Sometimes you might look at your leaders and think we’re ‘perfect’, but that’s absolutely not true! The fact is, if you’re going through something difficult, or made some crazy poor decisions, the chances are pretty good that someone on our church staff has gone through or done it too. Even the Apostle Paul, who God used to write 2/3 of the New Testament said about himself in:
1 Corinthians 15:9-10, “For I am the least of the apostles and don’t even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”
This passage is a great reminder that we all have some rough parts of our story – things we’ve been through or done that have chipped away at our sense of VALUE – probably creating feelings of unworthiness… yet God still chooses to use us.
When I was 13 years old, I fell in love with Jesus! I asked him into my heart and began walking with him. And he has been the love of my life ever since! But shortly after he came into my heart, I reached out to a group of girls and invited them to my youth group... one of the girls, who was 18, began to take an interest in me as more than just a friend. That was back before anyone was talking about that kind of stuff. Anyhow, one night she spent the night and took advantage of/molested me sexually... awakening that part of my life way before it should have ever been awakened... Essentially my innocence was stolen. Over time she told me she was in love with me and that she was going to marry me one day... I was so young and scared to talk to my parents but it really messed with my mind and emotions. I didn’t really know what was going on. Finally, I met with one of the pastors at my church who validated me and said, with tears in his eyes, that this never should have happened to me, & that Jesus wanted to cleanse me and heal my broken heart. I remember this being an intense time of crying out to God – I desperately needed him to deliver me from this situation... eventually that girl moved out of town and I was free!... I thought.
However, I didn’t really do anything else about that wound except to continue going to church and my youth group ... and keep gaining an understanding of who I was in Christ. That wound was buried…
So a few years later when I was 15 – another situation happened. One night I had a slumber party, and there were lots of girls there from our youth group and school... that night another girl who was actually a year younger than me ended up sleeping next to me and somewhere in the night we kissed... that started a whole full blown relationship. We had a paper route together – I went to all of her volleyball and basketball games – we hung out all the time – her family became like family to me - it was unhealthy in so many ways. I still had no understanding of why this was taking place. In fact I had a boyfriend. I was not attracted to girls that way – but with this girl it was different – it was like a spell – a stronghold – she had so much control over me. My mom didn’t like me hanging around her, but I wouldn’t listen. It was as if that first situation had marked me somehow – the enemy knew I had been victimized once and I could be a victim again. This time I was even more devastated because I really was walking with Jesus. I knew it was wrong, and yet I felt so oppressed, even depressed at times, so much that I wanted to take my life, because I had no idea how to break free from this relationship, or my own flesh.
So again, I cried out to God to deliver me from this situation in my life, from myself… and God heard my cry. I somehow broke free and followed the guy I was dating to A&M. At A&M I had a dream about ORU, so I went... which is where I met my hubby Rob and have now been happily married for 31 years!!!
The enemy will use anything he can to pull our attention and affection away from Jesus and his love for us, so that we feel devalued and worthless. He will heap so much shame on us that we hide. We simply never talk about the painful, imperfect: wounds/ addictions/ sins/ abuses/ dark places in our lives… we cover it all up. We feel so ashamed that we never get free. We stay wounded.
Brene’ Brown, a brilliant psychologist defines shame this way: “An intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection. I don’t believe shame is helpful or productive.”
Shame keeps us feeling devalued and unworthy and stops us from facing our issues. We see how when Adam and Eve felt ashamed in the garden they hid themselves, but God came to them and brought them garments of skins that he made, so their shame would be removed and they’d be properly clothed. In the same way, sometimes people don’t want to come to church because they think the church is going to condemn them, but we believe it’s the churches responsibility to be like God and protect people from shame. So if anyone in your life has said, “shame on you”, I say, SHAME OFF YOU!
Hebrews 12:2, “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Romans 10:11, “For with the heart one believes and is justified and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”
I read this little story in a devotional about a man who had some failures and sin in his life and knew he was going to stand before God one day so he was praying about it. Then, Satan appeared and mocked him saying, “There’s no use praying, my friend. I’ve created a photo album of over 100 of your worst sins to prove your guilt. God will never let you in.” The guy was pretty shook up, remembering the many times he had failed God, his wife and his family. That night he dreamed about the photo album and saw Satan making his case before the Lord. “Look at these pages of sin,” said the devil. “He’s guilty as charged.” But then the Righteous Judge said, “Hand me that album.” Thumbing through the pages, he replied, “These photos are indistinguishable to me. What is smeared across each photo? Oh! Wait! I recognize it now. That’s the blood of my son. Case dismissed. Not guilty!”
SHAME OFF YOU!
Galatians 3:13, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.
Jesus wants to take those fractured, wounded parts of your life and REDEEM them! There are many things God will use to redeem your wounds. A few are:
- His word.
- His presence.
- Counseling/ Recovery Programs.
- Godly friends.
Probably the biggest and sweetest redemptive tool God uses is godly relationships.
Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”
Ecclesiastes 4:9 -10, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach our and help.”
I had several relationships that have really helped me get free and more fully embrace my true value and worth! My parents: my dad was constantly telling me how valuable, important, and smart I was; my mom who really didn’t want me hanging out with those girls, well I should have listened. When I finally told them what was going on, they loved me unconditionally... which is also what my youth pastors and church leaders did. By the time I got to ORU I was excited to move forward in my walk with God and my goal of becoming a doctor, but I was SUPER convinced I would never ever get close to girls again in my life. There at ORU, I heard and studied about unhealthy soul ties and familiar spirits and that God could set me free from all of that! Again this was a soul - searching time for me, where I did some hard work denouncing the enemy’s lies and receiving the cleansing, healing power of the Holy Spirit.
But perhaps most of my tangible healing came from a female relationship God brought to bring me wholeness. One day I was heading out to a movie when I ran into the one and only ...Rob Koke – he was big man on campus – everyone had told me about him – how much he loved God and was going to change the world. And he asked me what I was doing. When I told him I was going to the movies, he said, “Why don’t you come to the prayer gardens with me instead – because me and some friends are going to worship God together.” Well, I had heard about being invited to the prayer gardens. That really, it meant the guy wanted to smooch. But he looked innocent enough so I said yes – and that night I met a girl named Katie. The whole night she was staring at me and I thought, “O no, here we go again.” But there was something so pure and precious about her, so we became best of friends. Over time God showed her what I had walked through without me ever telling her, and she began to teach me what a healthy friendship looked like... that girls could appropriately hold hands and hug and kiss on the cheek... She actually made me do those things until I felt comfortable. It was beautiful.
From one woman’s hand I was abused and wounded, but from another woman’s hand I was healed!
God brought redemption from that heart wrenching mess I found myself in – through a godly friend!
And now I am honored to have the most amazing girlfriends all over the world to do life and ministry with; and have been entrusted with the privilege of leading a ministry called SISTERHOOD that fosters healthy relationships between women!!!
What a Redeeming God we serve!
Girls and guys - Your sin and imperfect experiences don’t define you – God does!
He wants to take every wound – remove all the shame from it - and redeem it to bring glory to his name... and then - through your story - bring redemption to others going through the same thing!
I love you and am praying for you!