There’s a line I love and try to live. “Seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34.14b). But I’m a context-reader, and as I marinate in the whole psalm something else keeps demanding my attention:
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces are never covered with shame. (Psalm 34.4-5)
Shame—the sickening feeling that whispers, “I’m a bad person unworthy of love and acceptance”—infects me from the inside out. I wear my shame.
Until I remember I can’t wear shame and look Jesus in the eye at the same time. He shows shame for the sham it is. He uncovers my face.
When I drop my fears and failures in His lap and admit how small I feel, He answers. He ever so gently cups my chin in His hand and lifts my face up; everything else slips out of sight when I fix my eyes on Him. And the shame goes with it. I can’t hold Jesus’ gaze and still believe myself unworthy. It isn’t possible. His worthiness covers me.
Yet shame creeps back. It’s as pervasive as my fear of heights. I get nauseous and lightheaded. I feel faint. A wave of heat washes over me. I start to lose my balance. My heart races. My mouth goes dry. I end up plastered to a wall or curled up in a ball on the floor. My head knows I’m perfectly safe, but my body refuses to believe. It infuriates me.
But it doesn’t stop me. I still zip-line in rain forests and visit observation decks on the tallest buildings in the world. I step out into the freaky little see-through floored cube 1,353 feet up a skyscraper’s side. I just don’t go alone. When I start spinning I look into the face of a friend and am reminded I’m not falling.
And, when the feeling of shame floods in and I start reeling, one look into Jesus’ face says my shame isn’t me. My spiral straightens out. I uncurl from the emotional fetal position.
Peace—sought and mercifully found . . . again.