This is one of my favourite psalms. It speaks so completely to the most intimate and restorative works of God in our soul. Let’s just focus on one of them today: healing us from shame. Shame is an emotional experience that is both very normal and very under-recognised. It first resulted from the dislocation of perfect relationship that occurred in The Fall way back in Genesis. Genesis 2:25 – “the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” 3:8 – “the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” Shame can be the result of sin (yours or someone else’s), but it can also be a natural and beneficial signal that keeps us within the boundaries of human limitation and our inadequacy without God. In its natural form it “tells us our limits…we can and will make mistakes. Our shame tells us we are not God” (Bradshaw 1988, vii). Tragically shame can also become incorporated in our identity, what Bradshaw refers to as ‘toxic shame’. In its toxic form it tells us I AM shameful, an object to be scorned and discarded, unable to be loved. It seems to require that we live with a deep cover-up that damages our intimate relationships through in-authenticity and desperate attempts at control to avoid exposure, embarassment and desolation. Learned behaviour that disrespects other people will keep passing on shame through generations of abuse and barriers to intimacy. But there is hope for us afflicted! Psalm 25:3 “none of those who wait for You will be ashamed” v7-“according to your lovingkindness remember me” v20-“Do not let me be ashamed for I take refuge in you. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for You.” I believe the antidote to shame is to gradually open the hidden side of you toward God and safe people in His community. By taking those courageous steps we can become fully known and securely held in love, in a way that melts all those critical messages that point to our unworthiness. After all, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). The ultimate protection against shame is to become an integrated member of a forgiving and loving Christian community of grace – one that cocoons us in the warmth of unconditional loving relationships despite our honest failings and projected insecurities. Remember Jesus cleans his fish after he catches them (Mark Potter). Here are some further cross-references about the Christian hope that overcomes shame:
Psalms 103:12 – “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”
Isaiah 1:18 – “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
Hosea – the symbolic relationship between the prophet and his unfaithful wife.
John 10:28 – “I give eternal life to them and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
Romans 8:1 – “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Hebrews 10:19 – “We have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus”
Hebrews 10:22 – “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”
Hebrews 10:39 – “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.”
1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to [keep on] cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.”
1 John 3:1 – “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
REFERENCE: Bradshaw, John 1988 ‘Healing the Shame That Binds You’, Health Communications Inc., Deerfield Beach.