Shame does not coexist comfortably with joy. Experiences of shame eat away at the spiritual and emotional foundations on which joy is built. When we are consumed by shame, joy will keep its distance. But shame has a way of getting to us. Our defenses against the clever tactics of shame are not well developed.
Jesus is a powerful example to us of how to resist shame and make room for joy. First, Jesus 'scorned' shame. He did not give it a stature which it did not deserve. Experiences of shame did not define who he was. He was not just the sum of the shame he had experienced in life. His identity and person were securely rooted in God. So, he was able to experience shaming experiences without internalizing the shame.
Secondly, Jesus had 'joy set before him'. Experiences of shame hurt us. Shame is always hurtful. But we are not entirely defenseless. Jesus drew strength to endure shame from the anticipation of joy. Shame can be better endured if we allow ourselves to remember that God has plans for us that include joy. We are not aimlessly adrift in life, headed nowhere, wanderers in a meaningless maze. On the contrary, every day takes us closer to the fulfillment of God's purposes. Justice and righteousness will reign in the end. Jesus' followers share his conviction that joy, not shame, is God's purpose in creation.
Today we can root ourselves in God's love for us. We can scorn the shame. We can remind ourselves that God's plans for us include joy.
Help me to scorn shame, Lord.
Help me to root myself so completely in you
that shame has no power over me.
Help me to see the joy you have set before me, Lord.
Remind me today of your plans.
Help me to draw strength today
from the hope that your plans for me include joy.
Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan
National Association for Christian Recovery