Shedding the Shamecoat

RAINCOAT“Shame is like a raincoat over the soul, repelling the living water of Jesus that would otherwise establish us as the beloved of God.”—Andrew Comiskey

I used to wear a raincoat that was standard issue from the enemy. It wasn’t one of those waistcoats. The adversary outfitted me with a full-length, hooded number accessorized with matching yellow boots and an umbrella.

I wore my “shame-coat” 24/7.  I even slept fully dressed in my waterproof covering. And whenever I left the house, I popped up my shame-brella before I stepped through the doorway.

So, when the living water of God’s love washed over me, most of it rolled right off my protective covering. With my shame-wear repelling God’s love for me, the fountain of living water He opened up over me became mostly runoff.

There’s a long history behind the shame-coat I used to wear.

In paradise we were naked and unashamed. But ever since the serpent instigated our rebellion in the garden, he has been leveraging shame in order to maintain a barrier between us and the love that God showers upon us.  Since the Fall, the serpent has been whispering to us, “You had better hide!”* And in our shame, we’ve all been running for cover–hiding from ourselves, hiding from each other, and hiding from God.

Here is the truth. Jesus suffered death on a cross—despising the shame—in order to bear our shame, so that He might take away our shame forever. By trusting in Him we can finally shed our shame-coats, and never wear them again. And that’s good news because God’s love for us is a downpour—all the time. He means to soak us. He aims to drench us. And He wants us to joyfully receive every drop He pours over us.

Last summer my two youngest sons ran outside during a rare Colorado rain shower wearing only shorts and T-shirts. With arms open wide, and their smiling faces to the sky, they splashed in the puddles and danced with delight under the refreshing afternoon shower.

As I reflect on their joyful celebration, I think to myself, “Now that’s the idea.”

How did you learn to shed your shame-coat?

*Michael John Cusick, Surfing for God

 

5 thoughts on “Shedding the Shamecoat

  1. You’ve got a knack for asking questions that have been on my mind, Dave!

    In some ways I shed my shame-coat by having had experiences that are so far past the shame that it seems trivial. Like deciding between a cafe mocha and a latte in Helmand.

    But some things…there are some experiences almost a quarter-century in the past that will bring me out of a restless doze (never a sound sleep), completely heartsick. They were legally sanctioned, and the right thing to do at the time, but that doesn’t dilute the gall I chose to drink.

    I can only hope that somewhere there is, as C.S. Lewis so beautifully put it, the healing of harms. Today I can accept the necessity, and the forgiveness, but I’ll always live under the shadow of sorrow.

    And perhaps that is right, because that sorrow has given birth to a longing for gentleness and decency, and the will to subsume my own desires to those ends.

    • Andrew, I think you are processing your past experiences in a healthy way. Feelings of sorrow, a desire for gentleness and decency, and a hope for the healing of harms–all of these are fitting and appropriate responses to the events you experienced. If we can carry our sorrow while receiving the love and forgiveness of God, then we will not permit shame to drive a wedge in our relationship with Him.
      Thanks for sharing your insights.

      • Exactly, Dave. I have a mental image of God holding me, in my sorrow, to His chest, holding me close.

        The scars on my soul are perhaps my stigmata, and I value them, because they make whole what I am today. Not perfect, not even good, but I’ll die trying to move ever closer to the Light.

        That is the gift of the heartbreak we embrace.

  2. You got a raincoat, Dave. I got an entire wardrobe full of of water-repellant wear. On any given day I could accessorize my shame-wear for the day. (No yellow for me; it’s not my color.) And I got so comfortable wearing shame I didn’t even recognize o emotion for what it was. It just felt n-o-r-m-a-l.
    How did I start replacing my wardrobe? I had to install a light in my closet — the light of Truth — and see what I’d stuffed in there: lies and shame. And then it wasn’t up to me to replace the wardrobe. Nope. I had to let Someone Else cover the cost for me.

    **So glad to see your post in my inbox. I love reading them and sharing them with others!**

  3. Beth, you bring up a good point–how comfortable we become in our rain gear. We don’t realize we’re wearing it or what it’s doing to us. And the light in the closet–yes–the enemy wants to keep us in the dark because he doesn’t want us to see what we’re wearing.

    Oh, and your new attire looks good on you.:-)

    Thank you so much for reading and for sharing!

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