For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.
When I was a young teen, I spilled an entire gallon container of sticky tea all over the kitchen table and it made a horrible mess. My father screamed at me words I cannot remember, but the shame of that moment I will never forget.
Shame disconnects us from others. Shame causes us to feel worse than anyone else and like we do not belong. When a parent’s behavior towards us communicates that we are not who they want us to be, that we are a disappointment, shame takes up residence in our hearts.
I wish that spilling the tea was the only thing I did that made me feel ashamed. At least that mess was something that I could take some blame for. There were other things that happened in my childhood, dark and evil and dispicable things that my father did to me, that I know now I was not to blame for, but at the time I believed that they were my fault.
Something happens to the heart of a child when they are abused rather than nurtured and brought up to be the person God created them to be. Shame saturated my heart and made it grow hard and desperate for love and control and belonging. Desperate to receive what it was to created to receive so it could thrive and grow to be the person I was supposed to be.
I did not know I was carrying around this kind of heart when I met my former pastor. I did not know how terribly desperate I was. When he hugged me and told me he loved me everything in my world began to feel like it was changing for the good. But the tiny sprouts of life that began to come up died when he told me he desired me in the same twisted sexual way that my own father had. My heart grew cold and desperate once again. But again, I did not know it was this way. I convinced myself that my twisted relationship with him and my adopted father who had abused me was the only love I deserved.
Ten years later, as I was straightening up the church sanctuary on a Monday morning and listening to a sermon on my phone, God opened my ears to another kind of love. A love that was not disappointed in me no matter how many times I had made a mess. A love that called me back home to my Father. A love that said I have taken all of your shame on the cross. And the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ changed everything.
Now when life happens and I make a mess of things, my loving Heavenly Father comes alongside to help me clean it up. He reminds me that it is OK, and that I am always forgiven. He invites me to sit down again at the table. He does not care if I spill the tea. He loves broken people and wants us to know we always belong at His table. And for the first time in my life, I want to please Him out of love and not fear.
My heart still has a lot of healing that needs to take place. A lifetime of abuse I am sure will always cause me to have obstacles to overcome that others do not. But I am not alone. I have a loving Heavenly Father whose hope does not disappoint. Who tells me to not be afraid. He will never reject me. I belong to Him. And that is everything.
For more of my story, go to Caught.