The Clothing of Shame…and How to Shed It.
The day had been rough. A mom brooding in anger over all the messes she had to clean up after the kids left for school….messes that were technically their responsibility. While rearranging schedules in order to tend to the disaster zones, she seethed at kids and blamed herself for not having trained well enough, or stayed consistent enough or appealed through rewards enough to teach these children to clean up after themselves.
The afternoon brought exhausted from the little life growing within her womb. Children behind on homework.
Children not listening for the 100th time.
Neighbrohood children scurrying in and out the front door.
Children needing to be picked up from piano lessons.
Children getting apples out of the fridge.
and leaving them.
around the house.
It was the perfect storm. Perfect for mom to clench teethe, try harder, and force submission and order through the most likeliest of means…
Which of course, seems like the only viable option in the heat of the moment, but manages to plummet the kids into bitterness…and their mother into shame and self-condemnation.
Which sours the whole evening as she vacillated from keeping her cool and exploding once more over bickering, or attitudes, or neglect of evening chores. Instead of putting on love (Colossians 3:14), or the robe of (Jesus’) righteousness (Isaiah 61:10), or the garment of praise (Isaiah 61:3), that angry and I-blew-it-again mother slips on the dark, prickly covering of- shame. Wearing the cumbersome garb, the self-condemning voice clouds her ears with “See? You’re a failure as a mother. You are destroying your own children!” The cloak is heavy and dense and it pricks every subsequent interaction with these young human beings who have now become reminders of her failure rather than reminders of her blessings from God.
The cloak is not easily shed, when the voice of the Gospel rhetoric is not rehearsed and the murky cloud of shame muffles its chorus. It hangs heavy, particularly when one believes it’s ones own job to shed it, and replace it with the truth known in head but distant to heart.
So the next morning , still feeling pummeled by the screaming battles and devoured by the shame and self-blamed, that mother slumps into chair and starts journaling. Not journaling out of the place she “should” be. But journalling out of the place she is in, in.that.moment. For the Living God who is Truth, can only show up in reality. Not ideals.
I can’t fix this. I can’t fix myself. I can’t fix these cycles of mutual misunderstanding, and selfishness and hurt in me and in my kids. I can’t slap a Bible verse on it or retrain all of my thought processes or be a better builder of our schedules so as to avoid all this. I can’t keep my cool when all my buttons are being pushed or make myself “put on love.” The only thing I can do is invite you into it all. Do YOUR work. I’m done trying.”
And under the auspices of a white flag of surrender, after relinquishing the job of the being the author and perfecter of her faith, and after yielding that job back to the One whose Lifeblood paid for it, a promise sets in, with crystal clear clarity.
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me (Jesus), because the Lord has anointed Me (Jesus) to bring good news to the poor; he has sent Me (Jesus) to bind up the brokenhearted…to give them the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit…I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God for he has clothed me (Jesus) with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness.” (Isaiah 61: 1, 3, 10)
Its really all about Jesus. He is the One anointed, sent, clothed. And He is the one that does the clothing of the brokenhearted and poor. Its a passive receiving of the Gospel clothes, not an action dependent upon one’s own performance.
Imagine the sigh of relief, when the passage did not say,
“The Spirit of the Lord God is given to you, because the Lord has appointed you to keep bringing good news to yourself. He has told you to ignore your own broken heart and bind up your kid’s hearts….and to always put the garment of praise on yourself instead of a faint spirit. Greatly rejoice in the Lord, Soul, exult in him because you are suppose to be clothing yourself with the garment of salvation. Cover yourself with the robe of righteousness.” (First Book of Pull-Yourself-Up-By-Your-Bootstraps 61:1,3,10)
and then the promise of the righteousness robing, instead of the shame clothing,
“And now a righteousness from God apart from the law (either God’s or self-created laws) has been made known….this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ (not in trying harder, or staying patient, or parenting perfectly) to all who believe…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by His grace through redemption that came (not by self effort, but…) by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:21-24
What a vaste dichotomy, I hold in my experience, and in my hands, as I read those words…
All have fallen short. short of the glory of God. Which would completely explain my attempts at good parenting or patience-keeping as…. utter failures.
All have fallen short…which is why the shame is experienced and the feelings of “I’m just not good enough”, sets in..
All have fallen short of the Glory of God….and the internal longings for glory, both in ourselves and in our situations, leave us lacking.
Unless we look into those Scriptures and see the secret of glory.
It is a passive glory-receiving, in and through and because of our failures.
And its not until we pause long enough from our own desperate re-dressing attempts, and allow Him to step in and remove our cloak of shame and replace it with His robe of righteousness,
that we see…
garment being placed upon us that leaves us free to move and live and love (our children) despite our failures.