I got together the other morning with a new co-leader in my high school small group. I wanted to get to know her better so we could better serve the girls in our group. She’s an adorable, spunky, goofy, brave young woman of 21 years who is full of the love and grace of Jesus. I asked her to tell me about herself and for the next hour and a half we shared our stories.
As I left and drove home I noticed I felt better, like I had overcome something, jumped over a hurdle of some sort that I have been afraid of even trying to get over for a very long time. “What happened?” I thought. So I mulled over our time together and tried to figure out this lightness and joy in my soul.
I had been surprised to learn that my co-leader had experienced some of the same things I had. Some of the same sins as well. Those “surely I am the only person who did such horrible things” and “no one would ever respect me if they knew this about me” type things. Things that had happened which were out of my control but that I have blamed myself for, and also things that were in my control that I had made horrible choices about. Things that I am scared to talk about because I fear judgement and condemnation. I have stuffed some of those things deep down inside somewhere and tried to forget them, and, in fact, I HAD forgotten some of them for a period of time. I have been afraid to deal with them because I am too ashamed to bring them to the light.
You see, for decades now, Satan has been messin’ with me. He’s convinced me to continue to feel shame and guilt about things from my past. He has made me feel unworthy of my Savior. I’ve realized that the last thing Satan wants me to do is get over these feelings because as long as he can continue to convince me that I am still dirty and unworthy of grace, I will suffer and never experience the forgiveness and love of Jesus the way the Father meant me to.
You guys! God never meant for me (or you!) to carry guilt and shame around past repentance and forgiveness of sin. He never meant for me to feel unworthy of His grace. In addition to dying for our sins, He died so our conscience could be clean after forgiveness (Hebrews 9:14). And I’m pretty sure that when Jesus forgave the sinful woman in Luke 7, He told her to go in peace. Yep, He did. “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; GO IN PEACE,” He said.
So what’s peace?
PEACE: mental calm; serenity.
SERENITY: the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.
Well… I sure don’t feel mentally calm or untroubled while I’m feeling guilt and shame about things from long ago. Those feelings make me insecure and sometimes angry. And then they make me depressed. In fact, those feelings give me the sense that I am not qualified to be a Youth Leader, or a mentor, or to pray over people. They make me feel like a horrible wife, mother, daughter, etc., and just a horrible person overall!
“You were never meant to carry this beyond the cross.” Dear Younger Me, by Mercy Me
Those lyrics resonate. They are true. My feelings lie. Satan is the accuser and Jesus is the defender and forgiver. I am no longer dirty, I am washed clean by the blood of Jesus. I am not unworthy, God loved me first and I can draw near to the throne of grace with confidence.
And so, I realized the reason why I felt lighter. Because my co-leader was brave enough to tell me “those things” about her, I became brave too. While telling my story, I revealed some things about my past that only a few people know because I have been ashamed. As a result a huge weight was lifted off my soul and we were able to bask in the glory of our testimonies, in what God has accomplished in our lives, the pit He brought us up out of, and the amazing way the Holy Spirit transformed us and continues to do so.
“Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and He knows everything.”
1 John 3:20
My sins are forgiven, glory to God! God is greater than my feelings!