He Will Make Us Radiant
“Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered in shame.” (Psalm 34:5)
Of the painful emotions I’ve felt in my life, shame is one of the most dangerous. The thing about shame is that it attacks deep within us, takes root, and grows like an ugly parasite. When shame snakes its way into our hearts, it pummels us with untruths. Shame speaks to us in ways that we would never allow others to, and we believe it. “Everyone else has it together, but you… you are unworthy. You are defective. You are not enough.”
These words we tell ourselves cause us to bury our shortcomings and try to hide our sins from the eyes of others. If no one finds out about this, then they won’t know how sinful, or selfish, or weak, or inadequate I really am. We work harder on painting a pretty picture of ourselves to present to the world and push the shame further and further within.
The blueprint I created for my life at a young age was a symptom of my perfectionism; I would graduate from a great college, go off and serve the world for a few years, come home to find success in my career, walk down the aisle in the perfect wedding, and eventually raise a perfect family. As I hit bumps in the road in my attempt to walk this impossibly perfect path, I just swallowed each feeling of shame, pushed it down deeper inside, and hoped it was buried deep enough that no one else would notice. It wasn’t until I discovered I was expecting a baby at age 26 that my plan fell apart completely.
As my belly began to swell, the sin of being unmarried and pregnant became a source of shame that I could not hide. I had no choice but to expose all of my fears—the fear of disappointing my father, the fear that everyone would think less of me, the fear of making my sin public, the fear that everyone would be staring at me on my wedding day thinking, “Oh, that’s why they’re getting married so quickly!” I had no choice but to look to God for forgiveness and cling to Him for comfort in what was the scariest nine months of my life.
And then she came—my sweet baby girl. When she came into the world, I looked into her big, brown, newborn eyes and knew that God’s plan was so much more beautiful than mine. Eight years later, she has grown up to be a beautiful, fearless, and kind little lady. She writes little notes for her younger brother’s lunchbox on days when I forget. The last one I found said, “You are not just my brother, but my best friend. I love you.” She invites other kids to play when they are alone on the playground. The joy on her face when she dances is infectious, and you can’t help but smile when you watch her perform. She loves Jesus and writes little prayers on sticky notes to hang on her mirror. The terrible, sinking shame I felt when I saw that shocking positive result on a pregnancy test has turned into the greatest blessing of my life.
What if we treated all of the situations that cause us shame in our lives like this? If we expose ourselves and let our shame run free? If we speak the truth, our shame is not able to take root, and as we work through our flaws and our pain, we will discover that we are not alone and that every imperfection can blossom into a rich blessing from God. As we confess our sins to Him and lean on Him in our scariest and most difficult moments, He will make us radiant, and our faces will never again be covered in shame. God will tell us instead, “You are worthy. You are forgiven. You are enough. You are loved.”