Valerie is a 42-year-old, single, Reformed Christian lady who lives in Baltimore. She doesn't remember a time
before she knew and loved Jesus, but she does remember accepting John Calvin into her heart in March of 2000.
Valerie is a member of Christ Reformed Evangelical Church in Annapolis.
Though her career aspiration is to be a housewife, Valerie has not yet found anyone suitable who wishes to hire
her for employment in that field (or, more properly, anyone suitable has not found her), so in the meantime she
earns her daily bread working in communications -- editing, writing, print design and website management.
Shame and Grace
Christians can live one of two ways: They can live in shame, defining themselves by their sin or others sin against them, or they can live in grace, the anti-shame, defining themselves by Christ's righteousness. The objective reality for those in Christ is that they are defined by His righteousness, but too often their self-understanding is based in something else. (Of course those who aren't in Christ really are defined by their sin, but let's leave them out of the picture for now.)
I don't mean to say, of course, that Christians aren't still sinful. Of course we are, and if you think otherwise, let me help you name your first clear sin: self-delusion. But in the stark black-and-white reality of sheep and goats, God looks at us and sees holiness.
If you are in Christ, it is unbelief to define yourself by your sin or others' sin against you and it is sin to act on that unbelief.
Here's the sort of picture that started me thinking along these paths: If someone has been abused, abandoned, neglected, or in some other way treated unjustly, it is very, very easy for his self-identity to be wrapped up in those things. They are powerful, so he thinks they are gods, and he worships them and lets them define him. It's spiritual Stockholm syndrome. He says, consciously or unconsciously, I am worthless, unlovable, powerless, etc. I have nothing, and therefore I have nothing to give, so I will go bury my one nothing talent in the dirt where it belongs...where I belong. I will not reach out to others, because they won't want me; I would just be a nuisance to them; they would just reject me, too. Nothing I do is of worth, so it doesn't matter if I do nothing...in fact, it's probably better that way. When God said, "Thou shalt love," He clearly couldn't have talking to me. And so the thoughts go on and on in a suicidal spiral of self-pity, morbid introspection, and all manner of other sin.
Again the answer is in glorifying and thanking God. It is in believing Him -- whatever He says. It is in believing the implications of every command -- that they are for each of us and that He wouldn't ask anyone to do anything He hasn't empowered him to do.
The psychobabblers want us to think the answer is in self-esteem, self-confidence, and the like. But the answer is in esteeming God, in trusting His esteem -- His estimate -- of us, and in living with confidence in Him (which is what faith is) shaping every thought, word and deed.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5:40 PM