I remember feeling numb and barely able to move at times as I began to take responsibility for some of my harsh experiences in past years.
Whoever else I had been blaming for my problems was no longer the issue. I had to be real and heal. Denial that I could have possibly played a part or even been responsible for some of my experiences kept me in the dark.
Denial does that. It could include denial about our part in a relationship gone wrong, a breakdown in family relationships or a situation turned bad at work.
Facing the facts and focusing on the role we may have played is the first step to turning things around in our lives. When we remove denial and start owning up (being real, and honest) about some things that have not gone particularly well, we begin to move from death to life. The scales fall from our eyes as we take responsibility (even if it was just a small part).
But once we have accepted our role, we can’t stay there. It is so easy to wrap ourselves up in the grave-clothes of the past (guilt and shame). Like a python, guilt and shame wants to wrap itself around and slowly squeeze the life out of us.
As we begin to push through denial and own up to our part and unwrap the guilt and shame, life begins to flow back into our being.
For a time, I met monthly at a friend’s home along with other women for fellowship, journaling and art. I remember the first few gatherings sitting, enjoying the company of the other women, holding my coffee cup, taking sips now and then and gazing into her backyard.
There was an old tree in her yard and I watched it change through the seasons. I saw fall arrive, the leaves turning into a beautiful array of color and then slowly falling off as the snow arrived and the bleakness of winter set in.
Then the days got longer as spring returned, buds appeared and the tree came back to life.
It was a reminder of the changes that were taking place in my life. This tree brought comfort to me as I began to throw off the guilt and shame (grave-clothes) of the past. The numbness began to fade as the cloak of God’s grace, mercy and love was placed on my shoulders.
Light begins to filter back into our lives as we tear the veil of spiritual deception (guilt and shame) that has covered us because of past mistakes or personal trauma. I found myself happy to just sip a cup of coffee and enjoy the warmth, good feelings and positive emotions that were settling into my life.
As Christians we need to embrace who we are in God:
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation a people to be his very own and to proclaim the wonderful deeds of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9 ISV)
We must move out of the darkness of winter, into the light of spring and new life.
After all the struggle over the years I had come to realize the truth about myself. I am loved, my mistakes don’t define me. I will learn from them and use them as stepping-stones to create a better life for myself.
We can embrace Christ’s love for us without the shadow of shame and guilt from the past hovering over us. Spring arrives, the days get brighter, the tree gets fuller and we become fruitful in our lives once again.
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions. It is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2: 4-5 NIV)
We must believe we are forgiven and no longer defined by our past. We must participate in Christ’s resurrection, throw off the grave-clothes of shame and guilt because we are no longer living among the dead.
We have been made alive in Christ! Do you believe that?