What do you clothe yourself in everyday?
I usually walk into my overcrowded closet and then declare, "I have nothing to wear!" Not because I don't, but because I haven't bought anything new this week! Don't we do that? A woman declares, 'I have nothing to wear' when she has nothing new! A man delcares, 'I have nothing to wear' when he has nothing clean! A great little tidbit.
But seriously, what do you clothe yourself in everyday? Pain? Grief? Shame?
"Stop wearing the shame of your past," Beth Moore called out in her recent webinar. Christ took it for you. Christ took all your sins and shame from you when he died on the cross.
"LAY.IT.DOWN!" she urged.
My mind flew back seven years, when I shared my testimony at a Thanksgiving church event. The church was full. Twelve years earlier, in 2000, Janice, my good friend since childhood, listened for the 100th time as I cried my eyes out about the hurt I felt from my physically and emotionally absent mom.
Janice said something to me that night that I've never forgotten: "Debbie, as trite as this sound, the only way to get over this is to lay it at the foot of the cross."
I had no idea what she meant. I didn't even know Jesus then, and I didn't believe that the Bible was a true account of events. As a teen, at my mother's advice, I took what worked from the Bible and left the rest. And the story of Christ's crucifixion was, well, something I left. How could people be so cruel? The pain of my own life wouldn't allow me to know the pain of our savior giving his life for us. So I brushed it off as a horribly scary story.
On the morning of my testimony in 2012, in a new conservative city in northern Minnesota, where we'd lived only six years, this voice kept instructing me to lay it down at the foot of the cross. In front of these conservative Norwegians, I thought? They don't typically express any emotion or shed a tear.
This voice told me it was time to give it all to him, in front of the church. I'm not gonna lie! The anxiety I felt overpowered that voice I kept hearing. I wanted to push against it. But I pushed forward.
I purchased a red rose to represent the love I had for my mother. It laid on the lectern as I spoke. When I finished, I battled the self-conscious I felt inside. Should I do it? Do I dare be that vulnerable in front of these conservative Norwegians?
Pressing on, I picked up the rose after my testimony and stepped over to towering cross suspended from the cathedral ceiling. I bent over and laid the rose underneath it. I invited anyone to come and join me if they had something to lay down. Of course no one did. But I felt compelled to follow that voice that wanted to guide me. Hesitantly, I knelt. I've never been comfortable with all eyes on me and this was no exception! I prayed a very quick prayer and asked God to take it all: the pain, the grief, the abandonment. "I give it all to you," I prayed.
God changed my life that day. I truly felt freedom from my past in a way I'd never felt.
Back to 2019, I wasn't sure if i would attend Beth Moore's webinar this time. Launching this new speaking career takes a lot of my attention, and quite frankly, I had podcasts to record, a book to write and speeches to edit as well as a proposal to write by the end of the weekend. Could I really afford the time? But that inner voice said, GO.
So, I went.
At the event, I connected with Tera. She and I knew each other from several years ago-our kids attended school together. We connected more intimately two years ago over pizza at a scrapbooking weekend. One conversation lead to another and we found ourselves opening our hearts and sharing tears in the painful relationships we both had with our mothers. I hadn't seen her since.
Tera and I soaked in Beth's message about sisterhood, about how the younger generations need us to make space in our lives for them, and how we need to clean out the stuff in our "closet" that is not ours to wear. Through it, Tera and I, both motherless daughters, acknowledged the longing of our own hearts for sisterhood.
At the conclusion of the evening Tera started spilling the challenges in her life. She laughed anxiously as she became more and more transparent. A sister, looking for a sister to just listen. Beth's words, "Lay it down!" rang over and over in my head.
"See that cross?" I asked gesturing to the front of the sanctuary. "Are you ready to lay it down?" She gave an emphatic yes with nods of her head as she fought back tears. "C'mon, I'll go with you." We walked to the front of the sanctuary and stood under the cross that towered overhead. "This is exactly where I gave it to Him," I encouraged.
We knelt down. To kneel before the cross is one of the most humbling events of my life. There's no experience like it. And no way to even put into words the power that overtakes your soul. I placed my hand on her back and began to pray. If you'd have told me ten years ago that I'd be bringing people to Christ and helping them lay their burdens down at the foot of the cross I wouldn't have believed you. But now, it's as simple as tying my shoes.
"Gather it all up," I encouraged her. "Let all of your hurt, anger and pain spill out into your hands," I said. She brought her hands out in front of her as tears dropped from her pain-filled heart onto the carpet. She was trying not to sob out loud. "Let it out. It's okay to cry," I reassured. Sobs poured from her lips as she clamoured for a breath. "Now lift it up. Lift it to Him and watch him take it. You don't need to carry it anymore. It's too much. Let him take it all from you."
"Lord, please take it," she begged through her tears.
"He will, Tera. He'll take it. You just have to give it to him. Lift up your hands and see him take it from you." I flashed back to a time when I sat on the floor in my living room, sobbing. "Please Lord," I cried out loud. "Please take it! I can't do this anymore!" And in my mind's eye, a gigantic cloud-like hand dipped down from above and scooped it all up. I imagined this for Tera.
"Watch," I encouraged once again. "He's taking it."
Her tears began to subside as she settled into the new garment of freedom she could clothe herself in. The freedom we have in Christ, if we'll just trust him and give it to him.
Listen, I'm no Beth Moore, but I do know that finding Christ and understanding what he did for me changed my life. It wasn't just a head thing-a knowing that he died for me-it was a heart thing-I felt it, and I wept big hot tears that came from somewhere deep in my soul. Truth be told, I wept again today as Beth reminded me I don't need to carry the pain of my past. And I wept as I felt the freedom from the pain of it. And I wept because I'm just so awed at this amazing God I returned back to, who loves me more than anyone on earth ever will. Thank God I don't have to carry the burdens of my life anymore...
...And neither do you. Do you believe that? Do you trust Him enough to give it all to Him? Jesus died to take your sins and burdens away. He died for you! Yes, you. Take it to the foot of the cross and lay it down, sister.
And the next time you walk into your closet, instead of declaring you have nothing to wear or putting on some old garb that doesn't fit you anymore, put on Christ. As Ephesians 4:22-24 tells us, put off your old self and be made new by putting on the new self, created to be like God.
Thank you, Beth Moore, for your inspiration, to write this, to know that i can give it all to Him, and to know the love He has for all of us!