When Grace Overshadows Shame

“I do realize the pain I can cause…”

“I’ve disappointed you…”

“You say you’re proud of me, but why?  I’m trying to remember the last good thing I’ve done.”


These were my own words, penned from a heart that desired to do right but couldn’t seem to get there.  I ran across this letter, written to my father when I was just 16 years old, in a box of mementos given to me by my stepmother more than a year after his death.  I couldn’t believe he kept that letter all these years.


Now on the other end, as a parent with children who have probably felt some of the same things, I get it.  In fact, it wasn’t that long ago my own 19-year-old daughter expressed to me that even though I tell her how proud I am of her, she still feels like she’s a disappointment to us.  It can be difficult to separate the disappointment we have in our children’s choices from them as a person.


I made some pretty bad choices myself as a teenager.  Yet my dad would tell me he was proud of me.  Perhaps what he was really saying is that he saw the potential in me.  He saw the places where I shined, more than those dark places.


I won’t lie.  My daughter can certainly stir things up.  Sometimes it causes chaos, anger and hurt.  Yet I can still tell her that I’m proud of her.  Why?  I see beyond the surface stuff.  I see the places she has overcome and done well.  Sure, I can get caught up in all her wrongs and fixate on those…but God nudges me back to grace.


The words I wrote when I was 16 years old could be echoed today, to my Heavenly Father.  I’m sure I’ve caused Him pain and disappointment.  I know there are times it seems like goodness is so far from me.  But I know…because of His Word…that He loves me anyway.  My heart is able to receive this truth.  Why?  Because grace overshadows my shame.


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