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We have all been there at one time or another.  Tied around our necks like my dog’s cone of shame after a veterinarian procedure, we couldn’t get free from it.

The cone was supposed to keep him from reinjuring his wound, but his sad, old face made me hurt for him.  As a dog, he just couldn’t understand what he had done to earn such a large piece of plastic around his neck.

After crashing into our legs, the walls, fireplace, and door frames with his newly-acquired neckpiece, the poor pooch finally gave in and just crashed on the floor, head in cone, resigned to wearing the thing for a week.  It was difficult for him to figure out how to maneuver the cone around his food and water bowls but finally our doggie worked things out for himself and was able to eat and drink with some effort on his part.

After a couple of days of watching the poor guy, I noticed that all of his doggie-world was funneled and encapsulated in his cone.  He couldn’t hear us very well if we were behind him and our voices weren’t funneled into his new range of hearing.  He couldn’t see very well either since his peripheral vision was now blocked by a huge sheet of plastic.  We nearly had to be in his “cone zone” to get his attention.

And sadly, he looked ashamed of himself and didn’t carry his head held high, nor did he walk with his usual prance nor did he try to play.  He felt trapped and shut off.

Shame.

Those feelings of regret and guilt and sadness.

Because of our wrong choices or actions.

It stinks.  It hurts.

It blocks.  It distorts.

Like me, have you ever felt deep regret, guilt, and sadness for something you did or said that you wish you had the ability to turn back time for one hour and undo that act or take back those words?

Do you feel blocked and caught in the “cone zone” in your cone of shame?  Is the thing getting too heavy for your neck to bear?

Do you feel stuck?  Does everything seem to be funneled into your world through that blasted shame?

Is your sight and hearing distorted from the shame blocking your eyes and ears that are desperately needed to perceive your world and those in it?

I’ve been there and done that.  For far too long I might add.

I know the feelings of shame that you might be experiencing now.

But, I also know the freedom from shame that you can have too!

Ready for me to get to the good part?

Well, first, if we were sitting across from each other, I would get in your face, in your “cone zone,” so you could see and hear what I need to say.

Then, I would tell you my story of shame and how I got free from that heavy weight around my neck.

In a nutshell it would go something like this…..

“All of us have done some really regrettable things in life.  I did or said this: _________________.  And the results were hurtful and damaging to ________________.  I couldn’t go back and undo my mistake and I felt like I deserved to be shamed, to wear shame, to live in shame for a very long time.  Like my dog’s plastic cone, shame was wrapped around my neck and nearly choked the life and love and relationships right out of me.  All I saw and heard was funneled into that horrible cone and then all that came out of me in my reactions and actions were funneled back out of that cone of shame.  It wasn’t pretty.  I was miserable.

Until one day, I heard a bit of truth.  Someone spoke directly into my face and into my shame and I got a glimpse of what I needed to see and hear.  It went something like this:  ‘You don’t have to live in shame.  You don’t have to stay in the past and relive your mistakes each day.  Your mistakes don’t have to define you.  You can take steps to walk out of your past into a new future, free of shame and regret.  You can’t change the past, but you can do something about your future.’

See, Jesus paid the great price for my sin, your sin.  We just celebrated His death, burial, and resurrection this weekend.  He took all the world’s sin, past, present, and future, and chose to die in our place so we don’t have to tote it around any longer.  We cannot change how those we hurt will ever treat us or see us or love us.  But we can change how we walk out the rest of our days, free from the past and shame of our mistakes, or forever burdened by them.”

Yes, that’s what I would say to you.

A beautiful summary of what happens when we decide to trade that ill-fitting cone of shame for freedom can be found in Romans 10:9-11 in The Message:

It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—“Jesus is my Master”—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!”

Another translation says:

  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.  For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”  (Romans 10:10-11, ESV)

It really is that simple.  Believe.  God sent Jesus to pay the great price for our mistakes, to heal us, and redeem us from sin.

I don’t expect others to forgive my wrongs, but I know God does.  I can only ask for the forgiveness of the ones I have hurt and pray that they choose to forgive me.  But I CAN be free from the shame of my mistakes, regardless of how others choose to handle the pain I inflicted upon them.

See, shame is not a badge, or in this case, a cone we must wear like in the story The Scarlett Letter.  The poor lady was stuck with wearing a giant red A on her dress because of her adultery.  We believe we must wear a giant plastic cone of shame as penance for our wrong-doings.  When we ask for and receive forgiveness, we can be free from the shame and that is NOT dependent on another person’s response or reaction to our past mistakes. 

Releasing ourselves from the shame of our mistakes does NOT belittle or down-play our mistakes!  Never let anyone tell you this lie.  People can make us believe we NEED TO or MUST wear shame like a prison number or scarlett letter or cone of shame, but we don’t.  Choosing to live free from the shame of our sin simply frees us from the regret and weight of our mistakes, while REPENTANCE releases us from our mistakes. 

It takes truth and time and constant reminding that shame isn’t necessary.  Repentance and a changed life is.

I don’t ever want to live trapped in the cone of shame.  I want to live free and walking in everything being set right between me and God!

How about you???  Are you ready to live a life free from shame??

If you have any questions or comments on this subject, please email me at truloveswords@gmail.com and I will do my best to answer them.

 

 

 

 

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