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Let It Go
When you can’t let go of stuff, it will eat you up – physically, emotionally and more importantly spiritually. If we can inspire, help, equip or challenge people to just LET IT GO, we can change our overall well-being in life.
What accomplishment are you most proud of in your life?
Pride is something all of us deal with. It destroys relationships, makes us un-coachable, and keeps us from being vulnerable. It leads us to make unhealthy choices, spend too much to impress someone, and hold people at a distance.
Pride isn’t healthy self-esteem or being proud of your kids. Pride is that inflated sense of self-importance and being self-absorbed. It is feeding a huge ego, and a huge ego Edges God Out.
In Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis wrote, “the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea bites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”
Pride is often looked upon by high achievers as a virtue, yet God uses strong language to talk about pride. He detests pride and opposes the proud. Pride can make a man or woman so full of themselves that there is no room for God and His love, His acceptance, His wisdom, and His leadership in our lives. That’s why we have to let it go.
To let go of pride is to admit publicly that you need God’s amazing grace in your life.
Where does pride have its strongest hold on you?
Have someone read Proverbs 16:5, Psalm 101:5 and Daniel 4:27
Moses wasn’t perfect, but Numbers 12:3 says, “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.”
Moses grew up in Pharaoh’s palace. He had striking features. He was educated, wealthy, and a natural leader. As a young man, Moses realizes he’s an Israelite. He sees an Egyptian beating a fellow Israelite and kills him. As a result, he has to flee from Egypt and ends up across the desert in Midian. Moses gets married and goes to work for his father-in-law Jethro, tending sheep. One day the angel of the Lord appears to him in the flame of fire from within a bush. God is calling him back to free the Israelites from the Egyptians.
Have someone read Exodus 3:11.
We see here that Moses is not the same man as he was 40 years earlier when he impulsively killed an Egyptian.
What are some ways that God has helped you to overcome pride?
Have someone read Romans 12:3.
The Apostle Paul is telling us to view ourselves accurately, to be honest in our evaluation of ourselves, but that’s difficult and sometimes painful. The world tells us to boast about our gifts. Who wants to expose their bumps and blemishes? But to live in freedom, we need to stop and look in the mirror once in a while and ask the question Moses asked: “Who am I?”
Why do you think it is so hard for us to be honest about our shortcomings?
Have someone read Matthew 5:3.
Jesus is saying that the people who recognize their need for Him are blessed. He doesn’t mean that we should view ourselves as worthless. Quite the opposite! If we were worthless, He would not have died for us. You have incredible value, worth, and significance to God. To be poor in spirit simply means to recognize that you need God and then to depend on Him.
People who are poor in spirit people can look themselves in the eye and say, “I don’t measure up to God’s standard of holiness. When I look in the mirror I have blemishes. Every day I say things; feel things; think things; do things; or refuse to do things that just underscore the fact that I’m a sinner in need of amazing grace.”
Jesus says, blessed or happy are those who can look in the mirror and humbly acknowledge they need God. The kingdom of heaven belongs only to those who can admit they don’t deserve it. Developing an accurate view of ourselves will lead to humility and is the first key to letting go of pride.
How can we cultivate a poor spirit, one that recognizes our spiritual poverty but on the other hand doesn’t cause us to think of ourselves as worthless?
The second key to letting go of pride is to view God accurately. When Moses asks God “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?” God responds in Exodus 3:12 by saying “I will be with you.” Moses starts listing all the reasons he isn’t the right pick. God doesn’t agree or disagree. Instead, He takes the focus off Moses and puts it on Himself. Moses doesn’t need more self-confidence, which always leads to pride or to disappointment in yourself. He needs God-confidence, a humble awareness of God at work in his life. Put your confidence in the all-powerful, all-loving, and all-knowing God of the universe.
What challenge are you facing where you need God-confidence not self-confidence?
Fast forward and Moses has led the Israelites out of Egypt, but they’re not yet in the Promised Land. They’re in the desert in between. The people are complaining, they’re high-maintenance, and they want something to drink. God says to Moses, “Speak to this rock and water will miraculously come from this rock.”
Have someone read Numbers 20:10-12.
Moses did something different than what God told him to do, and so God tells Moses, “You’re not going to go into the Promised Land.” Gene talked about how some say this is because of disobedience, but he thinks the problem is pride. Moses says, “Must we bring forth water from this rock?” Not God, but “God and I.” Moses wasn’t bringing the water from the rock, God was. If you want to let go of pride you must give all the glory to God.
Pride keeps us from God. When we are prideful we say “I don’t need your help, God. I’ve got this.” Pride keeps us from acknowledging our need for a Savior.
What are some ways that pride has kept you from being as close to God as you could be?
Thanks to God there will be a day when pride will be vanquished. And the Bible tells us there will be a day when every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, that He alone is worthy.
We don’t have to wait until that day. We can humble ourselves and surrender to Jesus today. We can acknowledge our need for Jesus in our lives. One way we surrender is through baptism.
This weekend we had the opportunity to hear a testimony from Aaron and Brandi.
Aaron was hesitant to get baptized before the whole church, but he shares that “I really believe that my life started the day I gave into faith and believed that Jesus Christ is our Savior.” For some of you, that is your next step, to humble yourself and stand publicly admitting you need Jesus and want to be baptized. If that is you, share with your group and prayerfully consider signing up to be baptized at eastside.com/baptism.
Break into small groups and pray for each other to be able to overcome the pride you have in the area you shared about at the beginning of the group. Pray that God would help you to see yourself accurately, to view God accurately, and to praise Him, giving Him all the glory.
When you can’t let go of stuff, it will eat you up – physically, emotionally and, more importantly, spiritually. If we can inspire, help, equip or challenge people to just LET IT GO, we can change our overall well-being in life.
What are three treasured things you would grab from your home if there were an emergency?
The most repeated command God gives humans in the Bible is, “Fear not….do not fear….do not be afraid.”
There are many types of fears – relational, medical, educational, job related. Fear can grip us, and when we let fear overcome us it starts to dictate how we live our lives.
Have someone read Exodus 14:10-14.
The Israelites have just escaped Egypt and now find themselves facing a wall of water before them and enemies racing towards them. They have a very natural human response to this situation where their backs against the wall. First, they’re afraid. Then they get sarcastic with their leader and start imagining worst-case scenarios.
For those of us that fall in to that worst-case scenario mentality, we need for someone to say, “Hey, if you cave into fear, and sarcasm, and worst-cast-scenarios right now, where is that going to take you?” We need someone to help us see there is a better plan.
Do you tend to make better or worse decisions when you’re scared? Share a time when you made a decision out of fear that you later regretted.
It’s natural when your back is against the wall to be afraid, but we have to be careful not to let fear drive us to make bad decisions, not to allow fear to make us panic when we need to relax and remain clear-headed, not to get sarcastic and biting and drive others away when we need people to help us.
The Israelites look at their situation and start predicting the outcome… and it’s not good.
When you’re afraid, what coping mechanism do you tend to use?
When we let worst-case scenarios take control of our mind, we lay in bed at night afraid. Late at night things weight heavy on our hearts and all the bad outcomes race through our minds. That almost never is helpful. The author of Aesop’s Fables once said: “My life has been full of terrible misfortunes…Most of which never happened.” In the dark of night, we can choose to stand firm and decide not to let those thoughts overcome us.
Have someone read Matthew 6:27.
Jesus is telling us it’s just unproductive to worry. Worrying doesn’t solve our problems. It is never the solution. It doesn’t improve our lives. In fact, worry will take time away from us. Constant worry has physical consequences. Worry steals from us. When we decide to not allow fear to control us we can use that energy in a much more positive way.
Is there a time in your life where you made the decision to stand firm rather than fear? What caused you to make that decision, and how did it feel?
Moses makes a bold statement to the Israelites in Exodus 14:13, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today.”
Moses is saying, “We’re going to abandon the scared, sarcastic, worst-case-scenario plan for the let it go plan.”
First, we’re going to adopt a fear-not mentality. Then we’re going to stand-firm and expect God’s help. This is the plan to implement when you find yourself with your back against the wall, and it comes straight out of the Bible: fear not, stand firm, expect God’s help.
Have someone read 2 Timothy 1:7.
The Apostle Paul is telling his young protégé Timothy—who has been given the huge responsibility of leading the church in the city of Ephesus—that he doesn’t need to be afraid.
We don’t have to freak out. We can have the self-discipline to choose a different path. We can develop the ability to be in a fear-not position when we’d normally be in a freak-out position.
What is one area in your life where you are feeling afraid currently? What would it look like to stand firm and trust God with this situation?
Standing firm requires faith. It requires the discipline to reset our way of thinking and to be brave. Time after time the Bible teaches us that God tends to wait for your declaration of faith before He supernaturally intervenes. Moses makes that declaration when he stands up and says, “I’m taking a different route. You can all believe what you want to about God, but I’m expecting God to bring deliverance to us today.” He doesn’t know how that will happen, but he is declaring his faith in God.
In Exodus 12:15 the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.” His words are simple and clear. Just move on and step toward that very thing you fear in faith. God doesn’t side step what they fear. He doesn’t take them over a bridge. God takes them through their fears. Choosing to stand firm in faith doesn’t mean we don’t have to walk through our challenges, but we can be assured that God is with us and that He will make a way.
Maybe you are in the midst of a challenge right now. Work is presenting a difficult situation to navigate. A relationship is on the line. Financially, you are desperate to see God’s provision. This is not the time to freak out but to fear not and stand firm.
What step can you take to overcome a fear that you are facing currently?
Gene shared how he finds it helpful to write about his fears in a journal. First, he writes out his fears, which somehow don’t seem as big and as overwhelming written down on paper Then he writes out more rational and faith-filled thoughts. This week, consider trying to journal each day stating your fears and how you can stand firm in the midst. Write your prayers and ask God to help you overcome your fears.
Gene ended our time with a prayer that you can pray together as a group now and at home in your quiet times.
PRAYER: God we pray for the brothers and sisters in our group who have decided to stand humbly and courageously to face their fears. We’ve all been there, and we know how futile it is to live in fear and to get sarcastic and blame others and imagine worst-case scenarios. We’ve done it thousands of times and it just doesn’t work. We also know how freeing it is to write new chapters where you say, “It’s fear-not time.”
So, God, help us to get on the fear not plan, and to discipline ourselves to take those thoughts and put them aside. Give us the ability to stand firm, knowing you will never let go. Help us to have faith… because some of us have given up believing that you can part the waters for us. Maybe we believe you can for Israel, for someone else, but not for us. Help us to change our thinking and to start writing with a pen of faith.
We believe You’re for us, not against us. We believe help is on the way, and the waters are going to part. And we look forward to the serious-water parting you will do in your time and your way, because we are standing in a declaration of faith today.
When you can’t let go of stuff, it will eat you up – physically, emotionally and more importantly spiritually. If we can inspire, help, equip or challenge people to just LET IT GO, we can change our overall well-being in life.
What is one thing on your bucket list, and why is it something you want to do?
This weekend Rusty talked about overcoming the curse of comparisons and the weight of envy. Chances are pretty good that at some point in your life, you find yourself satisfied… until you take a look over to the left and someone else has something a little bit better than you do. And then you find yourself a little bit miserable.
The fastest way to kill something special is to compare it to something else. We compare relationships, jobs, houses, and cars. We find ourselves measuring our value and worth based on what other people have. Craig Groeschel says, “Where comparison begins, contentment ends. “
Where in life do you tend to compare yourself with others?
Have someone in your group read 2 Corinthians 10:12.
It’s as if Paul, who started a bunch of churches shortly after Jesus death and resurrection, is saying, "It’s ridiculous to say, 'Look how their kids act all the time,' 'Look how much money they’re getting paid.' 'Look at their relationship and what I don't have.' It’s ridiculous to compare yourself to other people as if they’re the standard."
Comparing does two things. It either makes you feel superior or inferior. We don’t honor God in either of those moments.
Some of us look at others and feel superior. "I got the nice car because I worked hard and God loves me. I've been faithful, and look at that old piece of junk thing that he's driving because obviously he doesn’t love God like I do and doesn't work as hard as me."
But most of us will feel inferior, which takes us down a path to envy and jealousy. You look on Instagram in the middle of a busy day, working hard to make ends meet, and see your friend laying on a beach in a fabulous city. You throw your child a simple birthday party and the day after go to a huge, over the top birthday celebration at your friend’s house. And envy begins to creep in.
Jesus’ disciples, the twelve guys who followed him more closely than anyone else, struggled with envy and competition just like us. As you read through the Gospels, the Biblical accounts of Jesus’ life, you find them saying things like, "I got to sit next to Jesus. I was closest to him." And “Who's his favorite?” There's this little competition between .
Share with your group a time you felt envy and competition in a relationship. How did it make you feel?
Have someone in your group read John 20:1-4.
It must have been great to be John, “the one that Jesus loved.” But it had to be hard to be Peter, the other one. Many of us can relate. We have been the other one. We have lived in the shadow of a beloved or larger than life parent, sibling, or friend. Our friend has progressed at a faster pace and succeeded in areas we are still trying to reach.
Have someone in your group read John 21:1-22.
Peter has this powerful encounter with Jesus. Before the crucifixion, Peter was very bold in his love for Jesus and again, he almost took shots at the other disciples. Peter said, "I love you. If all these other losers are unfaithful to you, I will always be faithful to you. I've got your back. I will never leave you.” But then he denies knowing Jesus. Not just once, but three times.
In the midst of this moment Peter turns around and saw behind him "The disciple that Jesus loved." He's having this encounter with Jesus and then, what does Peter do? He thinks, "There's John. There's my competition."
In John 21:21 it says that when Peter saw John, he asked Jesus, "What about him, Lord? What about him? You told me to feed the sheep; what about him? What's his assignment?" Haven’t we all felt like that? We worry that their assignment, their role, their place, their position, their outcome—whoever they is in our life—will be better, more important.
Jesus replied to Peter, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what's that to you? Why are you wasting your time on him? I'm talking to you." Jesus says, "As for you, follow me. Your assignment is to follow me.“
His message for us is to stay in our lane, do what God has called us to do. We each have a unique assignment. We don’t have to worry about anyone else. When we start down that path of comparison we take our focus off Him. We cannot faithfully follow Jesus if we're always comparing ourselves to somebody else.
If we want to be who He fully calls us to be we have to stop looking over our shoulder saying, "What about them? Why are they getting the attention? Why are they more blessed than I am in this area of their life?"
Why do we do this? Because by nature, we are sinful human beings. Our sin nature causes us to view ourselves differently than God views us. We are trying to find some external win to satisfy an internal longing, and there is no external accomplishment, blessing, relationship, money, satisfaction that ever quenches the inner spiritual longing. There is nothing on the outside designed by God to satisfy you on the inside. Only God Himself can do that.
What are some specific ways we can overcome envy and comparison?
Often, when we truly get to know people whose lives we envy, we realize that they have their own problems. They make a lot of money, but they hate their job. They have a great family, but they suffer from anxiety. They’re really good looking, but they’re so insecure that they make themselves miserable. Life seems good on the outside, but on the inside they’re every bit as tied up in knots as we are.
Essena O'Neill was a 19-year-old Instagram model whose life looked amazing in the photos she shared online. She writes:
I grew up being a teen [idol]. I was social media famous at 15. At 12 I saw myself as this huge, solid, too tall, nerdy, awkward majorly unpopular girl. I thought to be social media famous would be the best job ever and if all these people ‘liked’ me I would be happy. At 15 I got what I wished for, I was first Facebook famous - tall, slim, blonde, smiling, straight A student… Then I moved onto Instagram and tumblr, then shortly after - at the request of others - YouTube. …
I pushed away all my old friends and anyone who knew me for me (goofy, nerdy Essena – not the teen [idol]). I talked ill of my old friends and only hung out with social media people…
During this time I became so caught up in pleasing people, getting more success in my career, becoming thinner (fitter was my excuse), dating countless guys at the same time, meeting with lots of different agencies and having proposals for major modelling and YouTube deals. All I talked about was my social media, getting a new fancy car, getting a fancy flat in LA, new cute clothes, my growing followers, brand deals…. This was everything I did and talked about each day. …
What’s ironic, during all of this struggle I was getting more and more followers, thinner and thinner, better and more visually appealing pictures… online it looked like I had the perfect life… yet I was so completely lonely and miserable inside. I hid it from everyone. I smiled and laughed in pictures and vlogs. No one knew I had what now is described as social anxiety disorder, depression, body [dysmorphic disorder]… whenever I met someone I instantly thought ‘they hate me’ or ‘they make fun of my videos’ ‘they think I’m stupid’… I felt exhausted trying to keep up this bubbly, funny, happy façade. …
The culture of Instagram fame, sexism in media, the sexual objectification of women, the deception in paid posts, the idea that skinny starving girls get ahead, that if you’re born into the body I have – you get a career out of it, you get an invite into all the parties, everyone wants to take you to lunch, everyone says they love you… I lived that life and felt so alone, shallow and lost… BECAUSE I WAS.
What runs through your head as you read Essena’s story?
We all create façades, pictures of ourselves that we present to the world that aren’t real. When we pretend like our lives are great, we can easily cause others to be jealous and envious of us. How do you think the façade you create might be impacting others?
Have someone read Hebrews 12:1-2
We stay in our lane, we fulfill our purpose, we do what we're created to do, and we keep our eyes focused on Jesus. If you ever ran track, you know why this is so important. The fastest way to lose the race is to look to the side. To win the race you just keep your eyes on the finish line. You keep your eyes on the prize. You keep your eyes on Jesus. You run with perseverance.
When someone else wins their race, what do we do? We celebrate them. This does not come naturally, but when we do it, it’s a huge win! We celebrate God's blessings. We cheer them on. We may even learn from them. If they're doing something that's a little bit better, rather than become jealous or envious, we need to ask, "What can I learn from what you did? How can I apply it to my own race?"
Share with the group a time where you learned something from watching someone else’s race.
We don't want to compare with the heart that would ever say, "I'm less than," because their win doesn't bring inner validation to us. Jesus, pleasing him, serving him, is the only thing that does, running with purpose in every single step, purpose in every step.
Go around the group and share a unique purpose, calling or talent you believe God has given you.
Think of an encouraging truth you can use to remind yourself of your own God-given talents and character traits. The next time you catch your mind starting to go down the path of comparison and envy, you'll have a plan to cling to!
After everyone has shared, spend time in prayer thanking God for creating you, that you are His masterpiece. Celebrate your groups’ unique gifts. Confess where you have envied or compared and ask him to help you to stop.
When you can’t let go of stuff, it will eat you up – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If we can inspire, help, equip or challenge people to just LET IT GO, we can change our overall well-being in life.
What is your favorite activity to do in the fall with your family and friends?
The OC Register reported that here in the West we are healthy, affluent, and have a great sense of freedom, yet levels of anxiety and depression have risen 20 percent! Nearly one-third of adolescents and adults struggle with anxiety.
For many of us, our lives didn’t turn out the way we hoped they would. In the midst of our health and affluence, something has happened to us that is turning our emotions inside out. We find ourselves depressed and anxious, and we don’t know why.
How do the statistics in the Register resonate (or not) with the people you encounter at work, in your neighborhood, at the gym, and among your friends and family?
Have someone read Genesis 29:14-30.
Jacob longs for Rachel but is deceived by Laban into marrying Leah. This deceit creates a web of lies, rejection, and heartache for everyone.
At one time in our life each of us has thought “If I could just have that man or woman, my life would be fulfilled!” Earnest Becker said that The Romantic Solution is “The belief that if we can find that one true love, all our feelings of insignificance, purposelessness, and meaninglessness will dissipate.”
This happens with more than relationships. We believe a job, a new car or a bigger house is the solution that will fill that hole in our souls. We all have an inner emptiness that says if I can find ______ then ________ will be gone or the problem will be solved. The abuse I suffered will no longer hurt me. The overwhelming sense of failure will disappear. We tell ourselves that if that thing happens, we will matter and not feel so alone anymore.
What are some of the things you have tried to fill an empty place with? What was the result?
Have someone read Genesis 29:31-35.
Leah lives in the shadow of her sister. She is referred to in the Bible as having weak eyes while Rachel was lovely. That is painful to read because we’ve all felt like this before. We look at our Instagram feed and fight feelings of envy or hopelessness.
Leah was chasing the same lies Jacob was, believing if he would love her things would be ok. We get a picture of how Leah is feeling through the names she gives to her sons. We can sense her anxiety and longing. The names of her first three sons symbolize her emptiness and longing, but she names her fourth child Judah saying, ”Now I will praise the Lord!” Something had changed. Leah moved from searching to a sense of peace at where she was.
When is a time in your life when you’ve moved from a place of anxiety to a place where you had God’s peace?
No matter who you are or how good your life seems, apart from God there will always be disappointment. There is a God-shaped void that only He can fill. And when we turn to anything else to fill that void, whether good things like work or family or serving, or bad things like drugs or alcohol, you will always be let down when you discover that thing cannot ultimately satisfy.
Jesus is the only one who can satisfy. You were created for relationship with God, a real relationship that is full of passion, pursuit, intimacy, community, and a thirst for more. This weekend Pastor Jeff said “You cannot feel an eternal void by temporary means. You will never know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.”
Have someone read Isaiah 55:8-9
Anxiety creeps in and overwhelms us when we think we know better than God how our lives should look. The problem is that ultimately, we cannot control even our own lives. Certainly, we influence what happens in our lives by the decisions we make, but you have no control over the circumstances you were born into and you certainly can’t keep yourself from dying. You can raise your kids well, but you can’t make them be upstanding productive adults. You can work hard, but the place you work might still close its doors. We can influence, but we cannot control.
Part of combatting our anxiety is trusting that God is in control. We can live life to the fullest when we rely on Jesus.
When we live each day in God’s word, praying, pursuing intimacy with Him and seeking community, our lives will be transformed, not always because our circumstances are different but because we are different. It is possible to be in the absolute worst circumstances of your life and still be at peace and in the center of God’s will.
Sometimes God will even use difficult circumstances to draw us closer to Himself. People often find God in the midst of their attempt to recover from an addiction, after losing a loved one, or after being laid off from a job. When things are going well, we think we can do it on our own, but when the chips are down, we turn to God.
What is one time God used difficult circumstances in your life to draw you closer to Him?
Every time you gain that which you thought would save you, the hole in your heart just gets bigger. Sometimes God lets us have what we want, and we realize it isn’t going to satisfy us. Other times He strips those things away.
Nobody said this better than C.S. Lewis.
“Most people, if they learned how to look into their hearts would know that they want something that this world can never give them. These are longings which no marriage, no travel, no learning will ever satisfy. There is always something that we have grasped at that first moment of longing that just fades away with reality. The thing we thought we were going to get in the new experience always evades us.” –C.S. Lewis
Who in your life needs help dealing with anxiety, and how can you come alongside them and support them?
End your discussion time by reading Psalm 63:1-3 together.
Break into groups of two or three and spend time in prayer.
Leah took the most passionate desires of her heart and put them on the Lord. Share something in your life that is causing you anxiety and that you need to let go of and give to God.
If you find yourself struggling with anxiety, consider joining one of our Care and Recovery groups that are designed to help you work through difficult seasons of life.
Note to Leaders:
This week’s message and discussion might bring up issues people need help with. When people are walking through difficult seasons of life, they will turn to their small group and to us as their leaders for support.
If there are people in your group who need support beyond what you are able to provide, please reach out to your coach or director. We can provide referrals to counselors or help get people connected with one of our Care & Recovery groups.
When you can’t let go of stuff, it will eat you up physically, emotionally and spiritually. If we can inspire, help, equip or challenge people to just LET IT GO, we can change our overall well-being in life.
What’s a song that takes you back to high school? What specific memories does it make you think of?
Our past—things that happened to us or choices we made—triggers memories, much like the soundtrack of our high school years. Only some of these aren’t fond memories but moments we are deeply ashamed of. We were wounded, and we can’t let it go.
Many of us (even those of us who would call ourselves Jesus Followers) carry so much heavy stuff around that wreaks havoc in our lives. These things affect us emotionally, physically, relationally. They follow us to work and impact the way we do our jobs. They filter the way we make decisions. We find ourselves unable to give or receive love, and the stuff we refuse to let go of literally makes us sick.
When is a time that holding on to something made a significant impact on you?
“The difference between guilt and shame is very clear in theory. We feel guilty for what we do. We feel shame for what we are. A person feels guilty because he DID something wrong. A person feels shame because he IS something wrong.” –Lewis Smedes
It is unresolved guilt that becomes shame. Many of us have seen that play out in our own lives and in the lives of our family members. Jesus knew this, which is why he made such a big deal out of forgiving those who have hurt us.
Shame attacks your core identity and starts to redefine you to you. It changes you. You no longer see yourself as a unique, priceless, deeply loved child of God but as someone who is not worthy enough.
When that happens, our true identity gets hacked and we stop believing in our God-given worthiness and start trying to prove our worth by constantly striving, performing, pleasing, and perfecting. You start believing lies that the enemy tells you and start engaging in negative self-talk with words like “I’m so stupid… I’m so ugly… I’m so unwanted.”
We bargain with ourselves saying “If I was thinner or richer or _______________ I would be good enough.” We start to believe that God created us as unlovable rather than unique and deeply loved.
What are some of the things you do to try to prove your worth to yourself and to those around you?
The truth is, we don’t have to do anything to prove our worth. Jesus did that when he died on the cross for us. We’re worth the price of the Son of God Himself.
In her book “The Gift of Imperfection,” Brene Brown—author, researcher, and professor—shared Ten Guideposts for Wholehearted Living:
1. Cultivating authenticity: letting go of what people think
2. Cultivating self-compassion: letting go of perfectionism
3. Cultivating a resilient spirit: letting go of numbing and powerlessness
4. Cultivating gratitude and joy: letting go of scarcity and fear of the dark
5. Cultivating intuition and trusting faith: letting go of the need for certainty
6. Cultivating creativity: letting go of comparison
7. Cultivating play and rest: letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth
8. Cultivating calm and stillness: letting go of anxiety as a lifestyle
9. Cultivating meaningful work: letting go of self-doubt and “supposed to”
10. Cultivating laughter, song, and dance: letting go of being cool and “always in control”
These guideposts to whole-hearted living describe what Jesus called life to the full. They involve letting go of those things that keep us in unhealthy patterns and unhealthy ways of thinking, allowing us to embrace the life Jesus came to give us.
Which one of the ten guideposts do you need to cultivate in your life, and what steps do you need to take to cultivate it?
Have volunteers read Hebrews 10:11-18 and 1 John 2:28-3:3.
Shame tells us that God can never forget what we've done., but the words of God that we read here tell us a better story.
What keeps you from believing that God loves you enough to forget your sins?
Have a volunteer read Psalm 32:1-5.
David prayed to God after he made what might have been the worst mistake of his life. He got a married woman pregnant and then had her husband killed to cover it up.
When David hid what he had done, he found himself wasting away, but when he came clean God forgave him, even though his actions were horrible. David approached God with vulnerability rather than allowing shame keep him from being in God’s presence. Our lives would be so much better if we would be let go and experience God’s grace and healing in our lives.
Does your own experience resonate with David’s? Do you find that when you’re honest about your past it brings forgiveness and healing? Why do you think that is?
Have volunteers read Hebrews 10:19-39, 1 John 3:4-10, and Romans 6.
No matter what we’ve done, no matter what is in our past, Jesus offers us hope, healing, and forgiveness. God calls us not to continue in the things that have caused such deep shame in our lives but to give them up and to follow His plan and His path, which leads us into lives that are satisfying and full of purpose and meaning.
What is one step you can take that would bring honor and glory to God?
Mike shared with us five simple steps to help us let go of our hurts, guilt and shame.
Evaluate myself with fearless honesty
Think a whole new way
Encourage others with my life and story
We don’t have to let shame rule our lives. We can do what David did and approach God, be honest, admit our brokenness and lean into Him. He wants us to be free, and when we find freedom, we get to share our story.
Remember that God doesn’t just forgive our sins. He also removes the shame that accompanies them.
When we refuse to own our story, our story ends up owning us. It doesn’t have to be that way. When we own our story and get honest with God and other people, we’ll find grace, freedom, and unfailing love.
Here are several steps we can take to let go of our shame. Have each person in the group select one to implement and share with the group how everyone can support him/her in that step. Let everyone know that they don’t need to share any more than they are comfortable with about what they are struggling with, and remind them there is no shame in getting meeting with a counselor or otherwise getting help. Quite the opposite, it’s something to be proud of.
Cultivate one of the ten guideposts for wholehearted living by implementing the steps you identified earlier.
Create your own spiritual soundtrack. Find Scriptures to that address the shame you are facing. Read these Scriptures each day. You might write them on sticky notes and put them on your mirror or on your dashboard. Internalize these passages. When guilt and shame creep back in, focus on what God says. Bring a verse to share with your group next week.
Share about the shame you’re experiencing with someone else in the group. Sharing our stories brings freedom. Being willing to be vulnerable takes courage but when we share our stories with people who respond with empathy and understanding, shame won’t survive.
Meet with a Christian counselor who can help you process the shame you are feeling. Your small group leader can connect you with someone from our small groups team who can refer you to a counselor.
Join one of our Care and Recovery groups so that you can get help with the issue you are facing and ultimately find hope and healing.