True Freedom

We have freedom now, because Christ made us free. So stand strong. Do not change and go back into the slavery of the law.
(Galatians 5:1 NCV)

Have you ever accomplished something good and felt embarrassed about it, even though others around you thought you did great and congratulated you? That’s what recently happened to me.

My pastor, Jim Holt, invited me to talk with him about my book, Songs of Joy in the Valley of Tears. He planned on 30 minutes of sharing, but I was so excited I went far over the time limit. Secondly, what was designed to be a dialogue became more of a monologue. Neither of those things was huge problems for Jim. The Hope Chat would be edited before it went online. Jim said to me, “You did great!” (Here it is) Yet, the next day I woke up feeling terrible. So embarrassed.

“Jesus,” I prayed, “What is the problem? Why do I feel so terrible?” As I listened quietly for some insight, the above Scripture verse popped up in my mind. I recognized the terrible feeling as a “shame attack”. I had tuned in to my old way of unhealthy thinking in which perfectionism and denial of certain emotions were rules for successful living.
So my not-completely-transformed conscience, still functioning under law instead of grace, punished me.

According to my old rules (laws) of living it was not okay to admit to feelings of grief, loneliness, or anger. Especially anger. I talk about all of these emotions in my book on grief and mentioned them in my chat with Jim. According to my old rules of living, I broke a “don’t talk about this” rule, so I must be punished. (Shaming ourselves is a form of self-punishment.)

Thankfully, after my conversation with Jesus, the shame feeling left. Unhealthy ways of thinking cannot hang around long when confronted by the truth-seeing eyes and grace-filled, loving arms of Jesus.

If you have been taught to believe you must hide your feelings of loneliness, anger, and grief, it may be hard to believe otherwise. Spend some talking to Jesus about them. He can free you from the heavy load of shame . . . the need to look good, be perfect, and hide your grief.

Strength to Hang on a Little Longer

The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.
(Romans 8:11 NLT)

On April 1, 2020, I wrote in my diary that social distancing and other restrictions to prevent the pandemic from spreading would be extended for 30 days. Along with most people, I never imagined the massive spread of disease and loss of life that would occur in the year ahead. In the eyes, speech, and movements of those around me, I see and hear signs of weariness. Can we find the strength to “hang on a little longer” as many health care workers urge us to do?
I believe we can.

On this Easter weekend, I find renewed comfort and hope for strength in the promises of Scripture, such as the one quoted above. You can find that verse and the following poem on pages 190 and 191 of my book, Songs of Joy in the Valley of Tears

God's Promise of Strength

God will strengthen my mortal body;
That's the word I heard him say.

God will strengthen my mortal body:
That's the one I possess, today.

God will strengthen my mortal body.
It may be old, but it's not decayed.

God will strengthen my mortal body,
If from wisdom I don't stray.

God will strengthen my mortal body.
I will trust him and obey.

God will strengthen my mortal body;
That's the promise he made to me.

God will strengthen my mortal body
And raise it up on resurrection day.

Jane Ault