Jan 26, 2021 • Written by Heidi Scott
I met my husband at a pool party. Horror of horrors— he was sitting on my towel! I saw him just sitting there comfortably on that towel and so, of course, I decided to wait it out in the pool. He would have to move eventually, right? I was too self-conscious to step out of the pool in my swimsuit and ask him to please move.
Eventually the cold got the best of me and at dusk I forced myself to take brave steps toward my towel and the guy sitting on it. I couldn’t even look him in the eye when I blurted out “you’re on my towel!” You see, I was embarrassed to be seen that way—shivering, mascara-smudged, limp-haired, and curves in all the wrong places: awkward, uncovered and ashamed.
We all have those feelings of being unacceptable, unworthy and unpolished.
And for good reason. We all have regrets, those times when we messed up. Maybe it’s a BIG FAIL or a hard-to-break pattern of mess-ups. Feeling bad about doing wrong is a good thing. God wants us to have sorrow over sin. But there’s a difference between Godly sorrow and worldly shame. Godly sorrow leads to repentance: asking forgiveness and turning away from sin. Worldly shame leads to getting stuck in a cycle of self-focused hatred.
We see how Jesus handled someone who was stuck in worldly shame in John 21. One of Jesus’s closest friends, Peter, had betrayed him not once but three times (BIG FAIL). We can only guess his thoughts and emotions in the aftermath.
Embarrassed? Ashamed? Unqualified? I can relate.
After his failure, Peter reverts to his pre-Jesus life pattern: fishing. Years before, Jesus had called Peter out of a life of fishing, but here he is in an old pattern again—fishing with his bros. After a long night of fishing (with no fish), I imagine he thought, “Boy am I a loser! I mess up everything… I can’t even fish right!” Then, a man appears on the shore and tells the guys to try again on the other side of the boat. After a huge haul (John counted 153 fish!), Peter finally realizes it was Jesus talking to them. And what does he do?
He puts on his robe and jumps in the water.
Huh? Wouldn’t you take off your robe to jump in the water? Not if you felt uncovered and ashamed. Although Peter’s first response to seeing his Savior and Friend is to cover himself, still he rushes forward toward Jesus. Then, the beautiful restoration that Jesus offers: complete forgiveness and a way forward. Jesus had work for Peter to do- to become the first leader of His church.
Often our first response when faced with our sin is to grab for an inadequate, self-made covering. Desperate to hide our sin and shame, we cover ourselves with a perfectly curated social media profile or strive to achieve the next status level in our work or neighborhood. However, when we turn away from our sin and turn to Jesus, He offers complete forgiveness, restoration, and a work for us to do. This grace Jesus offers is a beautiful thing: we can approach Him unashamed and stand before Him uncovered. He’s waiting and wanting to do it!
Back to the guy sitting on my towel… turns out I had nothing to fear. He handed me the towel with a kind smile and a gentle word. Later, several rounds of double-solitaire was the start of a lifetime of friendship and love.