Is “Unashamed” just another book in a sea of self-help books? Or is it really worth a read? If you can’t seem to move forward or need something highly practical to help you deal with your past or beat your struggles with shame, this book offers excellent examples and precise strategies of what you can do differently.
This book is highly recommended if:
- You can’t get rid of persistent thoughts that lead to feeling doubt, fear, insecurity, bitterness, offense, discouragement, negativity, anxiety and/or anger.
- You experience painful emotions on an on-going basis.
- You do well for a while; but then you hit a wall.
- You overcome one hurdle, but then something new comes along to deal with and you feel like you’re right back where you started.
- You feel a lot of guilt and/or could be holding onto unforgiveness.
- You really do struggle to trust God no matter how hard you try.
- Your lifestyle is pulling you away from God instead of towards Him.
- You don’t like yourself.
- You find yourself wondering how other people can be so positive when they go through trials and suffering.
- You know you’ve messed up some significant relationships.
- You don’t believe you can ever get over what you’ve been through.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
This is a book to read with a notebook and a pen.
This is a book to let someone know you’re reading so you can be held accountable to follow its many rich suggestions. Even better – read it with a friend, wise counsel, or a group.
This is a book to ask the Lord to use as a tool to bring about change.
“Lord…let me never be ashamed.” Psalm 31:1b
You’ve got your flashlight should you lose power, and your water bottles should the stores run out, but what do you have at the ready when you are struck with a serious emotional situation? There’s a good chance you may never find yourself trapped or stranded without water or a flashlight, but if you interact with people, being hurt is a sure thing. Therefore, you need an emotional survival kit even more than you need supplies for physical survival.
When you’re nursing an emotional wound, the world encourages you to drown your sorrows in wine, or eat a pint of ice cream and watch Netflix around the clock. But that “solution” can not only be destructive to your health, but teaches your brain to escape in order to cope with hardship, and misses an opportunity to learn and grow from your suffering.
A far better plan is to have self-care gear that provides true recovery for you; and a commitment to use it.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
1.Prepare your supplies.
- Bible. Know what comforts you most in His Word. Maybe it’s Psalms or other favorite passages, but make sure you know how to get to these places quickly. Or make a reference list. Listening to an audio Bible can be especially beneficial to quiet any loud, negative thoughts.
- Shoes & Jacket. Already have the place in nature picked out where you will go to feel God’s closeness. Consider the weather year-round since you never know when your next heart rupture will come.
- Playlist. Don’t underestimate the therapeutic properties of the right kind of music when you’re in emotional pain. Take your time making God-honoring selections because they will bring you the most peace. Singing or playing an instrument can take it to another level.
- Notebook. Getting your thoughts and feelings to paper can help you process them. But bashing the one who hurt you is not going to feel as good for you as you might think. Making tables and charts comparing how you feel to what you know is true is a powerful exercise that can make this a much better use of your time. Turning your writing into a prayer for the one who hurt you is also very productive. Finally, any journaling that focuses on Christ more than on the wrongdoer or yourself will stabilize you more than you can imagine.
- Kleenex. Sometimes you have to cry before you can laugh again.
- Wise Counsel. If needed, have someone in mind who will not want to gossip about it, but instead will point you to Christ through it all.
- A Soothing Space. Your body and soul will need rest and quiet. Maybe it’s your favorite chair, a nap on your day bed, or special place to go. Everything else on your schedule may need to wait so that you can be there for a time. You may also need to stay away from others until your mood has stabilized.
- Sanctuary. Identify your first-choice method to meet up with the Lord to feel His love, receive His guidance, and worship Him.
- Beauty. Since God Himself is the epitome of beauty, then reflections of that on earth can move you towards Him in a nourishing way. This can include the obvious such as picking some fresh flowers or doing some painting, but it can even include organizing a closet or rearranging a space to be more pleasing to your eye, etc.
- Exercise Equipment. Emotions love to tighten up your body. Shake them out so you can feel light again.
- Debriefing Materials. After you’ve allowed the Lord to comfort you, it’s appropriate for you to make sense of everything that has happened, such as your role in the situation…how to prevent having a victim mentality…the need for forgiveness…whether to confront the person or not…how to respond with grace, etc. Choosing a Scripture to be praying especially in the first weeks can help you stay rooted in truth and not slide off into a bad emotional place.
2.Know how to use your equipment.
- Observe the swirling. No matter what weapon is used to strike the blow against you, it hurts. And your thoughts and emotions will start to spin fast. It’s important to recognize the sound of this alarm and remember it’s time to properly respond with your self-care equipment.
- Acknowledge the temptations to self-medicate, escape, or lash out, and instead reach for your packing list of healthier options.
- Know the warning signs. If you determine your toolkit is not adequately helping you deal with depression or other effects of this ordeal, seek outside help.
- Know when it’s time to pack up your supplies, and restock for next time.
“The Lord stood by me and strengthened me…I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into His heavenly kingdom. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (2 Tim. 4:17-18)
Believer in Christ, before you discovered Jesus, you were spiritually dead. He was with you and drawing you to Him because you were desperately missing something.
All the worst things you ever believe about yourself now, were actually true before you met Jesus. In fact, no matter how much good was in you before Jesus saved you from sin, it wasn’t enough.
That’s why the negative things you sometimes believe about yourself now feel so close to the truth. Feeling bad about yourself and who you are seems right to you for a reason. That’s because this used to be your reality. In the not so distant past, every negative thought about you and critical word said about you used to be true. Even the belief that “we just have this one life to live…we die…and then it’s all over” feels like it could be true. That’s because before the gift of eternal life, it was true.
If it were not for God’s grace, you would have good reason to feel bad about yourself.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
God’s Word explains why your negative history truly is a thing of the past. This entire article is based on Ephesians 2:1-10. Read it every day for a period of time (maybe for the whole season of Lent) so that it will sink in deeply and permanently.
But, don’t rush to hear the good news. You can’t appreciate the extraordinary rescue until you spend some time pondering your former sin-state.
Keep in mind that being saved by the Risen Savior doesn’t mean you used to do all bad things and now you do all good. Being saved means you used to be dead and now you are alive by His resurrection.
And don’t live in fear that you’re going to be dead again. You can’t be somewhat alive. If Jesus is your Savior now, then you are fully alive now. God said your status is: Alive. Free. Forgiven.
In conclusion, spend this week feeling relieved and utterly grateful that thanks to God’s grace you’re not in that spiritual bad place anymore. And stay tuned for next week’s article that features how being alive makes you good enough and gives you self-worth…
As a Christian wanting to feel more confident, you’ve studied the Gospel, acknowledge the human sinful condition, and claim your status in Christ as a believer. (Foundation). You’ve also dug into Scriptural passages that speak of the Lord’s proclamation of love for His people. (Bond) (for details, click here for last week’s article). But some of you are stuck.
Specifically about a personal connection to Jesus, some of you are asking:
Since God loves everyone, how can I feel like His love and messages apply specifically to me?
Excellent question! Look no further than your own life to find the answer.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
1.He is alive in your circumstances.
Filled up with truth and perspective from His Word, you can purpose to see Him at work in your life in such a unique and detailed way that you truly understand how His love for you is personal.
Study the following examples of how the Lord has done this for others:
- The bush burned specially for Moses. (Ex. 3:2)
- Jonathan’s loyal friendship was chosen specially for David. (1 Sam. 14:7)
- Loving care was provided through David specially for Mephibosheth. (2 Sam. 9:7)
- The temple construction was not given to David, but reserved specially for Solomon. (1 Chron. 22:9-10)
- Esther was specially chosen to live at a time when she could save her people. (Esther 4:14)
- Preparing the way for the Son of God was the role assigned specially to John the Baptist (Lk. 3:3-4)
- Even though a former murderer, Paul was specially charged with the task of writing the majority of the New Testament. (Gal. 6:11; 1 Tim. 1:13-14)
- The future of Jesus Christ was specially revealed to the disciple John. (Rev. 1:1)
2.He defines you in your circumstances.
Moved by His precise, customized work in your situation, you can begin to open yourself up to be molded by Him. Once that happens, you find yourself able to productively respond and function in ways that can only be explained by this intimate love relationship at work.
Review the following instances of such transformation:
- Abraham went from scoffing at God to trusting Him with his son’s very life. (Gen. 17:17; 22:8)
- Naomi’s bitter grief turned to productivity when she guided Ruth to the family’s redeemer. (Ruth 1:13; 3:1)
- Solomon grew from a child who didn’t know which way to go, to having the most wise and discerning mind ever given by God. (1 Kings 3:7, 12)
- Peter denied his connection to the Lord three times before becoming the rock upon which Christ built the church. (Mt. 16:18, 26:70; Acts 1:15)
- The woman of Samaria, convicted for living with a man who was not her husband, rushed out in freedom to tell the town that Christ had come. (John 4:18, 39)
He cares specially for each and every one of you (Mt. 18:12) to be transformed into His image. (2 Cor. 3:18)
All girls have a deep-rooted desire to feel valuable/loved/beautiful. In fact, you can always trace a girl’s behavior back to this single need and how it’s being met – no matter what her age or belief system is.
When it comes to Christian females, many are aware that only the Lord can adequately secure their self-worth, but at the same time they have no idea how to engage with that. Consider this two-part process: Head knowledge lays the necessary foundation…then bonding with Him in the heart is where she flourishes.
Jesus died and rose from the dead to rescue sinful women (and men) so that sinners who accept His gift of salvation (“Christ-in-me”) could be a part of a holy kingdom (“me-in-Christ”).
- The new “me-in-Christ” condition says that a girl is forgiven…saved…loved…has hope…walks in grace…is made righteous…is royalty as a daughter of the King…has purpose…is given security…is fully accepted by Him…and is at peace with God. (Rom. 6:11, 8:1 28, 38; 1 Cor. 1:2; 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:14; Col. 1:22)
- The new “Christ-in-me” status describes Christ working His power… purity…love…patience…self-control…steadiness…faith…prayers…and peace in her. (Jn. 15:4-5; Rom. 7:6, 8:27; Gal. 5:22; Col. 1:27; James 3:17)
Once a girl fully faces the reality about her need for Christ and what He did for her (the foundation is now secure) – she will begin to pay attention to the lover of her soul. And that (bond) changes everything. (Song of Solomon 3:1)
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
- Let Him lead. Whether you’re absorbing this message for yourself, or preparing to teach it to the young girls in your life, this Living Man is the leader for this process. The world has literally hypnotized girls into believing society and people determine their worth; but the world is not in charge of His girls. When He is the One wooing a girl to Him, she will finally know what it’s like to live a life feeling valuable. (Psalm 45:11b; Song of Solomon 1:4)
- Don’t write Him off. Girls today have a tendency to take more seriously a guy’s affirmation of their beauty than the Lord’s. But the girl in Song of Solomon 2:3-5 would never be so indifferent to the Lord’s love that is spoken over her in beautiful passages such as Song of Solomon 1:15 and 4:1-16, and Psalm 45:11a. This girl from the past knows something most modern girls do not. And she’s better off for it too. Dive deep into the spiritual meaning of Song of Solomon and Psalm 45, and be loved and made worthy.
- Cherish the relationship. This belonging to Jesus Christ does more for a girl’s identity, existence, purpose, and productivity than any other relationship, acceptance, or job ever could. Abandon false, worthless lovers and draw close to this Man as He makes you into the special, beautiful girl you’ve always dreamed of being. (Psalm 45:13-15; Song of Solomon 6:3; 7:11-13)
You’ve concluded that it’s you. Something about you messes up relationships…causes people to leave you out…makes you disappointing or not measure up…or causes things to happen only to you. Thinking this way can make you emotionally and spiritually ill from a mass of self-condemnation.
But what might happen if you produced antibodies of repentance instead?
What if you looked at each troubled relationship, each instance of rejection, and each personal shortcoming and circumstance and accurately took responsibility where appropriate, and then rested in the promises of God for everything else?
Such true repentance is the Lord’s treatment plan for self-condemnation:
First, He wants you to see the full picture. You are right that something is wrong with you, but it’s not just you. There is not something specific to your condition that makes you more of a loser than anyone else. (Lam. 1:8; Rom. 3:23, 5:19; Rev. 3:17b)
Second, He wants you to have the good habits of regular confession so you can continually experience forgiveness. (Ps. 32:5; Prov. 28:13; Mk. 1:4; Acts 2:38; Heb. 10:23; Jas. 5:16; 1 Jn. 1:9, 4:15)
Third, He wants you to receive the loving gift of repentance and its benefit of freedom. (Acts 5:31, 11:18: Rom. 2:4; 2 Cor. 7:10; 2 Tim. 2:25; Rev. 3:18)
Therefore with each added act of confession, you are building strong defenses of repentance, restoring health to your mind and soul. (Lev. 26:40-45; Lk. 3:8; Acts 3:19-26, 26:20; Rom. 8:1, 2 Pet. 3:9; Rev. 3:19-21)
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
Fears, habits, shame, and/or spiritual warfare can explain why some Christians struggle severely with self-condemnation, even if you know all of the above. Being accountable to Christ and to godly counsel gives repeated opportunity for truth to be spoken into the lies that feed self-condemnation. Don’t stop working for your remission while you wait for the day when all struggles will pass away. (Rev. 21:4b)