He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken. Psalm 62:6
Several years ago I gave my testimony during a discipleship class called The Search for Significance. That week the topic was Shame vs Regeneration and I was asked to demonstrate how shame had affected my life. The picture God gave me was of a backpack full of heavy rocks with labels on them. Each labeled rock represented a part of my identity that I carried with me. The common thread between each rock was that they symbolized generational sin as opposed to personal sin. My rocks were alcoholism, abortion, incest, abuse, pornography, mental illness, adultery, divorce and abandonment. They were dark, oppressive and shameful. Edward T. Welch, in his book Shame Interrupted, describes shame as “The deep sense that you are unacceptable because of something you did, something done to you, or something associated with you. You feel exposed and humiliated.” In my heart I believed my heritage was shameful, therefore, I was shameful by association. This belief justified my sense of worthlessness, enabling me to run from deep, meaningful relationships and bury my talents in the ground.
During the class I filled a backpack with my shame rocks and walked to the front of the church feeling exposed and vulnerable. While sharing my story about carrying this burden of shame, even as a Christian, I reached in and removed each rock, reading the label out loud while placing it at the foot of a large cross. The banner on the cross read, “Made New,” based on 2 Corinthians 5:17; “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
This process started a healing journey of forgiveness, ending in freedom from the past. Through it I discovered my true identity was not rooted in the manure of generational sin but in the fruitful vineyard of my heavenly Father. I am His precious child and I will never be put to shame. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection I am made new. It is the great exchange, the mystery of redemption, when He takes our sin upon Himself and gives, instead, His righteousness. Because of this beautiful truth we are free to “…lay aside every encumbrance (like rocks of shame) and the sin which so easily entangles us, and run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…” (Hebrews 12:1-2) The only rock I intentionally carry with me now has an eternal label. It says, “Child of God.”