You don’t have to let shame keep stinging you!
I was young, serving my first congregation as best I knew how. When Ralph’s brother died, I knew it was a great opportunity to get closer to the porcupine of a parishioner. I asked Anne to join me at the funeral. “We can show Ralph how much we care—it will go a long way to building a relationship with him.” Always the pastor’s wife par excellence, Anne came along.
My big pastoral opportunity came under a large oak tree next to the grave. Ralph’s brother’s casket hovered over the hole and we drew near to Ralph, who began for the first time to open up tenderly and share with me.
Imagine my shock, therefore, when my proper wife, the quintessential partner in ministry, began showing a strained countenance on her face. Thankfully, only I saw her grim expression, not Ralph.
I gave her a look that communicated, Get a grip! This is an important pastoral moment.
Then, to my horror, Anne began crouching over at the hips. She bent one leg inward toward the other like a three-year-old in need of the potty. I considered the open grave and weighed the benefit of leaping in it as a suitable escape from the inevitable humiliation heading my way.
I gave her an even more steely stare —“daggers” she later called the look.
Then, surely for the first time in the history of Christianity, a pastor’s wife, standing under an oak tree by a grave, listening to a grieving parishioner, hiked up her dress into a ball around her midriff.
We all stared in awe.
“Something’s biting me!” she exclaimed and hobbled toward the distant car.
Once in the vehicle, she took the balled-up portion of dress and unfurled it. A big, angry hornet flew out.
My wife is a proper lady. But when that hornet stung her, it wouldn’t have mattered if Anne had been talking to the Queen of England. She had to get it out!
That’s the way it is with shame. Eventually, the sting in your soul is too much—you’ve got to forego normal protocol and get it out. Tell someone what’s stinging you. You might not feel comfortable at the thought—but isn’t it even more uncomfortable to keep the condemnation hidden in your heart where it keeps on biting you? You can be free. And that’s the Gospel!