“Who told you that you were naked?” (Genesis 3:11). When God asked Adam and Eve that in the garden, there was another question underneath it: How do you even know about shame?
The answer, of course, is that it was the serpent—Satan—who encouraged Adam and Eve to rebel against God and allow shame to become central to the human experience. And that same old enemy is still at work, whispering to us now. He whispers accusation and condemnation. He whispers that it’s now us who God is ashamed of—you and me.
Made For Love
But that’s not at all what Scripture tells us. God made humans in love and for love, not in disappointment or for shame (Ephesian 1:3-5). He loves each of us “in the same way” that he loves Jesus (John 17:23). And because of his great love, he gave us free will. Standing in eternity, he’s always known each of us through and through—all the way to the end. He’s always known our frailty. Our foolishness. He’s always known we would abuse our freedom. He’s always known we would rebel and rebel and rebel.
“Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.”
Standing in eternity, God saw what we would do—and he made us still. He wanted to be in relationship with us still. He loved us still, outrageously.
No one can’t stop God from loving us. He does. It’s true. It’s a thing. If you were to plot his love on a graph, the line would be high and flat. It wouldn’t fluctuate over time; it would never swing in response to our actions, even our worst.
You couldn’t plot his love, of course. No one could draw a y-axis that high or an x-axis that long. No page, no screen could ever come close to depicting his love. It’s massive and relentless.
What we can do, though, is render ourselves incapable of receiving all that love. And we do that by allowing shame to rule in our hearts. That’s why pushing and promoting human shame is a scheme used so often by the enemy, even today. He uses the tactic because it’s effective. Shame, just like it did for Adam and Eve, makes us want to run and avoid God.
“They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” (Genesis 3:8)
Shame encourages us to cut ourselves off from God. Shames makes us want to cut ourselves off from the source of all healing and help, all goodness and belonging.
Consider When Shame Entered Your Story
Spend a few minutes in solitude. When you’re ready, think back to a time when shame first crept into your life. Try to let your mind settle on a single moment. Try to recall a moment when the message came, perhaps through a well-meaning person, that you should be ashamed of who you are. Take plenty of time to imagine the particular situation, the exact circumstances. Now, imagine that you could speak to you back then. What would you say? If you could break into that long-ago moment and speak to that precious child, what would you want to tell him or her?
Lastly, consider this . . . Can you receive those same words into your grown-up heart today?
Read also: Being Present