Uncovering from my shame blanket and relishing my robe of righteousness

I have been buried in emotion, and I've been seeing an emotion pro (otherwize known as a therapist) to help me dig out.  One thing that happens to me when I have deep feelings is that my brain gets hijacked.  I am overcome with feelings of rejection and I cannot think clearly.

We've identified a few triggers that send me into panic.  Anytime I perceive I'm being ignored, feel unwanted, or feel rejected, I believe that I am unsafe.  I am sent into flight mode, and I withdraw myself from the situation that is causing me stress.

My therapist has also told me that I have a shame blanket.  This means that almost every feeling I have has an element of shame linked to it.  I feel like I've done something wrong to cause the stress.  I've caused others to reject me.  I don't even think about it.  Whatever the feeling I'm having or feeling I perceive others have about me, I immediately feel:  it is my fault.

Just knowing I have a shame blanket gives me even more shame.  What is wrong with me?

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As I've been working towards healthier thinking, I can clearly see God working in my life.  This summer I decided to join a weekly, interdenominational Bible study called Community Bible Study.  The books of the Bible we are working through are not heavily read portions of Scripture.  We just got through studying Haggai and we are now working our way through Zachariah.  I would have never guessed that these books of the Bible would have had such an impact on my life, but they have.

Studying the prophetic visions in Zachariah was tough work mentally.  Trying to understand Bible prophecy is like sorting wet spaghetti, nothing feels firm or graspable.  In the midst of this study, I found something that felt as though it had been written directly for me.  Zachariah was describing one of the visions he had about their high priest Joshua.

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the Lord said to Satan, ‘The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?’ Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, ‘Remove the filthy garments from him.’ And to him he said, ‘Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.’ And I said, ‘Let them put a clean turban on his head.’ So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by.
— Zechariah 3:1-5 ESV

 

This vision has direct meaning to God's people at the time it was written. Joshua was a real person. He was actually the high priest of God's people who have left exile in Babylon and are back in Jerusalem working on rebuilding the temple.  

This vision also is a prophecy of the coming Messiah. It is a clear illustration of the atonement Jesus Christ would offer.

So when I say that these verses felt very personal to me, I am aware that they were written for His people then. But they also can be an encouragement for His people now.

The enemy loves my shame blanket. He loves that I feel guilt over every feeling that God created me to have. Feelings are not sin, but the enemy loves that I feel like every emotion gives me the shame and guilt that sinning would envoke.

Do you know who doesn't love my shame blanket?

Jesus.

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
— Hebrews 12:2 ESV

Jesus endured the cross.

Jesus despises shame.

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As I sat with my Bible study book, unconfidently trying to understand the book of Zechariah. A book written by a priest and prophet around 520 B.C., I was stunned to read this passage and feel how palpable God's love for me was in these words.

This man was standing before the Angel of the LORD, who many believe is Jesus in a temporary form. To his right is Satan, acting as an accuser or a prosecutor. He has a strong case for accusation because Joshua is clothed in filthy, excrament-smelling garments.

Joshua doesn't have to defend himself. He couldn't if he wanted to. He has no defense. Instead God defends him and all of His people that Joshua represents as high priest. 

Not only does God defend Joshua. He commands that Joshua's filthy garments be removed, and he is clothed in a pure robe. He is given a clean turban for his head and clean garments.

Joshua wasn't told to go clean himself up or to wash his garments on his own.

Joshua didn't deserve to have his filthy garments replaced with pure clothing.

Here I am, a child of God who has been adopted into His family. I have been covered with the atonement of Jesus. My sins have been forgiven, and my God sees me clothed, not in the filthy garments I have created for myself, but in the righteousness of Christ.

But I wrap up in my shame blanket anyway.

I think I'm not loved.

I think I'm not worthy of love.

I think my feelings are wrong.

I think my feelings are bad.

I think I am bad.

All of this thinking is tearing me up and paralyzing me. Meanwhile, God wants to wrap my head in a clean turban. He wants me to think of myself the way He thinks of me.

He loves me. He sees me as worthy of love. He chose me. He sees me as good. He sees all the good things he created me to be and do.

How do you let go of a shame blanket?

God is going to have to do the work of prying my hands off of the security of being wrapped in bad thoughts about myself. Shame feels right because I am a sinner, and it doesn't take much to convince me that I am the problem.

Shame feels right and grace feels wrong.

Our flesh will never feel like grace is right because grace isn't fair.

Joshua didn't deserve clean new garments. Joshua deserved the accusations.

I don't deserve for God to take my shame blanket and cloth me in a robe of Christ's righteousness. I deserve the accusations, and my head is full of them.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
— Isaiah 61:10 ESV

Today I have the assurance that my Abba Father is being a good parent to me at reaching down to take something dangerous out of my clumsy, unknowing hands. He is pulling away the comfortable blanket of shame that I have grown accustomed to living wrapped up in. I am crying like a toddler who wants that thing in her hands and doesn't understand my parent is trying to protect me from hurt. Like any good parent, He is placing something safe and good in my hands and hoping I will forget about the dangerous thing that He has taken from me.

Lord, help me to not want my shame blanket. Help me to capture my negative, accusatory thoughts and replace them with the thoughts you have about me.

Help me to feel secure in this robe of righteousness that you have placed on me, even though I don't feel like I deserve it because I don't deserve it.

Jesus told us to pray, "Your kingdom come." And in God's kingdom, we are all clothed in white robes forever and ever.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’
— Revelation 7:9-10 ESV

When His Kingdom does come, I will be able to physically see my white robe, and will never ever see or feel my shame blanket again. So I fervently pray that His Kingdom comes, now, here on Earth as it will be in Heaven.

Lord, uncover me from this shame blanket and guide me in relishing my robe of righteousness!

Thank you, Jesus!

Here's a song for you, because I like sharing songs with my friends.