how to find hope on the other side of your shame

Two decades ago, shame held its hand out to Aubrey Sampson after she was sexually assaulted on the school bus as a young teenager. As it did with Eve’s first bite of apple, something twisted awakened in her after that bus ride, and she began to take up residence in an identity of shame. Over the next decade, and even into marriage, Aubrey lived with the residual impact of her shame. But God never left her side. She has experienced His redemptive and healing hand, and has become a woman set free. She still has moments, like all of us, where she may have shame, but she knows, in Jesus, shame no longer has her. It’s a grace to welcome Aubrey to the farm’s front porch…

by Aubrey Sampson

A high school boyfriend once asked if I’d ever read the book of Hosea.

I had. The words he said next still wreck me.

“You remind me of Gomer.”

(I sure knew how to pick ’em.)

If you’re familiar with the story, you know that God instructed the prophet Hosea to marry an adulterous woman named Gomer. Although Gomer had many lovers, God instructed Hosea to stay faithful to her, “though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites” (Hos. 3:1).

Hosea and Gomer had three children together.

Their first son was named Jezreel, after the site of a massacre (2 Kings 10).

Their second child, a daughter, was Lo Ruhamah, meaning “not loved.”

Their third son was called Lo Ammi, “not my people.”

Theirs is definitely not the kind of story you’d want illustrated in your children’s Bibles. And Gomer is definitely not the woman you want your boyfriend to think of when he looks at you.

I don’t know your story, but I can imagine you have known, at some point in your life, what it is to feel unworthy or disqualified.

You’ve probably shed secret tears behind locked doors.

You may have allowed yourself to disappear a little bit over time.

You may have painful memories or emotions from your past.

There is a little girl in each of us who lingers.

She was the daughter who played with princess paper dolls and dreamed of the day she would don her own tiara and white flowing bridal gown. And although she never set out to, that little girl grew up to become that paper doll—flat and crumpled, a plaything with a need for repair and new clothing.

She, who was once full of life and wonder, became empty and enveloped in the shadows of her shame.

Was I Gomer? Was I a daughter of Gomer?

You remind me of Gomer. Those hard words lingered in my heart for years. But God never abandoned Israel—or Gomer:

“She decked herself with rings and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but me she forgot,” declares the Lord.

“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor [trouble] a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.”

“In that day,” declares the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master’ … I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.” (Hosea 2:13–16, 19–20)

This beautiful passage of scripture teaches that even if you have been hiding for years, God never abandons His daughters to rot in their shame.

He romances you.

He draws you back to Himself.

He speaks tenderly to you.

Where you had trouble, you will once again have hope. That which has been stolen will be replaced. 

Doors that have been locked will be thrown wide open.

What shame has broken, He will restore.

No matter how shame has wasted and wounded you, your Husband-King will pick up your lifeless body and breathe in something new. He will care for your injuries and tend to your broken heart, to the little girl inside.

He will nourish you with living water, with the bread and wine of His body.

He will give you rest and then lift you to your feet again.

You will rise, clothed in shame no more.

Yours is a bridal gown of righteousness, justice, compassion, and restorative love.

God, who renews all things, eventually gave Gomer and Hosea’s children new names.

Their sons, once known for punishment and repudiation, He renamed “My People.”

Their only daughter, known as unloved, He gave the new name “My Loved One.” Born into shame, loneliness, and misery, she was reborn as a woman deeply known and loved by her God.

And so it is with us.

You may have been Gomer.

You may have been that paper doll, used, marred, and tossed aside.

You may have been a shadow of yourself.

But in the name of Jesus, your Overcomer, your Shame Remover, you have been given a new name.

Jesus says,

You are Mine.

You are Loved.

You are New.

You are Radiant.

You may have been naked and ashamed, but in Jesus, you are clothed in courage, confidence, and dignity.

You never again have to stoop in shame, because He is the lifter of your head.

You will never remind Him of Gomer.

 

 

 


Aubrey Sampson is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and is passionate about empowering women to experience freedom from shame. Her first book is Overcomer: Breaking Down the Walls of Shame and Rebuilding Your Soul. Aubrey is a pastor’s wife, a church planter, a ministry event speaker, and a stay-at-home-mom to three sons. (which is to say she spends most days in her pajamas drinking too much coffee). 

Written with a strong biblical theology, humorous authenticity, as well as true-life stories shared by women of all ages, in Overcomer, Aubrey equips readers with tools for an ongoing spiritual discipline of shamelessness. For any woman whose self-worth has been stolen, the wise teachings in Overcomer will give you the courage, in Jesus, to reclaim it.

[ Our humble thanks to Zondervan for their partnership in today’s devotion ]

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