Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Confessions: Re-Learning Our Story

Being prayed for after we lost our church, filled with shame

Over some delicious Indian food in Fresno, California, my husband and I reminisced about how we had gotten to this place, this season of life, and where the Lord was leading us. In between bites of naan and butter chicken a great confusion arose concerning the details of most of our most recent major life events.  We puzzled over why we were not able to simply remember but found ourselves seeing each incident in a while new light.

It may be because we are going through a program called Pastoral Renewal at Link Care Center, a place many missionaries have found hope, healing, and guidance as well as encouragement and discernment. As we go through the program clarity comes bit by bit as we process our experiences leading up to and in Cambodia. Themes rise to the forefront as we consider each stage of our ministry. The largest theme by far that we have discovered is shame.

We are going through a class based on the book Wounded by Shame, Healed by Grace. Shame and guilt, it seems, are very different bedfellows:
  • Guilt is based on an action that we can identify and therefore seek forgiveness for.
  • Shame is based on the belief that something is just "wrong with us."

For example, I have felt intense shame over the fact we have only one profession of faith from a Cambodian over the course of six years of ministry. It hurts to even type out those words. The shame burns inside me, and I find myself seeking excuse after excuse. Deep down, however, I believe it is just my fault. There is something wrong with me, and now everyone knows it and can see it for themselves. 

our "one"
Greg McKenzie, at the Global Missions Experience this year, shook me awake to the shame living in my heart. In front of hundreds of people, he talked about the church that had rejected sending him to the mission field. Having had one church who decided not to send us and one church who stopped supporting us, I thought it was clear to everyone we were somehow unworthy. How in the world could this man admit this in front of people?! Everyone will know!

"Know what?" something questioned inside me as I considered his words.

 I realized there was nothing to know except that the church didn't want to support him. He had nothing to apologize for, nothing to hide. There was nothing wrong with him.

I have nothing to confess as to why our ministry does not have more visible fruit. It is not the result of any sin. The story is not "and so they failed because of Casey's inherent inability to do anything right and eventually even the Lord was not pleased with them." My story is "God sent a human, weak but redeemed, and asked her to be obedient. And she was." I'm guessing, if you allow the Lord to take your shame, your story will be the same.

As I delve into re-learning our story without shame coloring each event, I find it so much easier to see Christ and His work. I believe our shame was gone at the cross - we are now a new creation. I encourage you to re-learn your story, fight through those feelings of shame, and see what the Lord has done!

1 Pet 2:6 (Wey) For it is contained in Scripture, "See, I am placing on Mount Zion a Cornerstone, chosen, and held in honour, and he whose faith rests on Him shall never have reason to feel ashamed."

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