New Year’s Resolution For Christians: Resolve To Own Your Shame

by Bobby Gilles

in Testimony Tips

SHAME graffiti photo by cod-gabriel, posted from Flickr“Shame thrives on hiding. To be discovered is to be rejected.”

Ian Morgan Cron said these words on the Refuge SSI Retreat Kristen and I attended. Ian is a pastor, author and singer-songwriter. In his latest book “Jesus, My Father, The Cia, and Me” he details the shame and rejection he felt and feared, as the son of an alcoholic father (who, it turns out, also worked undercover for the CIA).

Resolve to tell your story of redemption in 2012 — warts and all. Because Christ is Lord of (warts and) all. God uses your testimony to share His love and spread His kingdom. If only you don’t let shame rob you — and the kingdom — of your story. As Ian went on to explain at Refuge SSI:

“You’ll do anything to hide shame because of fear of rejection. You won’t tell your story.

  • You’ll minimalize it (‘it wasn’t really so bad …’)
  • You’ll spiritualize it (‘the Lord was teaching me,’ and other generalities)
  • You’ll edit, revise, numb the wound, become a perfectionist to compensate

and a million other strategies for hiding.” But in Christ there is no shame because Word and Spirit together teach two things:

  1. We are more sinful than we thought, we are more inadequate than we realized, our situation is more hopeless than we knew.
  2. But in Christ there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1). He is perfectly pure, perfectly adequate, and the hope he gives will be perfectly realized.

If you’ve given your life to Christ, you can safely own your past — the sins you’ve done and the sins others did to you. In fact, the hope of Christ will more clearly shine through you because of where he’s brought you from. As Flannery O’Connor said:

I don’t trust anyone without a limp.

This New Year, resolve to stop letting abstractions kill your testimony. As I’ve said before, you must of course use discernment when talking about where God has brought you from. For example, detailing a history of sexual sin isn’t a good idea in mixed company, nor is it a good idea to identify people you had illicit encounters with (it could even lead to a lawsuit).

But you possess common sense. You can give your testimony in a way that respects your audience and protects the privacy rights of specific people in your story (the Bible provides a great model for this in Paul’s testimony, Acts 26:1-23). Beyond that, you will find that being open about the sins done to you and those done through you can help others and yourself.

  • It helps others because many of us tend to think, deep down, that no one has as much reason to feel shame as we do. Hearing your story helps others realize that if God can heal and redeem you, he can do the same for them.
  • It helps you because telling your story is like getting the proverbial weight off your chest. God created us as social creatures — even us introverts. We need to share.

Resolve to own your shame in the new year and thus, let God release you from it and use the testimony to release others. Resolve to tell your story of what God has done for you. Resolve to sing your own song in the night. For helpful tips on how to give your testimony, visit our “How To Write A Christian Testimony” page at the top of My Song In The Night.

“Shame” photo, top, by Gabriel, used via Creative Commons license

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