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Rejecting Shame and Embracing Grace




“Good enough” were words I rarely heard but yearned to receive.

Much of my life had been covered in abuse and addiction, which led me to prefer anonymity over applause. Even as an unbeliever, I felt unclean and uncomfortable. In God’s pursuit of my heart, I wrestled with making myself “better” before surrendering to Him.

Until I couldn’t.

I remember telling my wise, Jesus-loving mentor, “I am exhausted trying to be good enough for God.” 

Her response was, “You will never be good enough. Come, just as you are.”

And I did.

I conceded to the beckoning voice of a Savior trying to get my attention. My arrival at the foot of the cross was hesitant because I knew I was a mess. Not only was my life a wreck, but I was dirty—covered in sin-filled scum, which carried sin-filled shame.

The Heavenly Father met me with more grace than I knew what to do with. He extended kindness, gentleness, patience, and love. Concepts foreign to me became gifts as my life was being transformed daily.

Salvation by faith through grace happens instantly. Growth does not. 

The moment I yielded my heart to Christ, I became a loved daughter of the King. Nevertheless, my eyes were opened to my past mistakes and present guilt. Every wrong done to me and the wrongdoing I was complicit in was marked with shame.


This was new to me, but actually, even from the very beginning of humanity, shame was a tool the serpent used to push us away from God.

Adam and Eve walked with God in the garden and were not ashamed. Two bites and ten verses later, they were hiding from their Creator. They not only sought satisfaction from the forbidden fruit, but they were now clothed literally and figuratively with disgrace.

Humankind would now bear the weight of sin and the byproduct of shame. We—like Adam and Eve—make choices and suffer consequences that cause us to hide. Our mess makes us feel exposed; thus, we bury secrets, mask pain, and deny culpability.

However, God bids us to come to Him. He knows our nature (Psalm 103:14), and He is aware that only His grace is sufficient for us (2 Corinthians 12:9).

This journey of grace is not a quick trip to the convenience store; it is a progressive pilgrimage. One which requires sorrow, surrender, and assurance. In this pilgrimage, there are three steps we can take toward embracing the grace God has freely given us.

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 

Ephesians 1:4-6

  • Acknowledge and confess your mess.

Our Father chose us before the world was set in motion, and He knows how our stories will unfold. He is not surprised by brokenness nor startled by our rebellion. In fact, He ordained our days (Psalm 139:16), so the chapters of injustice and iniquity are already well known. There is no need to hide. 

In coming to the place of acknowledging and confessing our sin to God, peace enters in. We can experience holy sorrow about our sin, repent, and move forward.

  • Accept God’s unconditional love.

Having knowledge of something is not the same as embracing it. We may know God loves us, but remain skeptical of the magnitude of His acceptance. In truth, it is more than acceptance; it is an unconditional, permanent belonging. God happily chose the messy us in extravagant love to be forever adopted. Woah. 

He initiates, but we respond by trusting His love, forgiveness, and adoption. The mercy and grace of God are garments meant to clothe us in His righteousness for us to know we are His sons and daughters.

  • Align your heart and mind to trust His truth.

Awareness, acknowledgment, and adoption must move us to align our posture to marry His. The process is kindred to a metamorphosis, which is not instant nor linear. 

Our thoughts, as well as our feelings, must traverse an ascent. The Israelites knew this all too well. Most scholars believe that pilgrims would climb to Jerusalem, the holy pinnacle in Israel, several times a year. They would worship on the journey by singing the Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120-134). It signified a spiritual high point at the completion of a step-by-step journey. By reciting scripture in chorus, the Hebrew people informed their hearts and minds of truth amidst hard times. 

How applicable in view of our own transformation? It is an upward movement, a climb, an ascent. We admit and lament our sin-wrecked life. We fully accept the love and mercy of Jesus to clothe our weaknesses. We allow His truth-filled promises to root deeply in our hearts and minds.

Three practical ways I learned to crush shame at its core were to read scripture audibly, journal truth consistently, and worship abundantly. Psalm 23, Psalm 103, Psalm 139, Romans 5, and Ephesians 2 are a few powerful passages to speak aloud (yes, out loud!) so your soul can hear your voice declare truth. Set aside time to write. Committing pen to paper invites us to record and meditate on things that are true and right. In addition, create a worship playlist with songs that convey the radical grace of God.

Like the garden narrative, our shame frequently prompts us to run and hide. The exposure feels vulnerable, and the urge to hide is natural. However, in the same way, God clothed Adam and Eve, He will provide you the perfect hiding place in the love of Jesus. 

Rejecting shame was not a denial of my past, it was accepting the grace of Jesus to cover my messiness. On this side of heaven, the journey is traveled on a dirt road. I am reminded often that I’m still a dust-covered daughter in need of repentance and renewal.

However deep our mess goes, His grace goes deeper. 

And grace is enough.

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Article Topics

Scripture References

  • Psalm 103:14
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9
  • Ephesians 1:4-6,
  • Psalm 139:16
  • Psalms 120-134
  • Psalm 23
  • Psalm 103
  • Psalm 139
  • Romans 5
  • Ephesians 2
Janelle Nobles Janelle works as the 515 Experience Director at Passion City Church. She leads the Hospitality and Experience Door Holder teams who take great pleasure in opening the way for others to experience Jesus. Janelle is immensely passionate about reading and memorizing the Word. She and her husband, Michael, live in Atlanta, and love spending time with their friends and expanding family (with 7 grandchildren).