Somewhere along the road of life I decided my feet were ugly. A random comment became an internalized thought that repeated itself in my mind until I decided I had no business showing my feet in public. With no specific reason or evidence, I just decided they were ugly. From that point on, I never wore flip-flops (back in the day we used to call them “thongs” but now that just seems wrong) or sandals, or even open-toed pumps. If we were going to the beach, I would wear tennis shoes and socks until we reached the sand. Then I would slip my shoes off and promptly bury my feet in the sand so no one would have to look at my feet.
Bottom line? I became ashamed of my feet based on some random and probably inaccurate information. How often does shame play mind games with us? We think there are parts of ourselves that we have to hide from others and from God. We think if others really knew us, they would not like or approve of us. Sometimes we might even picture God as being ashamed of us. Of course, we would never say it in so many words, but do you know what I’m talking about? That vague feeling that somehow God might be disappointed in you. That He “has to” accept you because of Jesus but that deep inside, He feels some sense of disappointment with you?
I think the Israelites might have felt their share of shame. After all, it has been the ugly inheritance of all humankind since the beginning of time. After Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate from the one tree He had told them not to, they immediately felt shame. They wanted to cover themselves and they wanted to hide. Oh, how I identify with their reaction. “Maybe if I pretend hard enough, no one will really know how badly I messed up, how badly I feel about myself. Maybe if I build enough walls around myself, around my heart, no one will ever find the real me.”
But God came looking for Adam and Eve . . . and He comes looking for us. I used to read that story in Genesis 3 and picture God kind of hunting Adam and Eve down, wanting to “call them out” about their sin. But the more I get to know Him, the more I think that is not His heart toward His beloved children. I wonder if maybe He was sad that they felt like they had to hide from Him. Yes, He was heartbroken over their sin, and yes, there were going to be consequences for their sin. But He also ALREADY had in mind a solution for their sin. A remedy for their shame and pain and helplessness. For OUR pain and shame and helplessness.
Maybe that’s why the Israelites needed their Year of Jubilee. They lived so many years in actual physical bondage. But I’m sure they also experienced the emotional “slavery” that comes from those feelings of doing the wrong thing time and time again, disappointing the one Person you most want to please. And God, knowing His people better than they knew themselves, offered them a time, a Year of Jubilee. when they would be set free from their bondage. And He knew that there would come a time when we could all be set free by His Son.
How much time do we spend hiding? Ashamed of what we’ve done, or even who we are? Thinking we don’t want to see the look of disappointment on God’s face if we come out of hiding? When all along, He is waiting there with the remedy. He doesn’t want us to hide. He seeks us out and whispers to us “It’s okay. I already have the solution. You do not need to be ashamed anymore. You have received Christ’s righteousness and all I see when I look at You is my precious, beloved child. I am singing over you and celebrating you and you do not have to hide! You are free!”
So, back to my feet for just a moment . . . .Last week, my daughter and I were getting ready to go on our annual girls’ trip with dear friends. I walked by the living room and saw her painting her toenails with a flourish. I went in the other room, grabbed a bottle of bright red polish and painted my own toenails . . . it is my year of Jubilee, after all. And when we went to pick up last minute supplies, I picked out a pair of flip-flops for myself. When I put them on before heading to the beach with our friends, they all said I had cute feet! And the amazing part was I don’t think they were just saying that to be nice. I looked down at my own feet and decided maybe they aren’t ugly after all. And if I can believe that, maybe I can also believe that God really does see value and worth in me. That He is not ashamed or disappointed in me. That He rejoices over me with singing. And if that thought doesn’t set me free, I don’t know what will.
So, if you see me at Payless during the next “Buy One Get One” sale, it just might be a few pairs of sandals I will be purchasing. And I just might be caught wearing them more often during my Year of Jubilee."He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17