"Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."
A year and a half ago, I spent about eight months meeting with a group of five women for a book study. What brought us together wasn’t existing friendships, similar stages of life, or living in close proximity, but our brokenness and our need for healing. There was a brokenness in each of our pasts that was haunting us and keeping us from finding freedom in our present.
At one point during the study, we were encouraged to share our stories of pain and heartache, ways we had been hurt and ways we had hurt others. Through this process, we discovered three commonalities experienced among the group. The first was a deep fear of the vulnerability that came with exposing the brokenness that was hiding deep inside our hearts; for most of us, these stories had been hidden for many years. Second, while all of us had shared bits and pieces of our stories with others throughout the years, we each realized that there was at least one aspect of our story that we had never spoken out loud. Third, and the most significant realization for us, was that when we shared our stories, we looked out at the faces of the other women and found looks of acceptance, empathy, compassion, and love. We cried with each other—for the pain that had been endured, and the shame that was still so present.
Those fears of being exposed, judged, and having more shame heaped on our heads after sharing our stories were unfounded. As we worked through our study together, it became clear how much we needed healing, and also how willing and able our Lord is to provide that healing for us. This time together, as all of life, was a journey. At the end of our time together we hadn’t “arrived” at a place of total and complete healing. For some, there was but a faint, yet encouraging, light at the end of the long, dark tunnel. For others, the sun seemed to be shining brightly on these areas of our lives for the first time. It looked different for everyone, but true growth took place as we shared the shame we felt with each other, the pain of the brokenness in our lives, and as we looked at each other with love and acceptance.
What we saw in the eyes of the other women was a mere shadow of the love and acceptance that we receive from Jesus Christ. We can trust that Jesus understands our shame. He took on one of the most brutal and shameful modes of death. He bore the weight of all of our brokenness. He rose again, conquering the brokenness and shattering the hold that shame has on our souls. He is the Way to wholeness and healing.
(Written by Jennifer Murphy)