Growing up in church, I thought all pastors’ families were supposed to be perfect. At least, that was what was to be portrayed. They were always smiling, always serving, always hospitable, and the children were always obedient (insert adult eye roll).
And I don’t know how I acquired the false idea that some sins were worse than others, but somehow in my legalistic private school education, the list of sins started with short skirts and ended with girls who got kicked out for, well, you know what.
But somewhere between collecting demerits for too-big earrings and my second divorce—as the pastor’s daughter, no less—I figured out that short skirts aren’t a mortal sin—and neither is divorce, or speeding, or yelling at your kids occasionally, or having a ring around the bathtub.
During that journey, though, Satan had a field day, making my sense of shame and guilt bow my chin to my chest.
The devil suggests to people that they cannot change; God will not help them. They are helpless slaves to sin and its consequences. Romans 6 says instead, “No, you are free.” Romans 7 says, “The Law can neither save nor sanctify you.” Romans 8 says, “The Holy Spirit does enable you to walk in a manner pleasing to God, so you can be a conqueror.”
After we are freed from the bondage of slavery to sin, nothing can separate us from God’s love for us (Romans 8:37–39). God’s love is not conditional; He doesn’t look at the length of our skirts to determine the height or depth of His love for us.
A few years ago, my dad (the aforementioned pastor) noticed that I always seemed to be carrying around a sense of shame and heaviness for my current life situation (being divorced is no picnic, in case you were wondering). He reassured me that he did not see me through the lens of a divorced woman, or a woman who’d been fired from a job, or a woman who could never live up to some other imaginary standards. He just saw me as his beloved daughter. Period.
I feel the same way about my daughter. She is living far, far from God although she professed His name for many years when she was young. However, my love for my daughter is not based on whether she goes to church or plays DnD on Sundays.
So, how do we get from hanging our heads in shame because we were formerly slaves to living like the beloved children of the King of kings that we are?
We must learn to reframe the shame! First we face it, then we grace it. Remember, the opinions of others don’t matter. We will always be too much or not enough for some people, and that’s ok. Through the grace of God and Christ’s suffering, we are accepted the way we are!
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.Romans 8:1 ESV
Boom. Mic drop. That’s the whole sermon, right there.
Romans 8:15 tells us that we have not been delivered from slavery to fall back into fear! We are to embrace the grace we’ve been given; otherwise, we’re throwing God’s gift back in His face.
While feelings are, indeed, powerful, they are not what’s real. They may indicate that we’ve got some emotional baggage to unload, but they should not dictate our actions and our thoughts. We might just need to spend some time aligning our emotions with God’s truths.
So, go live like the conqueror you are! Use your freedom to point others to Jesus.
Read and Reflect:
Romans 8—read the whole context for this week’s message
Think and Pray
- Are you stuck in a cycle of shame and guilt from which you need to be set free?
- Why is it often more difficult to receive grace for yourself than it is to extend grace to others?
- How do your feelings get in the way of your acting like a child of the King?
- What would it mean for you to actually live like a beloved child of the King of kings instead of a servant in the dungeon?
**This article also appears on the Beyond Sunday Blog.**