This past Sunday we continued our year-long exploration into relationships. This past month we delved into the concept that all of our life's journey is sacred. The sacred journey of our lives includes the difficult, and even shameful, parts of our life. Too often we feel that in those areas God somehow flees the scene and we are left to struggle alone. Our society and all too often our personal experiences have taught us that our weaknesses and "sins" are to be hidden and are a source of great shame. For many of us, shame and guilt have been constant companions. The church has also been guilty of sending these shaming and guilting messages. Shame and guilt are effective tools wheeled by individuals and institutions to manage behavior. However, neither shame nor guilt has the power to produce lasting transformation. Paul, when talking to the Romans (2:4) said that it is God's kindness, (love and grace intermingled) that leads us to repentance. It is through this "repentance" based in love and acceptance that true change and transformation occur.
If we are honest we don't often stay in the place of knowing and feeling that we're loved and accepted by God. That is why the practices of silence and solitude are critical. It is in silence and solitude (prayer without words) that we begin to allow God to speak of His unconditional love for us. Moving beyond words, we no longer need to speak (which often triggers the shame/guilt/performance pattern), rather we just "are" with God. We find that as we come to Him, just as we are- without excuse or need to posture- we are known and loved. We find, as did the Psalmist, that, "we can never be lost to God's Spirit! We can never get away from our God! If we go up to heaven, God is there; if we go down to the place of the dead, God is there. [Even] if we try to hide in the darkness, the night becomes light around us. For even darkness cannot hide from God. To God the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are both alike to God....God both precedes and follows us and places His hand of blessing on our heads."
The psalmist ends by saying, "This is too glorious, too wonderful to believe!" And so it is--and we simply don't believe it most of the time. Which is why we need to keep reminding ourselves, and each other, of the truth...that we are God's beloved and nothing, absolutely nothing (including our own darkness, sin and frailty) can separate us from His love. And once we know we are loved, will we allow that love to transform our lives?
Reflect this week:
Am I living as God's beloved?
By Babs May-Clark