"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16, NIV).
I am not ashamed of the gospel . . . but sometimes I am ashamed of other things. Poorly chosen words spoken in a flood of emotion. Parenting choices I wish I'd handled differently. Memories of past mistakes.
Shame. Regret. Guilt. Remorse. Self-reproach. Conviction. Condemnation. These dark feelings can haunt us, like heavy burdens we carry upon our backs or like a dark mark we think brands us for life. Often, they're all jumbled together in our lives in a dark and discouraging tangle of I'm-no-good-ness.
But the truth is that these feelings are not all the same. While some lead us to darkness, others can be pathways toward light—toward forgiveness, humility, maturation, gratitude, freedom, and greater commitment to Christ. The difference is made in how we respond to shame and guilt: Will we wallow in the mire? Or will it prod us toward contrition—toward walking in new life and deepened love?
This issue of Today's Christian Woman will help you uncover the invitations to joy and freedom hidden within those hard experiences of shame and regret. In 'Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda," author and Her.meneutics contributor Michelle Van Loon helps us tease out the tangle between regret, remorse, and repentance, illuminating the redemptive role even regret can play within the framework of the Christian life. From serious regrets to "I wish I would have" misgivings, Michelle's insights will help you give voice to your own struggles.
In "Who Are You Letting Down?" Jenny Rae Armstrong invites us to dive deeper into Scripture to examine the roots of shame, encouraging us to wisely discern between healthy remorse over sin and unhealthy self-reproach. Rather than letting illegitimate shame cripple us, Jenny draws from the Word to help us find freedom from shame through a God-centered sense of self-worth.
Dr. Juli Slattery leads us to the bedroom in "Sex and Shame" to discuss an arena of our lives that, for many, carries some of the deepest wounds of shame: sexuality. Whether it's from past abuse, sexual sin, shame over body-image issues, or plain old 'sex-is-shameful' church baggage, shame can have a devastating impact on sexual and emotional intimacy for a married couple.
If you're the mom of a teenager, then your home-life probably has an extra dose of shame in the mix due to the developmental realities of adolescence. In "When Everything You Do is Wrong," counselor Sissy Goff helps you unpack the normal adolescent shame struggle along with the emotional and even spiritual shame your teenager may be dealing with. Sissy offers critical insights into how you can love your kid through the rough patches of regret.
Finally, best-selling author Philip Yancey offers sage spiritual wisdom in "Can Guilt Be a Good Thing?" He illuminates how guilt can be the spiritual kick in the pants we need to choose repentance and spiritual growth.
While I'm not ashamed of the gospel, I'm learning that the gospel itself offers me the response to the shame I may feel in other areas of life. They may be ugly, but when shame or guilt prod me toward the cross, they can, indeed, be a gift.
Kelli B. Trujillo, Editor