This past Saturday, my grandfather arrived in Heaven at the age of 82, able to rest in the home that had been planned for him since long before his birth. And it has had me think a lot about how we view ourselves and how God views us.
When I think of Norman Davis, I see the grandpa who took me to the San Diego Zoo and watched baseball and basketball and any and every other sport that was televised. I think about the copious amounts of Hostess products he ate, and how he would take all the vegetables out of his food, even if they were lathered in sauce.
Every time I saw him he would ask me, “So Andrea, you got a boy?” and every time I would have to say “Nah Gramps, not right now” and he was tell me that it was ok because none of them were good enough anyway.
When I think about my grandpa, I think about the times when I was sad, and how I could always sit next to him while he watched golf or some other heinously boring sport, and we would just sit in comfortable silence.
When I think of my grandpa, I remember all the corny and politically incorrect jokes he would teach my brother and I, and I still find myself telling them to people and laughing, even years later.
And when I think of my grandpa, I think of how he raised 4 unique children, and was a grandpa to six intelligent, good-looking grandchildren.
But my grandfather didn't see himself this way.
He saw himself as the boy who had started smoking at the age of 12, as the man who began to self-medicate and soothe his soul with alcohol, as the man who gambled away his family’s money. He saw a man who was unforgivable, who could never be redeemed.
He attempted to atone for these things in the ways that only a broken person can. But, as we all know, we continually fall short and can never repay those debts on our own.
He may have seen only his own brokenness, but I know that God saw so much more.
My grandpa was a believer. He knew that Jesus was real and that He had given His life to save the world. But he struggled with the same gut wrenching feeling that many of us, including myself, have felt: That God’s grace doesn't extend to our shame, to our filth.
Shame is the Devil’s hiding place, and his strongest foothold. Shame makes us feel so completely insignificant, and yet completely exposed.
When we deny ourselves God’s love and mercy, when we pass over that gift because we “aren’t clean enough” or “will do it when we aren't so sinful”, we are feeding Shame.
It’s amazing how intrusive Shame really is, and the burden it puts on our shoulders.
It’s a backpack that keeps getting heavier and heavier, but we never ask for help because we think we deserve the pain. We think that our wrongdoings and our sin are worth the punishment, and that we don't deserve to be happy because of the things we have done.
I think this is how my grandpa felt until very recently.
I remember visiting him when he was still able to speak, and he told my mother that he was “Sorry [he] had to burden us with this”. He was sorry that he was sick, sorry that someone had to care for him, because he wasn’t even sure if he deserved that.
That is Shame. Shame wanted my grandpa alone, broken, hating himself.
But God is so much stronger than Shame. Shame is nothing compared to the vastness of God’s grace and mercy.
Prayer was powerful to my grandpa. He responded to it, even when he couldn’t open his eyes or move. And it was through prayer over the past months that God was able to pull my grandpa out of the hole that Shame had dug for him. He was able to accept that grace, and the freedom that comes with knowing that grace extended to even him. And he could rest.
I guess what I’m hoping that you will get out of this blog post is that you are not unsavable. You are not unlovable. You can be forgiven and completely redeemed and fully loved. And you can do it now. You can live the rest of your life in God’s mercy, and enjoy that freedom that only Christ brings. You can do it now.
God sees you as your wholly forgiven self. Don't let Shame’s distorted mirror change your reflection.
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.