“Ugh,” I thought to myself. “That’s going to leave a mark.”
In my family, I’m known for performing the craziest of mishaps. Even in childhood, I was the kid that dropped this, cut that, and spilled the other thing. Often.
Alas, this clumsy-oriented behavior followed me into adulthood. I have scars from knife and scissor cuts, burn marks from cookie sheets and oven shelves, and today, a Bundt pan.
Yep. A Bundt pan.
As I was flipping the Bundt pan over my head to encourage the cinnamon cake inside to descend upon a plate, the pan slipped from my oven-mitt-covered grip. Before I could protect myself, the pan slid very near my collar bone and seared my skin. Thankfully, the cake landed on the plate – for the most part.
So, how many people do you know who can lay claim to such an incredible feat?
Not many, I bet!
Gratefully, I don’t need to make a trek to the doctor’s office and explain the reddening mark around my collar bone. I’ve cooled and iced the area and applied a layer of cortisone cream. I’m sure there will be a residual mark at some point. However, I can take care of this lovely, embarrassing wound and save myself from recanting this crazy story.
There are some stories we would prefer to be left untold – for ego’s sake – aren’t there?
Tales of poor decisions, anecdotal mishaps, and chronicles of mistakes and improprieties are not accounts we desire to share with others. If the story wounded us, scarred us, and left a mark in any way, and if we have not taken steps to reframe the event or find redemption in that story, there is no doubt that we will keep the harmful tale in the dark recesses of our mind and life. This self-protective strategy only works for so long, though. When something happens that reminds us of this past pain, we feel the embarrassment, the hurt, the rejection, the bitterness, and the shame all over again. The cycle of shame prohibits us from seeking a redemption course of action. We are imprisoned in the story-line of encircling hurt.
What if it didn’t need to be this way?
What if we could step out of the cycle of shame and stop replaying our debilitating stories of hurt and loss and experience love, joy and freedom?
What if there could be a different story to tell?
There is a step John and I take with our kids and with each other when bad things happen in our lives. When the time comes to reflect upon the events of the troubling story, we ask this question, “Where do we see Jesus in this story?”
John and I hold a deep conviction.
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is present in our lives at all times – even when a hot Bundt pan is flung near a collar bone.
So, where do you I perceive Jesus in this particular, skin-searing moment?
For me, I believe He was by my side.
Did Jesus stop the pan from reaching my skin or from burning me?
However, by being near me, caring for me, and praying for me, I believe His presence prevented me from doing something I have often done in the past. He stopped me from saying, “Heather, you stupid idiot! What a crazy fool you were to hurt yourself – again!!! You are such a klutz!!! How could you allow yourself to be sooooo distracted?!!!”
Jesus stopped me from attacking and shaming myself.
I didn’t do it.
Jesus knows I could have.
I’ve dropped more things, burned myself more times, and cut myself so often that I have lost count! But, I’m not going to let my accident-prone behavior define me.
Jesus knows I could have.
I am very capable of telling myself that I am not good enough, not smart enough, not graceful enough, not beautiful enough, not thin enough, not careful enough and not yadayadayada enough over and over and over again. Because I’ve done it. There was a time that I let myself know how disappointed I was in myself when I didn’t perform as expected.
We do that to ourselves. Don’t we?
We become so influenced by the world around us or so concerned about living up to a certain ideal or expectation or so accustomed to telling ourselves lies and untruths about ourselves, that we live out a circular story of reproach, dissatisfaction, and self-contempt.
Like I shared, it doesn’t have to be that way.
What if we could frame our lives in such a way that our view of self is transformed with love?
A long, long, long time ago, Paul wrote a letter to the Thessalonian Church. He wrote a letter of encouragement to a group that was experiencing severe persecution and suffering due to their faith choice – to believe and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
One of the phrases in Paul’s letter goes like this:
For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that He has chosen you….
New International Version, 1 Thessalonians 1: 4a
This note of assurance underscored three important truths in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
First, ‘for we know’ highlighted certainty and confidence. Paul, Silas, and Timothy, men who had spent considerable time with this Thessalonian group and knew them well, held no doubt of this group’s value and worth to their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Second, ‘brothers and sisters loved by God’ emphasized how beloved they were to God. Paul desired to assure this community of believers that they were loved dearly and that their God was well pleased with them – no matter what was going on in their lives at the time. This intimate and attentive love of God was sure.
Third, ‘that He has chosen you’ belied the fact that they had been elected to the Kingdom of Christ through the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ Himself.
These are three incredibly powerful, soul affirming words for not only the Thessalonian Community of Believers but for us as well!
In Christ, we are known.
In Christ, we are loved.
In Christ, we are chosen.
There is no space in any of these descriptions for put-downs, personal slanders, shame, or degradation.
As people of Christ, we are identified as His known, beloved, chosen people.
When we are met with difficulty – whether self-inflicted or an outside attack – we have the power to combat these challenges with truth!
When we experience guilt, doubt, and failure, we remember that we are intimately known by God. We can release that pain and hurt into His care.
He is with us – to support, to care, to strengthen and to guide us forward.
When an encircling shame story attempts to ensnare, we can rest in the assurance that we are loved by God.
His love empowers us to recount a different story – one of hope and redemption.
When we are left disappointed, alone, and abandoned, we remember we are chosen by God.
Embracing this truth has a tremendous effect upon both heart and life as we identify ourselves with Jesus Christ and take hold of His mercy and grace.
So how does this work in our day-to-day life?
Instead of paying attention to a Bundt pan that calls to mind a lifetime of scrapes, cuts, burns, clumsiness, distraction, and shame, I choose to embrace my life in Christ as known, loved, and chosen!
Sure, I got burned. The Bundt pan left a mark and a scar. Yet, when I look at myself in the mirror, that mark isn’t what draws my attention or concern. In fact, I forget about it and, ignore it. My reflection in the mirror is centered upon something more life-giving and inspiring. I see a person who is known, loved, and chosen by God through the power, grace, and mercy of Jesus Christ.
And Friends, this is how you are viewed in God’s eyes as well!
You are known.
You are loved.
You are chosen.
Isn’t that a far better and far more redeeming story to tell about yourself?
So, the next time you are hit with a Bundt pan that comes flying out of nowhere, beware!
Don’t let it distract you from this important truth about who you are in Christ – even if you blow it big-time – this mistake, error of conscience, distraction, or shame story is not who you are!
You are known.
You are loved.
You are chosen.