It was the early 1990’s. I would have been in my mid 20’s back then. The church I was attending at the time hosted a one-day Women’s Retreat held at a hotel in Concord, California. I don’t remember who the special speaker was. I just remember the deep work of healing that the Holy Spirit was doing in the lives of the women present.
The Holy Spirit swept through the place, and women were weeping and wailing. Women of all ages. Married and single women. God was doing a deep Sovereign work.
Towards the end of the speaker’s message, the Lord began to prophetically speak through her that so many of the women in that room were wearing, as if it were, a black veil of mourning and shame. God wanted to remove that veil and replace it with a crown of beauty. He wanted to lift off the shame and reproach in our lives and give us a beautiful bridal veil to wear, since He is our bridegroom and we are His bride.
Women were carrying around shame, rejection and mourning for various reasons. For some, it was because of past or present abuse. For others, it was the broken heart of a failed marriage or having been widowed. For some, past immorality. For several single women, including myself, the feelings of being alone, feeling forgotten by God, rejection by men and living with the “stigma” of singleness because society says that we should be married or have a boyfriend, and the grief and despair and bitterness of soul over having empty arms (no husband meant no babies).
For a few women who were married and having a difficult time conceiving a child, or had frequent miscarriages, they were in utter despair and grief. The pain of having empty arms was almost too much for them to bear especially when their friends were having babies. Almost every woman there felt ashamed, for one reason or another, about her appearance or body image. Even the ones who seemed to be so beautiful were ashamed about certain things in their appearance. There were so many reasons why the women in that place felt shame, rejection and mourning.
The Lord was doing such a deep work of healing that day, tenderly holding us in His arms and whispering so gently, “I love you, you are my beautiful bride, I will give you the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. I will give you beauty for ashes. I am your glory and the lifter of your head. I want to heal you and set you free. Those who look to Me are radiant and their faces are never covered in shame. I am the lover of your soul. I will never abandon you. I will never fail you. I long to share sweet intimacy with you, My bride. I want to romance you, dance with you, validate you. Only I can meet all of your needs. Would you give Me permission to come into those secret chambers of your heart and cleanse the deep wounds? Would you allow Me to heal the memories? I am the Lord your healer. You are so beautiful to me, My precious jewel. Would you allow Me complete access to your heart?”
What is shame?
In the Bible, there are many words translated as shame. The Hebrew and Greek defines shame as:
- To pale, to blush
- Confusion, to be confounded
- Dishonored or not honored
- Depised, Contempt
- Lightly Esteem
- To wound, to taunt, to insult
- To expose, to defame, to rail
- Disappointment and delay
- To become dry
Notice that the last two definitions deal with disappointment, delay and being dry (parched). Shame leaves a sense of desolation to the soul. (Hope deferred also leads to feeling stripped dry.) Shame causes emotional barrenness. The Lord wants to transform the ruins in your life into an Eden. He wants to turn the wilderness into a land that is lush and green with pools of refreshing water.
Shame is like a garment. The Lord wants to do a Divine exchange, and give us a garment of righteousness and beauty to wear if we will give Him our garment of shame. When you are ashamed, you feel bad about yourself and want to hide. Shame can become a lifestyle, where you always want to hide, or put up a facade so people don’t see the real you. The Lord says, “The walls you have built to protect yourself are not only keeping everyone else out, but also keeping Me out as well. Would you give Me permission to get close to you without you pushing Me away, keeping Me at a distance? Would You allow Me to go into every room of your heart?”
The Lord wants to remove that black veil of mourning, and crown our head with a white bridal veil instead. He wants us to hold our heads high knowing who we are in Christ. Our identity and validation comes from Him and who He says we are. He says that we are kings and priests. He says that we are His beautiful and radiant bride. He says that we are complete in Him.
Whatever has happened in the past, whatever mistakes you have made, whatever injustices happened to you … it’s over with and done. The Lord is doing a new thing. Now it springs forth. Your past does not determine your destiny. God promises to give us a double portion recompense for what we went through.
Isaiah 61:7-8 says, “Instead of your [former] shame you shall have a twofold recompense; instead of dishonor and reproach [your people] shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double [what they had forfeited]; everlasting joy shall be theirs. For I the Lord love justice.”
The Lord loves justice (fairness, equity). Whatever we went through in life that was unfair, the Lord wants to make it up to us in some way.
Isaiah 54:4-5 AMP
Fear not, for you shall not be ashamed; neither be confounded and depressed, for you shall not be put to shame. For you shall forget the shame of your youth, and you shall not [seriously] remember the reproach of your widowhood any more. For your Maker is your Husband — the Lord of hosts is His name — and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; the God of the whole earth He is called.
Psalms 34:4-5 AMP
I sought (inquired of) the Lord and required Him [of necessity and on the authority of His Word], and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant; their faces shall never blush for shame or be confused.
Isaiah 60:1 AMP
Arise [from the depression and prostration in which circumstances have kept you — rise to a new life]! Shine (be radiant with the glory of the Lord), for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you!