Mirror of Shame

Brokenness, brokenness
Is what I long for
Brokenness is what I need
Brokenness, brokenness
That’s what You want from me

So take my heart and mold it
Take my mind transform it
Take my will conform it
To Yours, to Yours, Oh Lord

Back in October, one of my first days returning home from the mission field, these song lyrics blared in my mind. I thought, “Really God? Brokenness? I thought we were done with this already. I thought that after nearly 2 years of sobriety we were done with brokenness and well on our way to my healing.” Oh how naïve I was.

When my soul is starving, I feed my flesh. When my soul is satisfied, my flesh is sustained.

Over the last week I have noticed external indicators of my internal condition that are all too familiar. My heart is hurting. But instead of acknowledging pain as the indicator, not the culprit, I avoid it altogether. I try to raise my serotonin (happy chemical) levels and physically feed my flesh by eating more sugar and carbs. (Way too many Hot Tamales and Cup of Noodles). I mentally and emotionally feed my flesh through distraction in attempts to escape. Social Media, movies, or any of the thousands of mindless avenues I could go down on the internet. Sleep. Maybe I could just avoid life altogether.

None of it ever works.

Physically my body is wondering where the vegetables have gone and wants exercise. Mentally I am even more cluttered and in chaos. I’ve been spending so much time trying to distract myself, I have distracted myself from the dishes. Now emotionally that doesn’t help, looking around my home raises my anxiety as I see the “To-Do List” growing before my very eyes. So I’ll take a nap; avoid now, face life later. Well, I always wake up. The insanity of the inner workings of my brain are laughable. Yet how many times have I fallen into this very trap before?

It’s easy to believe lies when you are isolated, and so easy to isolate when you are believing lies.

A trap. That’s what it is. A trap set by The Devil to get me exactly where he wants me. Alone and isolated so he can lie to me some more.

In my isolation the Devil plays a game. He leads me to his “Fun House” where there is a hall of mirrors. These mirrors distort my image, the reflection I see a lie. But the best lies are mostly truths. Blatant lies are difficult to believe and the Devil knows this. So he shows me an image of myself that is mostly true.

In the Mirror of Shame he reminds me of my past. Reminds me of the abhorrent behavior I engaged in. Of the grotesque things I allowed to happen to my body. Of the painful memories I have suppressed for so long. Of my failures both big and small. It is me in the reflection. The reflection a distorted and perverted image of who I am. The Devil gets me to believe that distorted image IS me. Who I am. I start to equate who I am with what I do. I let past (and present) actions define me.

When I begin to believe his lies I slip and sink into the pit. I come under the oppression of Depression. Despair and Exhaustion my companions. Ashamed I have allowed myself to become enveloped in darkness yet again, I sit there longer. Shaming myself for my shame.

“Shame makes us want to hide from others and even from ourselves.”

“Shame is a deep, painful sense of inadequacy and personal failure based on the inability to live up to a standard of conduct—one’s own or one imposed by others.”

“Shame is a very heavy feeling. It is a feeling that you do not measure up and maybe never will measure up to the sort of person you are meant to be. The feeling, when you are conscious of it, gives you a vague disgust with yourself, which in turn feels like a hunk of lead on your heart. Shame is like an invisible load that weighs your spirit down and crushes out your joy. It is a lingering sorrow.”

–Mending the Soul by Steven R. Tracy

So why does God want brokenness from me? Why do I have to experience the weight of my sin, resulting in shame?

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. I will build you up again, and you, [Tesia], will be rebuilt.” –Jeremiah 31:3-4a

Because He wants to rebuild me. He wants to heal me. He wants to restore me to an even better condition than I was in before I was broken. He wants to make me a new creation.

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” –1 Corinthians 5:17

All of this cannot be done by cutting corners. I can’t skip over the pain and grieving of my sin straight to forgiven. That is denial. Denial is deceit that destroys your heart. Not acknowledging the wounding sin has caused your heart is like a child with a bleeding arm saying to the doctor, “I don’t need stitches. I’m healed.” It’s a painful process for a wound to be stitched. And like a wound unattended, denial allows for heart wounds to fester and become infected.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” –Psalm 147:3-4

So I have massive, infected heart wounds that are painfully being cleaned out and stitched up. But I forgot by who. I forgot that the very God who determines the number of stars and calls them by name is the same God who is healing me. I forgot how great and mighty God is. I forgot how much He loves me. I forgot that I am “confident of this, that he who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 1:6. I believed the lies and forgot the truth. Jesus never left me in my shame and pain, I did. I abandoned myself and my hope and faith in a God bigger than the ugliness of my sin.

I am in a war. The Devil, a much craftier adversary than I, will outsmart me every time. I need Jesus to fight the battle for me if I want to be victorious; but I have to be willing to show up to the battlefield. Retreat is defeat. There is no winning when I run in fear. However, when I show up and finally say, “I’m ready to surrender all (again) to You Jesus. You take it.” He tenderly says, “Here I am. I’ve been waiting. I never gave up on you and I never will. I won’t leave the good work I began in you unfinished.”

When I finally see the truth, His love and grace are overwhelming.

“For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!” –Romans 5:17

When I look in the mirror of righteousness, I see my true reflection. The truth is I am vested in Christ’s righteousness. Righteousness that is held completely, permanently, and inalienably; not capable of being taken away or denied. I AM forgiven and free. It is who I am, not what I do. While what I do is based on who I am, who I am is not based on what I do.

When I remember who He is, and who He says I am, that Hall of Mirrors in the Devil’s fun house actually does become a funny game. Because I can look at that perverted image of myself and say, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” –Genesis 50:20

I cling to the promise “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” –Romans 8:28. He will use my pain for His purpose, my growth and His glory.

I am in a war. Words are the weapons. Truth pierces the darkness and lies bring death and destruction. Today I pick up the “Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” and I fight. –Ephesians 6:17. With Jesus, I cannot lose.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” –Romans 8:37-39

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