Have you ever experienced the loss of a dream. Lived within the harsh reality, an empty space longing the return of a prodigal son or daughter; find yourself lost in the expectations of what others expected, the object of judgment, its condemnation, its pursuit, saddened and disgraced in what you expected and lost?
After Elizabeth became pregnant with John, she praised God saying, “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.” – Luke 1:25
I’ve not experienced the kind of disgrace that Elizabeth felt, but I do know what disgrace feels like.
Disgrace brings with it a silent shame. Shame also includes guilt and condemnation.
Certainly what I’ve experienced isn’t the same type of disgrace that Elizabeth experienced. Because in her reality, time in which she lived, the inability to bear children was equated with sin.
Today, in western culture, disgrace and sin are not equated with infertility. What we experience instead is the sinful human nature that is prone to question, judge, condemn and gossip unmercifully.
Disgrace still abounds in all circles of society, it just rears it ugly head and speaks regardless.
So , was it sin that caused Elizabeth’s barrenness? No! But for the sake of understanding the consequence of a false narrative, this is how it is fleshed out.
It was believed and assumed that Elizabeth was the problem!
She was the reason for disgrace!
She was destined to feel its shame!
In essence, her disobedience ignited the wrath of God, resulting in a withholding of God’s blessing!
Period! No but’s or if’s!
Shame still exists today, therefore to effectively overcome it, its important to know what and in whom we believe – embrace our true identity so shame does not consume us. Truth is, and so easily adopted, is the belief that what feels good at the moment, what is esteemed culturally acceptable or politically correct, this becomes the new TRUTH! Its not! Same lie, packaged differently to lure us into a shame-based identity. Satan, he’s a crafty one!
Truth matters! Who defines absolute TRUTH?
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not. There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light. There was the true light, even the light which lighteth every man, coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and they that were his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth.” – John 1:1-14
Shame is like a weed: it grows, intertwines, strangles while it mingles through the recesses of our emotional intelligence with a barrage of endless lies in false narratives – resulting in the paralyzing feeling in unworthiness which further alienates, causing an inability to discern truth from the false in an attempt to separate us from our true identity (in Christ). Gossip participates in this destructive process too. It partners, propels, probes and spreads insidious destructive words that seek only to kill, steal and destroy.
Jesus came as the door and good shepherd!
“I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” – John 10:9-11
Who then comes to steal, kill and destroy? Who promotes shame, guilt and condemnation?
The enemy of our souls.
• Shame speaks loudly – words that whisper condemnation when a son makes a destructive and quite possibly a life altering choice.
• Shame speaks loudly – words that whisper to destroy that ‘you don’t measure up’ when all of a sudden you are the next topic of gossip amongst those who you thought were trusted friends.
• Shame speaks loudly – words that whisper so unkindly when you thought you’d parented and loved well, but a prodigal consumes.
There is silence but silence sometimes feels golden. Not having or wanting to talk about your prodigal gives a sense of peace. Most likely a false sense, one that ultimately isolates instead of healing. The illusion, silence, and not wanting to talk about it somehow makes us feel better. Not having the pressure to focus and be dominated by it, its is a sweet release! Reality hits, we think if we talk about it, it will become too unbearable, too raw, too scary, too disgraceful! We begin to question and walk in self-doubt; can my heart, mind and body bear it?
Hope often feels like a distant friend!
I’m reminded of the words in scripture … “a hope deferred makes that heart sick” and my heart resonates! I’ve known this! I’ve felt it! A different outcome, someday, seems too far away! The soul screams I want it now! So, silence is good, it provides a safe haven because in this delusional state we don’t have to deal with the questions.
Questions with no answers!
Then I hear God whisper – my ways are past finding out! Trust ME!
“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “- Romans 11:33
Yet, I still wonder! You know the questions! If we are honest, we’ve all faced them.
Why did this happen? Why didn’t I see it, prepare or plan for it?
Where was I? Where were You?
Who caused it? Who is to blame? Am I to blame?
What is the reason? Is there a reason? Why didn’t I foresee it?
When did it first begin, happen?
How did this happen? How did I fail? Did I fail? How could you?
Shame silences! When it does, it announces something profound and that something is what is wrong with you!
Falling short in our own eyes, in the eyes of others, people pleasing or attempting to live up to a standard that no one can, guilt has its way, it ultimately condemns leaving its victim isolated in shame – giving attention to an audience of one, shouting no mercy and weeping in pain!
Grief, it walks in and pours into the soul with a deafening sadness. While paralyzing and startling, this uncomfortable new reality, its consequence is an unwelcome loss. Dreams once held within a desired reach are now a dream shattered. It becomes a different kind of grief. You not only grieve what was lost, but what never was and what feels like will never be.
Grief can lead to thoughts and feelings of guilt, then guilt can lead to shame and condemnation.
We need to grieve. Jesus grieved and in the midst of loss, he didn’t link it, the loss, to shame and condemnation.
By being perfectly connected to his Father’s heart, Jesus’ identity was secure leaving no room for shame or condemnation!
This is why it is so important to take every thought captive, align and stand firm in the truth revealed in God’s word.
“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” – 2 Corinthians 10:4-6
When we loose sight of God, succumb to the what the world determines as valuable, a worthy goal instead of Him, we substitute our true identity (in Christ) giving allegiance to a false god (worldly standard) that says: your performance, status and reputation (in the community, world), your success in a job and in raising family is what determines your value and success as a person!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” – Hebrews 12:1-3
When I dreamed of having a family, I did not see, expect or even was prepared for the years ahead that would present waves in disappointment and frustration as part of the plan. I didn’t expect to struggle with seasons of hopelessness, bitterness, anger, emotional and spiritual weariness! My tendency and natural bent was a family seen through rose-colored glasses. All things work for good, right!
Exhaustion came from fighting to hold on to a false hope!
The fight, it vicious cycle in moving three steps forward with hope, encouragement, things seen; then falling flat on my face several steps backward reeling in frustration, shame, despair within the daunting reality of things not seen is exhausting.
Suddenly you are reminded once again of your failure when you are drawn into numerous conversations and appointments with people who appear and quite often successfully done what you feel you have not! It all screams unfair.
Church, though supportive, doesn’t always feel safe or an acceptable place to be broken! If you’ve had problems with a prodigal child, the expectation and success of our children often mirror more closely to the standards of the world rather than our identity in Christ. Sadly, more often than not, parents in these situations feel persecuted, been labeled, seen and treated as spiritual lepers. Often an unspoken message proclaimed: if your children don’t measure up by the ‘christian standard’ validating success, once again, you are seen as the problem. Not to say parents can’t be part of the problem, but in most cases, its the choice of a rebellion against God independent of parental influence. The sad message to parents of prodigals: if your children don’t follow the LORD, then you as a parent have failed! It’s as if your Christian testimony doesn’t matter unless your children validate it by their own decision to follow Christ!
So many parents struggle with prodigals! Isn’t it time for a change, time to come alongside with comfort instead in actions, words that promote disgrace, shame and condemnation! It’s a form of bullying in the church that needs to stop!
For those of you who are suffering, find peace in the LOVE of Christ, come forth out of your silence and be set free, be a voice and know you are not alone. Let us struggle together, accept, walk in our true identity, embrace and fully know that nothing is wrong, defective within us because we have a prodigal. That nothing can separate us from the love of God freely given in Christ Jesus!
I’m a fellow sojourner, and continue to mourn loss, lack understanding of the full picture.
Yet, with that said, I’m trusting in the ONE who knows, sees all, for the unseen to one day be seen – El ROI Reigns!
Parable of the Prodigal Son: Luke 15:11-32
And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’But the father said to his servants,‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. – Proverbs 13:12