Unchanging Love in the Face of Shame

A reminder that tomorrow we will commit to praying and fasting for God to bring marriage to those of us who desire it, to strengthen both men and women in their personal and relational lives, and to bring change within our hearts, minds, and spirits. 

I’ve been sitting here now for about five minutes, trying to think of how to start this blog post.  Well, really I’ve been thoughtfully considering the lovely image of Jeremy Renner on my Mac desktop, but I digress.  Anna’s beautiful writing last weekend on shame and singleness got me thinking of how often I’ve experienced the exact same lies in my own head.  And as I continued to reflect, I started to realize that shame doesn’t just show up when I’m single.  It also shows up on the rare occasions when I’m dating.

In the last six weeks I’ve started seeing someone.  He is wonderful:  Smart, creative, laid-back, happy, and most importantly possesses a gentle, kind heart that makes me feel cared for and secure.

At the same time, he is not actively pursuing a relationship with God.

In fairness, a conversation on one of our early dates revealed a faith foundation in his youth that has since gone by the wayside, and he acknowledges a belief in God and Jesus.  But he wrestles with the evangelical church and doesn’t currently show a huge desire to grow in whatever faith is there.  Whether this is something that might change is uncertain.  And in light of the precarious situation this presents, I’ve continued to date him.

WOOOSHHHH!!!!  That, my friends, is the sound of shame blowing in and overtaking me.

I’m not sure how many of you have ever found yourselves in a similar situation or carried similar feelings.  For me the shame leads to other feelings:  betrayal (I’m betraying Jesus), distance (I can’t come before God the way I normally do for fear that I’m wrong in my choice to date this person), and rejection (God can’t love me as much or in the same way as before.).

We could spend a lot of time going back and forth about whether my decision to date this person is right or wrong.  Honestly, I spend a lot of time thinking about that myself.  But today what I’d rather focus on is the difficult truth that no matter how hard I try I can’t seem to internalize that God’s love for me never changes, whether I’m dating the most spiritual man in the world or someone who doesn’t acknowledge that He exists.  It is just impossible for my mind to fathom.  Of course it also extends beyond my dating life and into other areas such as when I don’t spend enough time with God or choose to skip church or yell at people who are going too slow on the freeway.  Ding!  There’s the shame and the subsequent (mis)perception of being rejected by God.

But, in the spirit of Anna’s post, this misperception of God’s love shifting and changing simply is not true.  It’s another lie designed to pull us away from the safe, secure arms of the Father, which is exactly where we need to be in order to hear and receive His wisdom regarding what’s best for us.

As believers we should always seek to live a life worthy of the glory of Christ and His kingdom, while at the same time recognizing that our fallen nature won’t let us do so without a healthy dose of messiness.  And it might just be that our shame shows up in these messy moments, trying to punish us away from the healing love of Christ that always quietly whispers, “I love you…I love you…I love you.  I love you anyway, fully, completely, perfectly, and that will never, ever change from now until eternity.”

As we prepare to fast and pray this Monday, I’d invite us all to first take a moment and meditate on the truth (and challenge) of God’s unchanging love, and how in doing so our shame might lighten enough to draw us more securely into His arms.

Blessings,

Kirsten

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8 Responses to Unchanging Love in the Face of Shame

  1. Rachel Jenkins says:

    This post is really close to my heart. I am currently in a relationship with a fabulous man who is now learning about his relationship with Christ, coming close to Him as GOD sees fit, and who was not a Christian in his thoughts or actions when we started dating. He has a similar background as the man you’re dating–church as a child, but something got lost along the way, and he professed only faith in Jesus. Now he is walking more and more toward godly living!

    I had a lot of the same struggles, and more that you have that you probably didn’t mention! It’s hard! But there’s so much good in a relationship like this when you pray (of course) and trust GOD’s will. I have seen GOD change my boyfriend in so many ways–frequently prayers I’ve made–since we’ve started dating. Plus, GOD has used this to teach me so much about the Gospel, His plan, His goodness, the list goes on. It’s been 7 months. I don’t regret our relationship, and if what I think the Holy Spirit is telling me is right, then this man is probably “the one”.

    I just want to encourage you. It’s hard when we’re expected to date the perfect Christian man already, and sometimes, he’s not the perfect Christian man until GOD has used you to show him perfect Christian love and truth.

  2. Daniela says:

    Dear Kirsten,

    Thank you for your Monday post, and also for the clarification that you just made. I wanted to write something on Monday already, but for some unknown technical reasons, I could not post.

    Actually, your first post didn’t come across to me as if you were justifying that you are dating an unbeliever. However, some women may have interpreted it as a justification that they could continue doing the same if they are in a similar situation. I really don’t know, I’m only assuming. Nonetheless, I find Mo’s comment a bit harsh.

    I’m not here to exhort you of course, and you know yourself that your situation is quite delicate; but I would really caution you to continue dating this young man. Even if he would get interested in attending church and getting closer to God, it would be problematic if you remain attached to him. Because if somebody is just starting a love-relationship with Jesus, it’s not good for him or her to be in a courtship at the same time. Of course there is no problem if you continue being friends with this man, but if there is an emotional attachment, it may become really difficult to let go at some point. After all, how would you know whether he becomes interested in your faith because he feels drawn to Jesus as his Saviour, or rather because he feels drawn to you as a woman? Just my 10 cents.

    Nevertheless, I wish you God’s guidance in this relationship!

  3. Liz says:

    I found this unhelpful too I’m afraid and when you are writing to such a large group of women at different places in their walk with God, I don’t see how this post will not be a stumbling block at least to some. This has completely changed my view of Fast Pray.

    • “I found this unhelpful too I’m afraid and when you are writing to such a large group of women at different places in their walk with God, I don’t see how this post will not be a stumbling block at least to some. This has completely changed my view of Fast Pray.”

      Liz –

      My view of fast.pray. is that complete strangers (the authors) in their walks with the Lord – HONESTLY and OPENLY share their stories with us – so for me Kirsten’s post has not changed my view – she was/is honest and open. I have heard COUNTLESS stories of women leading men to the Lord and CHANGING their lives and the lives of those around them for His Glory!

      Kirsten please continue to honestly, with faith, tell your story.

  4. Mo says:

    I had missed this post originally.

    “WOOOSHHHH!!!! That, my friends, is the sound of shame blowing in and overtaking me.”

    That is because you know what you are doing is wrong. If this man is not a born again follower of Christ and you are, then this is not a relationship you need to be pursuing. The rest of this post is rationalizing this fact away.

    I find it very sad. I would urge you to step away from this relationship before you get any more emotionally invested/involved and it becomes harder to do so.

    • John says:

      May the Lord help all of us. It could be tough, I tell you. I definitely understand Kirsten. I have been there, done that.
      For me, it’s the other way: I am a Christian man, committed to Christ. Over a period of 2 years I fell in love with an unsaved but religious woman. She was virtually all I wanted in a woman—feminine, humble, intelligent, well educated, easy going, open, honest and very responsive to my advances. For some strange reason, I felt happy and empowered as a man whenever I was with her. Did I mention that she was very attractive too? She’s blonde, with attractive, green eyes, that seem to see right through into your heart when she looks at you. She’s also got a nice figure.
      BUT (and a big but that was), she was not saved. She used coarse language occasionally, and drank alcohol a bit too much (I don’t drink at all). She once told me she didn’t want to get too much into the “bible stuff”, though she attends mass at the Roman catholic church religiously.
      Man, did I wrestle with my feelings! I knew she wasn’t saved. But I felt that if only I prayed enough for her, and gently introduced her to Christ, she would convert. Well, the more I prayed, the less comfortable I felt around her. While I wouldn’t call it a sense of shame, I felt that, somehow, so long as I pursued this unsaved woman, I was robbing some daughter of God somewhere an opportunity to find a husband. While this woman could convert some day, it was hardly a justification for me to knowingly enter into an unequally yoked relationship with her at this time. I prayed hard. Although I knew in my head that what I was doing was at least questionable, my human desire for her was rather strong. But God was faithful. He never allowed me to cross the line with her in any way. Eventually, I began to pray that if it was not God’s will for me to have her (I know that sounds lame), He should remove my desire for her from my heart. That was the only time my interest in her began to wane, until I totally felt completely free of those deep, gushing feelings I had for her.
      Kirsten, I would suggest that you should not beat yourself over the head. Be completely honest with God, and be irrevocably committed to living a holy life before Him, and refuse to compromise your principles. God will either elevate the man to you, or part the two of you in time. This may be an experience that will come handy some day when you have to help someone else in a similar situation. Continue praying.

  5. Susan says:

    Kirsten –
    Upon reading your post tonight I thought “at least he believes and has a background of faith” – I would say pray pray pray. . .

    that our Lord gives you the wisdom to leave or stay!
    :^)

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