” Let me share some words from Carol Kent. “No one I know has been exempt from “faith-tests.” Whether these tests feel brutally incomprehensible, like Abraham’s, or are simply “par for the course” of life as a follower of God, they seem to have at least one thing in common: letting go of control. We get to choose how we will go about this excruciating process. Will we honor God by continuing to love and trust Him regardless of our circumstances, or will we insist on trying to direct the outcome?”

Oh how the struggle is real over “letting go” or “trying to direct the outcome.” I like to think that God needs my help, so I interject my will or my thoughts or my way. Oh brother! Like the God of the Universe needs my help. How silly of me to think that! But, that is what I do. I am learning that I have to daily lay down that person or that issue before God. In my mind, I have to hand it over to Him and ask that His will be done. 

I don’t want to be a tight-fisted woman and hang onto things that aren’t mine to control. It makes me miserable. I want to open up my fist and remember how much God loves me. He loves me more than that person or circumstance that I am hanging onto for dear life. His outcome is far better than mine could ever be. 

I have experienced a lot of loss in my life. I know that is why I tend to hang on so tightly. And, I am sure there are a lot of you that feel that way too. It’s hard to lose people, dreams, desires and plans that you have. Let me share a few verses with you. 

Philippians  3:8-9 “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him.”

I am beginning to realize that I have gained more of Christ through my losses. With each loss, I have gained more knowledge and more intimacy with my Savior. Even though losing is painful, I am realizing that I gain so much more. I have gained intimacy with Christ. You can’t put a price on that!!

Look, it hasn’t been easy for me to get me to this point. It has taken some pretty difficult situations to get me to lay my Isaac’s down. I have been a tight fisted woman! But, I realize I have a choice to make. Do I keep stewing over everything, trying to make things work out, or do I sit down before the Lord and hand each person and situation over to Him? 

Relinquishment is a poignant word. It means “to let go of, to cease to hold in the hand.” It means giving up my rights to control the person, dream, expectation, or preferred outcome of the object of my concern… When we release our grasp, our relinquishment puts a stop to our manipulation of other people and releases the Holy Spirit to do the supernatural through the power of prayer. It’s an act of trusting God when we cannot envision a positive outcome. But in the end, its the only thing that works.” Carol Kent

So, my friends, I am choosing to relinquish my grasp. I am choosing to lay it all down before the Lord, so the Holy Spirit can be released. He is the only One who has the power to change me and the people that I love or the circumstances I am facing. I want to do this because I love Him so very much! It is a sacrifice that I am ready to make. 

My prayer for all of you is that you would be able to lay your Isaac’s down. I want you to be able to see God work in your life and in your Isaac’s lives. The Holy Spirit is already working in me through this process and I am sure He will do that for you too!

Regardless of what happens, I am going to trust Him and rely on His love for me. Like Abraham, I want to be obedient to what God asks me to do. Just look at what God did for Abraham because he was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. The blessing from his bloodline was Jesus!! And, God will bless us too!!! May we be able to lay everything down before Him and watch Him work. May we rely on Him to do more than we can even imagine because of His great love for us. Oh, what a joy it is to witness the power of God in our lives and in others. To God be the glory because of the great things He has done and will do in our lives!!!

Until next time my dear friends. This is my journey to joy!!

What Do Your Eyes See?

Have you ever felt like a pinball in a pinball machine? It was a very popular arcade game that I loved to play when I was younger. Do you feel like a pinball being tossed back and forth? Are you wondering when the back and forth circumstances of your life are going to stop? Do you wonder when you are going to get a break from all the things coming at you? Are you ready for it to be over? Well my friends, let me share with you what I have been learning. It is helping me live in the back and forth of my life. I pray what I am learning will help you while you are being tossed around. 

When you are playing pinball, you are trying to keep the balls from reaching the bottom so you can score points. You want to win as many points as you can before the ball goes down the hole at the bottom of the machine. Your eyes have to be focused on the balls. If you take your eyes off them, they will fall. 

Proverbs 4:25 “Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.”

I am reminded that it matters where my eyes are focused in my daily life. When I focus on things happening around me, I panic and fear takes over. We are in trouble in this world right now. There is no denying it. Everywhere you turn there is a problem or a disaster. You can’t escape it. In order to fight the fear and panic, I have to focus on God and His truth more than I ever have in my life. I can’t allow what is happening around me to dictate my life. When I focus on God, I can have the assurance that He is in control and He is working and fighting for me in the midst of the storms raging around me.

I have spent most of my life hoping people or my circumstances would change. You can imagine how utterly disappointed I have been because of where I placed my hope. I thought, “If only so and so would quit doing that, or if only that person would see me and care enough about me to change.”

This morning, I was thinking about a problem that has me pretty discouraged. This question popped in my mind. “Laurie, what are you placing your hope in?” I knew what my answer was. I was placing my hope in people and circumstances changing instead of my hope being placed on my Savior and my Lord. 

I know that most of us want things to change in this world. We want our country to get back to normal. (Whatever that is!) We want diseases to end. We want marriages to be put back together. We want people to love one another and quit hating. We want nations to quit warring and fighting to cease. We want hunger to end. All of us want something to change, but I can’t place my hope on that happening. I can pray for those things to happen, but my hope has to be on God and His word.

Isaiah 40:31 “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

My life has been filled with a lot of things that have scared the crap out of me. It is so easy for me to panic! This world is a scary place right now. Lots of evil things are happening. But, I have a choice to make; we all do. Are we going to let what is happening around us control us? Are we going to base our happiness or sanity on people changing or the world changing?

If we base our happiness on people or circumstances changing, then we are going to be very disappointed and maybe even devastated. I think that is why so many people are struggling right now. We have based our happiness on the wrong things. And when we base our happiness on the wrong things and become devastated, we lose our hope.

It has taken me a very long time to understand the difference between placing my hope in God and placing my hope in God to change things. I have to be okay, even if He doesn’t change things. Do you see the difference? Let me show you an example of this in the Bible. 

Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane waiting for the soldiers to come and get Him. He knew what was coming. He was praying to His Father and said these very important words.

Matthew 26:39 “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will but as you will.” He says it again in verse 42. “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

This teaching is life changing for all of us. Jesus was in agony. He knew what was coming. He was feeling every human emotion you can feel. He even sweat drops of blood!!! Jesus prayed for his death to be taken away, but prayed “your will be done.” Those four words showed how much He boldly trusted God and His plan.

I have been challenged lately by those words. There are situations in my life right now that I desperately want to see changed. For goodness sakes, I want the world to change. So, as I lay my requests before God, I am adding, “But your will be done.” It is very freeing to add those words to my prayers, because now my hope is for God’s will to be done. When you pray that way, you are going from what you see to what you can’t see because you are trusting God.

Oh, I have so much to say to you because I have spent most of my life basing my hope on what I am seeing or not seeing happen. There is so much going on in the spiritual realm right now. God is working. God is fighting. God is moving. We might not be able to see it, but it is happening. He is going to war for us.

Proverbs 15:3 “The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

2 Corinthians 4:18 “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Romans 12:2 tells us that God’s will is good, pleasing and perfect. So, why wouldn’t we want that? I know that His way is far better than mine. I might not understand why He does things the way He does, but He knows things I don’t know and He sees things I can’t see.

His ways are definitely not my ways, but look at what He did with Jesus’ death. He made His death a way for us to be with Him. It definitely didn’t look good at the time, but boy oh boy, his death turned out to be the biggest blessing for all of mankind 

I am sharing this because life is hard right now. I look around and see so many things happening to others and to me. I have to quit looking around at what I see and fix my eyes on the One who stands before me. I want to praise Him for what He is doing and what He will do in my life.

Let me end by sharing something Lysa Terkeurst wrote about David in the Bible.

“David’s praise wasn’t in vain. It steadied his heart. And his painful circumstances weren’t wasted. God used those hardships to mature David. It was in the cave, the womb of the earth, where God met him and birthed in him a heart ready to lead. Darkness was the perfect training ground for David’s destiny. And those difficult places we so desperately want to be done with can be good training ground for us as well. Will we see this dark time as a womb or a tomb? Is it a birth of something new or the death of what we thought should be? Will we fix our eyes on the truth of God’s goodness, or will we give in to hopelessness and despair? Let’s choose to believe there is a purpose in every season, even the ones that don’t seem to make any sense. Let’s ask God to birth something new inside of us, allowing Him to do a work in us that will better prepare us to walk out His promises. Praise may not shift our circumstance, but it will definitely begin to change our hearts. We can choose how to live through our circumstances.”

I have always been told that reading and praying through the Psalms is so important. David chose to praise God in the midst of being hunted down by a mad man. I want God to use my difficult circumstances to be good training ground for me too! There are things in my life that need to die and there is definitely something new that needs to be birthed. I choose to keep my eyes fixed on the One who stands before me and ask Him to do a mighty work in me. What will you do? 

Until next time my dear friends. This is my journey to joy!!! 

I Can’t Let Shame Define Me

In my last post I talked about my struggle with contempt and shame. In this post, I would like to dig more into shame because it ultimately turns into contempt. I would like to discuss the difference between legitimate shame and illegitimate shame. I pray this will be helpful information to those of you who struggle in this area. 

First of all, everyone experiences shame. When you get in trouble for something you have done, you feel shame. When you say words you know you shouldn’t have said, you feel shame. When you do something you have been told not to do, you feel shame. These are examples of legitimate shame. Legitimate shame is about what you do. Most of us don’t use the word shame—we use the word guilt. 

The next form of shame is a little trickier to discern. “Illegitimate shame is an identity issue that attacks our being. It comes from believing lies about ourselves that have been verbally and nonverbally communicated to us through the actions and responses of others. Illegitimate shame attacks our personal dignity and fills us with shame messages: You are worthless, dirty, perverted, stupid, ugly and unwanted. These shame messages contradict what Christ says is true of us: You are loved, accepted and forgiven. No amount of wrongdoing inflicted by others or chosen by yourself will ever rob you of your God-given dignity. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” The Journey Begins workbook

I have struggled with both types of shame, but the one that has done the most damage is illegitimate shame. This type of shame attached itself to me when I was little for several reasons. I had a father who was spewing lies from his mouth that attacked my dignity. Those messages made me feel stupid and because I didn’t have anyone to protect me, I felt unworthy. 

Let me share some truth with you. “Because we are created in God’s image, we have inherent dignity. As image bearers who reflect our creator, we are beautiful and glorious. We long to be seen, known, loved, honored and desired. God gifted us with talents, longing, intelligence and emotions. He allows us to rule and create. We are permanently marked with the indelible ink of God’s image.”  The Journey Begins workbook

I might do stupid things, but that doesn’t make me stupid. When I say that I am stupid I am committing violence to myself. I want to quit calling myself stupid because I am an image bearer of God. Is He stupid? No! He has gifted me with talents and intelligence. He values me. Here’s a question for you. Do you value yourself, or do you constantly put yourself down? 

When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Do you see a valued child of God or do you see all the flaws and wrinkles you have? Do you pick at what you see? (I really struggle in this area).  I look in the mirror and think, “Yikes!! Where did that 20 year old go?” I need to realize that I am valued by God. Shame has made me look at all the flaws and not the beauty. You know that saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Well, God thinks I am beautiful because He created me. He gave me characteristics that make me unique. I am one of a kind and so are you!

Let me ask you a question. “What makes you feel shame?” Is it something you did or do you feel shame from something someone else did? “Shame is based on what you think, not necessarily what is true. Your experience of shame is subjective. What causes shame for one person may not elicit the same response from another.” The Journey Begins workbook

Each one of us has a story. My story will be different than yours because my experience with shame is different than yours. There are things that happened to me that didn’t happen to you. We need to value one another’s story. We need to listen and support one another because that person has value and so do you! 

“People’s stories reveal how shame has woven itself into their definition of themselves as human beings.” The Journey Begins workbook  How many times have we said to someone else, “You shouldn’t feel that way.” We usually say those words because we see something different in that person than they do. We are trying to help that person see the good that we see. Remember shame is based on what we think, not necessarily on what is true. 

For example, I know I have said to my friends or family many times that I was stupid because my shame made me feel stupid. Let me share something that I read from Lysa Terkeurst. “We’re all living out a story, but then there’s the story we are telling ourselves. We just need to make sure we’re telling ourselves the right story.” AMEN!!!

If we keep telling ourselves the wrong story, then our shame will develop into contempt. And contempt can cause so much harm to ourselves and others. We have to stop the violence to ourselves and others before it gets so destructive. 

I have been journaling a lot lately over these issues. I remembered something from my childhood. I remembered a look on my father’s face. His brow was furrowed and his eyes were full of contempt. That look was a very angry scowl. He didn’t need to say a word. I knew what that look meant. I knew trouble was coming. So, I took on the responsibility of doing whatever I could to get that look off his face. I spent most of my life trying to get that look off his face. That look did as much damage as his words or actions did. 

When he had that look, I believed I had done something wrong, whether I had or not. I hated that look. And when I couldn’t get it to go away, I felt stupid for not being able to do so. This was a vicious cycle that I put myself in every single day. I felt like a failure which led to so many other things. “Illegitimate shame is one of evil’s most efficient weapons. A few moments of gripping shame can create a lifetime of toxic inner turmoil.” The Journey Begins workbook

And let me tell you that I have had a lifetime of toxic inner turmoil!!! I don’t want that for anyone. I have allowed other people to control me just by the look on their faces. (I am not kidding!) Shame has made me do that most of my life. I am slowly learning that it isn’t my responsibility to take the scowl off people’s faces.  

“Shame shrinks us, silences us and numbs us. Whether shame exposes areas you are trying to fix though your own methods, or it exposes where you carry shame messages that came through harm done to you, God offers hope by His abundant grace, mercy and love. God is the only one who can forgive us and relieve us of our guilt. He is the only one who can heal us and remind us of the dignity He bestowed on us. This is a powerful message of hope.” The Journey Begins workbook

I couldn’t believe it when I read this next part. (God is so good!) “Rather than allowing shame to shrink and silence us or to make us brazen and harsh, will we allow God to enter it with us? Shame takes away our faces, our joy of living out the strength and tenderness of God.” The Journey Begins workbook 

Do you see that phrase in bold letters? Do you see that word face??? I was working so hard to take the scowl off of everyone else and didn’t realize I was losing my face (myself) in the process.

Let me end by saying that I have found great joy from inviting the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit into healing me from shame. I can finally see the look of love and acceptance on their faces. I am beginning to see myself as a valued and deeply loved child of God. It feels so good to share my feelings with them.

I really want to encourage you to invite God into your shame. You won’t be sorry! He gives healing and hope. You will see the tenderness of God. He will help you! He does not condemn you. He brings freedom and forgiveness. He is safe. There are some verses in Jeremiah that have meant a lot to me that I would like to end with. His words are true! He will take you out of your captivity of shame. 

Jeremiah 29:11-14  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.”

Until next time friends. This is my journey to joy!