I was born in a land of castles— Scotland has more than three thousand of them, the oldest dating back to the eleventh and twelfth centuries. When you stand inside one of these magnificent buildings, you can almost feel the history, hear the voices and sense the Celtic music seeping out of the ancient stones around you. Disney castles did not come from Scottish molds! The Scots built their castles for war and to defend their people, not for fairy tales and to delight little girls in Cinderella pajamas.
Not all our castles are in a glorious state today, however. Far from it. Some ruins are little more than craggy skeletons of their former glory. And it was in one of these as a young girl that I installed myself as queen and claimed my own personal throne. Loch Doon Castle lies just a few miles from where most of my family still lives. In the summertime, we often visited it for picnics with friends. We would spread out our blankets and unpack our picnic baskets outside the ruined walls of the ancient fortress, enjoying the glorious scenery and the sun reflecting off the water.
The castle held a secret that no one else seemed to have discovered. As a fairly agile child, I could step into the large stone fireplace of the one remaining tower and then, resting my back on one wall and my feet on the other, I could slowly climb to the top of the chimney and then crawl out onto the highest remaining point on the castle walls. I became a different person up there. Gone was the girl whose father had died in a shameful way that no one ever liked to talk about, the girl with hand-me-down clothes and one pair of good shoes. Up there, I became a Scottish warrior princess who gladly laid down her life for her people. Up there, anything became possible. I would slay dragons, and when something fearsome threatened to storm the castle, I would fell it with one mighty blow.
Then I would hear my sister’s voice shouting up from the bottom of the chimney: “Sheila, it’s time to go home. If Mum sees you up there, you will be in big trouble!” So I climbed back down and unwillingly reentered a world with far less to commend it, a world where shame in all its wretchedness ruled the land.
Shame is one of the enemy’s most powerful tools because it makes so much sense to us. At some level, most of us can admit to a dull yet persistent awareness of not measuring up. Lewis Smedes, in his book Shame and Grace, calls it a “sense of not-good-enough-ness.” If guilt tells us that we have done something wrong, then shame tells us that we are something wrong.
We live in a culture that tries to dispel our shame by telling us through every second commercial that we “deserve” to be happy, we “deserve” to be thin or to be rich. Such commercials may seem appealing, but instinctively we know they lie — and yet we wish they were true. They promise the stuff of fairy tales, and a little part of us would love to believe those fables.
What Christ offers is far greater. He deals with the garbage of our past, our present and our future. Shame is real, but at the cross Jesus dealt with shame and gave it an eviction notice. When Christ took our place on the cross, He paid our entire bill. When we come to Him in faith, He makes us worthy (not deserving). He who knew no shame became shame so that we can be free! So the next time the enemy tries to drape you with shame again, remember this:
He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross. — Colossians 2: 14-15
REMEMBER: You are loved, you are beautiful, you are treasured!