Last week, I wrote about a Moth podcast that impacted me: the story of a young woman wrongfully convicted of a crime she did not commit and sentenced to 10-20 years in prison. What struck me about her story was the shame she carried for something she did not do and yet she was “branded” in the way others viewed her and the way she viewed herself. (If you have not read Parts 1 and 2, please do.) In a recent series taught by my pastor, we witnessed someone tell a freedom story every week. Freedom from one thing or another that had kept them enslaved to the past. One common theme throughout was the shame that accompanied what they went through before they learned to walk in the freedom Christ had given them. These stories and this podcast, as well as my own experiences with the reality of shame in my past, prompted this series of blogs…
In the podcast story, this young woman, moved to California and started a new life with a new name, Marie. Every time she would get close to people and let down her guard and perhaps tell a part of her hidden story, she felt like she was endangered and had to move on. On the run, moving from place to place, she eventually met the man who would be her husband and with whom she would have 3 children. The next years were happier—a new identity and a new life. The only problem was that she was forever looking over her shoulder and there was never the comfort that the past was gone, erased, exonerated. She had been wrongfully convicted of a crime she did not commit and yet she had committed a crime when she escaped from prison. Mixed truths and untruths messed with her mind. Let me stop there….
I’ve mentioned before the wily whispering lies of shame. Oily, slick, sliding in between our thoughts and corrupting our thinking. Whatever wrongs we have committed (and we have all committed some–Romans 3:23)–we have the option to be released from the penalty of those wrongs. When a person recognizes they have committed wrongs against a God who loves them and further recognizes that these wrongs are separating them from a relationship with God, they are in a position to be set free. Recognizing and agreeing about wrongs committed is not enough…that is not enough to bring freedom. They must be willing to turn away from their wrongdoing and choose instead to follow the teaching of God which He has written down for us in the Bible. Part of this teaching is that wrongful acts, sin, require a penalty just like laws broken require a penalty. Sin’s penalty is death and separation from God forever (Romans 6:23). God provided a way for the penalty to be paid for us. That way was through sending a substitute to die in our place, His Son, Jesus. That is why Jesus can say “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6).
When you believe that Jesus is God’s Son and that He paid the penalty for YOU personally, you have taken a first step toward freedom. You were in a position to be free and now you’ve taken a first step. Agreeing and believing His death was for you is the beginning of a life-long journey WITH Jesus. When you believe that Jesus is YOUR Savior, that He died a substitutionary death for YOU, that without Him and what He has done for YOU personally you would be forever chained to a messed up life with no hope…when you believe this, you can believe that He meant what He said: your old life is gone and a new life has begun.
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT)
The woman in this podcast story started a new life with a new name. She lived as if she were free but always knowing that she was not. Her past could eventually catch up with her and her true identity be revealed. All those years with an assumed life, she lived with the shame of her past…this shame was now not only from being wrongly convicted but from escaping prison and knowing she could be caught at any time and forced to face what she had done. This shame, this heavy weight she carried, began as a wrong committed against her and became shame she carried over a wrong she had committed. Either way, she carried it until it caught up with her.
A new life in Jesus Christ, a new identity through a relationship with Him, can NEVER be exposed as fraud or taken away from you. It is a permanent swap. His life for yours. His life was perfect, no flaws or wrongs, nothing to feel shame over. Shame will still whisper in your ears even when you are a Christ-follower but you have the Truth: you are not the old person any more. You are a new person with a new identity in Jesus Christ that has been forever forgiven and set free from the wrongs you have committed as well as the wrongs that have been committed against you. No more looking over your shoulder. No more fear of rejection. No more hopelessness. THAT is why He came. THAT is why we celebrate Easter. He conquered all of this for us. If you do not have this type of relationship with Him, please send me a message on the contact form of this website and I would love to visit with you. If you do have a relationship with Jesus but you battle with shame, you do not have to. Truth and untruth is getting mixed up for you. Please feel free to send me a message on the contact page of this website and I will pray for you.
There is HOPE. A new life…a new identity…freedom forever from the past. I am grateful beyond words that I have a new life and a new identity. I am not held hostage forever by my past! Easter is coming!
NB: To hear the podcast that prompted this post, go to http://themoth.org/posts/stories/a-tale-of-two-lives