I have a tendency to tell stories lavishly. I can be liberal with my facts. For my personality, it’s all about the experience. Unlike some of my friends, I rarely remember the name of a perfume I loved, or the dollar amount of a ridiculously overpriced item. What I remember (and what I cared about) is the experience—it’s the best perfume I ever smelt! It’s the most expensive item I’ve ever seen! Consequently when I tell stories, sometimes they’re just not 100% accurate. It’s not that I meant to lie, but usually I was so focused on the feeling that I didn’t give significance to the facts.
In my first year of Ministry Training College, which focuses heavily on developing personal character, I had told two of my roommates… my “victory” story of overcoming certain temptations in my life. I told them the great impact of the day I made the final decision to let go of the past and serve God fully. I was triumphant. I was proud of that moment. I was inexplicably grateful to God because he made covenant with me that day and kept it. But I forgot one detail. Even after the triumphant day of my returning to the Lord, I had one last “slip” where I fell easily into a familiar sin. The fact plagued me. I felt like it discredited everything God had done when He helped me change my life. I felt like it made me a liar. I felt like it threatened my future success. Most importantly, I felt like I wasn’t really the winner, I hadn’t really succeeded already. I felt ashamed.
The truth is I had honestly forgotten the slip when I told my roommates my triumphant story, but remembering it later, I still didnt want them to know. And knowing I hadn’t told them made me also feel like a liar. I was embarrassed that I didn’t tell my new friends the 100% truth, but now it was beyond too late. Now, not only would they think the whole testimony was a sham, but they would also think that I intentionally lied about the last part of the story.
I couldn’t sleep that night, so I cried out to God. Do you know what God finally told me? It was profound. He said, “If you’re afraid they’re going to find out you slipped, then tell them you slipped. Then you won’t have anything to be afraid of.” Sounds too easy to be true, but it was true. I got out of bed immediately and went into our dorm living room, where my amazing friends were watching TV. Sheepishly, I told them my deep, dark secret, ready to be banished from Bible College forever, ready to be disqualified from the ministry and from ever representing Jesus Christ.
My friends’ response was shocking. They were heart-broken for me! They expressed their sympathy that I endured additional pain. But most surprisingly of all, when I told them the story of fear that I just told you, they laughed hysterically. We laughed together for a long time that night…. And from that day I knew how to be free from shame.
Shame never works alone—it’s best friends are fear and control. These three need each other or they won’t succeed against you. Shame says “I’m flawed.” Fear says “they’re going to find out I’m flawed.” And control says “I will never let them see my flaw.” In my story, shame said my testimony was flawed… and fear made me not want anyone to know it. Control, the last part of this powerful “chord,” would have been what kept me from ever going back to tell my friends the truth. It’s control that God addressed when he told me to go do exactly what my instincts did not want me to do: to turn myself in!
If I had never given up the need to control the situation by turning myself in—liar, sinner, faker that I was—I would have never over turned controls two buddies, either. See it took courage to let go of control. Courage… the opposite of fear. And the result of both was ultimately me laughing not only at my silliness for being so worried about it in the first place, but laughing at my enemy for thinking I wouldn’t rise up to the opportunity to be shamelessly myself.
You too can be shamelessly yourself—and be proud of who you are without any false identity or pride in external things. Valuing ourselves is not the pride we have when we say “I’m American!” It’s the inherent God-given value we experience when we know we are a Jewel in the King’s crown, the desire of His heart, the sole purpose Jesus came to this earth.
If you feel the need to prove who you are, then you’re real need is for Jesus to tell you who you are. If you’ve read this far, then read a little further. The same supernatural gift of courage and freedom from shame that God has worked in me, in the name of Jesus, I release to you. I decree you are free from the lies of the enemy. I decree you are the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ! I decree you are the light of the world! I decree you are complete in Him! I decree you are holy and without blame before Him! I decree you show forth the praises of God! I decree you are God’s workmanship! I decree you are joint-heir with Christ! I decree you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased person!*
You are shamelss… and now you can change the world in a way no other can!
*(Matthew 5:14, Colossians 2:10, I Peter 1:16, Ephesians 1:4, Romans 5:17, I Peter 2:9, Ephesians 2:10, Romans 8:17, I Peter 2:9, II Corinthians 5:21)