second servings.

sweet tea

Shame sticks

to folks like sweat on a glass of iced tea on a hot summer day,

the condensation of cool, sweet hope as it

slams

up against thick and humid heat of pain.

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No one asks for shame

and the folks who dish it out don’t know any better. Better to assume they don’t, because the alternative would be that they shove the blame of their pain onto someone else on purpose, the recipient simply collateral damage of a load,

indeed a pall,

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no one was meant to bear.

Do you feel shame,

your shoulders aching from the weight of it, your frame bent and caddywampus from the way it makes you lumber through the days?

A sack of salt blistering your tender palms?

Because as much as we want to give up the shame we carry, most of us want to own it. If we’re honest, flat out honest, the shame feels good, and we appreciate the applause of those who notice the hunch of our tired backs, who inadvertently encourage us to hang on to the heavy instead of releasing it like the only One in history

His-

-story

who was able to say–and mean it

forgive them, Father. They know not what they do.

Here, Abba, take the shame. Because the double portion isn’t only for the shamed, but also for the one who’s dished it out, the one who piled the double portion of sorrow on the plates of others and for whom grace

oh, elusive grace

grace says the shame-throwers deserve a double portion, too. The ones who roll the dice at our feet and fight over the shredded aftermath of our soul killings, they’re captives, too, after all. They just don’t know they are.

Which is worse

Than letting go.

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Drop it, then.

A double portion waits for you and waits to overflow, runneth over, pour into the brokenness of the shame-throwers’ empty hearts.

Feels like lassoing stars, this business of dropping our beloved shame bags and sharing double portions but somehow the Gospel can handle this sort of greed and apparently joy and freedom are two of the few feasts where even in our gluttony we’re never filled.

We can’t receive even a single portion when we’re clinging to the thing we can’t give up.

But when we do, we

you

even me

even they

will be

radiant.

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*****

Instead of your shame
    you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
    you will rejoice in your inheritance. (Isaiah 61:7-8)

*****

Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.
 This poor man called, and the Lord heard him… (Psalm 34:5-6)

*****

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*****

The Harlan family struggles with emerging from generations of shame in the novel How Sweet the Sound. For a limited time, you can order the e-book version of the novel for only $2.99 (or even less at some retailers). Click here to choose from your favorite e-book retailer today.

And see why folks like Rachel McMillan at BreakPoint are saying How Sweet the Sound is not your grandmother’s Christian fiction (click here to read her gracious article).

 

near the feet: a poem for survivors

all alone

ever

among us

uninvited

and

ignored full of

shame deflecting

pity

a harlot by

choice a harlot

by force a harlot

just the same

her story

no one wants

to hear too much

for them

to handle

but

everyone wants

to whisper

clicking

tongues think

they know her

struggle

her fear

don’t look

back forget

the past move

on

give up

get over

go away

still she stays

she stays to heal

she stays to hear

she stays to remember

the grace

the touch

the taste

the forgiveness

she stays

to find

her

way

near the only feet

that

saved

her

Jesus

***************

“One of the Pharisees asked him over for a meal. He went to the Pharisee’s house and sat down at the dinner table. Just then a woman of the village, the town harlot, having learned that Jesus was a guest in the home of the Pharisee, came with a bottle of very expensive perfume and stood at his feet, weeping, raining tears on his feet. Letting down her hair, she dried his feet, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfume. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man was the prophet I thought he was, he would have known what kind of woman this is who is falling all over him.”

Jesus said to him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Oh? Tell me.”

“Two men were in debt to a banker. One owed five hundred silver pieces, the other fifty. Neither of them could pay up, and so the banker canceled both debts. Which of the two would be more grateful?”

Simon answered, “I suppose the one who was forgiven the most.”

“That’s right,” said Jesus. Then turning to the woman, but speaking to Simon, he said, “Do you see this woman? I came to your home; you provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on my feet and dried them with her hair. You gave me no greeting, but from the time I arrived she hasn’t quit kissing my feet. You provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. Impressive, isn’t it? She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.”

Then he spoke to her: “I forgive your sins.”

That set the dinner guests talking behind his back: “Who does he think he is, forgiving sins!”

He ignored them and said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

Luke 7:36-50,The Message (MSG)

Reconciling raisin cakes

 “You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.”
~Dr. Kathleen Young 

***************

More than anything else, perhaps, someone in pain thirsts for peace.

More than anything else, perhaps, pain results from oppression.

Oppression from injustice.

Oppression from illness.

Oppression from tragedy, grief or loss.

Sometimes the word “reconciliation” makes me feel oppressed, choked by thoughts of forced, literal embraces with people who hurt and tear and steal.

But reconciliation is much more than that. Much bigger than an abuser. More powerful than any hold grief or loss has upon us.

In fact, I don’t believe reconciliation takes the form of human-to-human-embrace at all.

Reconciliation is about the way God loves us. The way God loves you. The way God loves me.

It’s about trusting God works out earthly things which the utter brokenness and depravity of human nature cannot restore this side of Heaven.

In the Bible, Hosea hears God tell him, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.” (Hosea 3:1)

Sometimes, we’re so elbow-deep in raisin cakes we can’t fathom the satiating love of our Father.

Sometimes, we need to toss aside our umbrellas of despair and dance in the rain of grace and mercy.

Kick off our galoshes and splash in rivers of reconciliation. 

Spin beneath the thundering sky of freedom.

Tiptoe into the ballet of a life being restored.

***************

“Each of us lives in the midst of particular sins and specific instances of brokenness. And each of us must choose how we will respond. Living a life of holiness and learning the ways of God sometimes mean letting go of our need for justice and instead embracing a world that groans in anticipation of the day when it, and we, will be redeemed. . . It means accepting with humility that God alone is good.”  
How Far Should Forgiveness Go? by Christine A Scheller 


*This post is written with gratitude for the One Word at a Time blog carnival on reconciliation this week.