Quincy has no shame. He will lick or scratch anything, anytime, anywhere, regardless of who is watching. And as I mentioned in a previous post this week, he has two major downfalls: getting into the trash and incessant barking, both of which he does pretty shamelessly and pretty frequently. It would be one thing if he barked at strangers; I might feel as though he was doing a great job to protect us and warn us of potential danger, however, he relentlessly barks/howls at anything and anyone who walks past our house, even if it is someone he is very familiar with. Annoying. Embarrassing. Frustrating. Loud. We have everything from lemon juice to a shock collar in hopes of getting it under control. No luck. Quincy remains shameless and we continue to look like pet owners who have done a terrible job training our dog. If I could explain to ever passer-by that I think he developed a brain injury when he fell out of our car when he was a puppy, that might help them understand his out-of-control, shameless behavior. But I don’t. I keep calling his name, hoping he might stop the madness and spare me the embarrassment.
And here comes another lesson from Quincy! Shameless.
Shame can be an awful emotion. It has the power to make us run, hide, lie, and cling to darkness. It has the power to keep us down and hold us back. It has the power to suffocate us, killing us little by little. It isolates us. Haunts us. And often defines us.
UNLESS. . . . we choose to come out of hiding and seek light. True Light.
See, shame either invites rebellion or repentance.
Shame invites rebellion when there is either pride in our hearts or the unwillingness to deal with the offense. When we stuff the feeling of shame into the deepest corner of our hearts, it creates such a callous that we can no longer deal. So we rebel. We rebel against ourselves. Our God. Another person. And life becomes a miserable mess, filled with darkness, secrets, bitterness, and anger.
But there is another option. Shame can lead to repentance and when it does, we can live openly, freely, and shamelessly. We serve a God who loves us with a steadfast kind of love (Psalm 103:8). There is nothing we could possibly do that would make Him not love us. He may discipline us, but He will never shame us. Why? He took our shame, all of our shame, and put it to death on the cross. He paid for it all. He’s freed us from it if we will simply believe.
When we go before him with our heads hanging low, he lifts them up. “No shame,” He reminds us!
“But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head” (Psalm 3:3, ESV).
“The LORD upholds all who are falling and raises us all who are bowed down” (Psalm 145:14, ESV).
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3, ESV).
If you could travel back in time, you could ask the woman who had committed adultery and was about to be stoned, until Jesus stepped in and spared her life with his words. She brought her shame before the Lord with a heart of repentance and she left that encounter forgiven and shameless (John 7:53-8:11).
If you could travel back in time, you could ask Peter, one of Jesus’s disciples who denied Him 3 times. He was reunited with Jesus, after He had risen and although scripture doesn’t say it, he took his shame before the Lord, was repentant, and experienced forgiveness and shamelessness. We are given a glimpse of Peter’s repentant heart immediately after the rooster crowed (Luke 22:62, John 21:15-19).
If you could travel back in time, you could ask Paul. He lived a life committed to the persecution of Christians before Jesus stepped in and called him to be on mission for spreading of the gospel message. Paul’s shame lead to repentance which resulted in forgiveness. After that, he was a force to reckon with. He wrote the majority of the New Testament and did amazing things for the LORD during the ladder portion of his life.
Only God can take our shame, wipe it clean, and call us shameless.
Perhaps my favorite parable that Jesus shared was the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32): In short, one of the two sons decided he wanted to leave the comforts of home and live life fully. He took his inheritance and lived recklessly, squandering the entire thing. When he realized that he had been foolish, shame came knocking. But shame, for him, encouraged repentance instead of further rebellion. With a humble heart, he headed back home and was met with an embrace from his father who eagerly welcomed him back and called for a celebration.
That is the God that we serve; A God who sees us as shameless and welcome. When we go before Him with a humble heart of repentance, a heart that is willing to be honest before Him, recognizing that we need Him to restore us and set us free from the bondage that shame can bring, we are welcomed with open arms and a full embrace. He desires for us to come back home to him and when we do, it is cause for celebration.
How about you? Are you in a place of rebellion or repentance? If you’re not sure, check your heart. If it’s pride-filled, you most likely are stuck in a form of rebellion. I urge you to humble yourself quickly and go before the LORD who will Him remind you that you are shameless in His eyes. If you are in a place of repentance, bask in the forgiveness that is freely given and know today that no matter what you’ve done or whatever has been done to you, you are seen as pure, lovely, holy, forgiven, and shameless.
As for Quincy, I have started using a new tactic for his barking issue. I used to prep him before allowing him to go outside by saying, “No barking, Quincy.” Lately, I have been encouraging him with these words: “Be a good boy, Quincy.” or “Good come, Quincy.” I am getting far better results when I use positive words instead of negative ones.
Let’s be thankful today that our God doesn’t look upon us and say speak over us with negative words: “No ______. No __________. No__________.” Words like these only lead to more shame. Instead, He encourages us by reminding us that we are good because of Him and only Him. All of the promises of God find their Yes in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 1:20). Forgiven? Yes! Shameless? Yes!