Last year, I read one of Brennan Manning’s books, called The Furious Longing of God. One of the most impacting things I read there had to do with the power that each one of us has—albeit oftentimes latent power—to give one another the “courage to be.”

Every human being desperately needs to be understood. To be known and to be loved. Ultimately, this love can only be pure when it is being received from the Creator. But each one of us has an opportunity, in the lives of those around us, to love others in a way that offers freedom for transparency and vulnerability.

The only way this works is if we are rid of our judgments and expectations of those around us. We must somehow come to the place where we hold each one with open arms and allow them to be exactly  who they are in this moment. Both perceived weakness and perceived strength must be welcome.

Just as we must learn to live lives that are not serving the expectations of others, if we want to truly embrace this freedom that Christ purchased for us, we must also let go of the expectations that we have placed on those around us. We have to allow Him to expose the thoughts that go on in the recesses of our minds; those thoughts that size up the people around us and cause us to secretly raise our eyebrows and wag our fingers in disapproval.

So many of us, without even realizing it, have appointed ourselves as the morality police and wear our gold star like some kind of symbol of governing authority over the people with whom we spend our days. If they suffer, we can’t help but wonder if it’s because of the way they gossip or that nasty smoking habit they have.

We preach the gospel of grace but we live our lives under the law of sewing and reaping—of performance and earned privilege. We’re so worried people are going to be flagrantly wasteful with the precious grace by which we are saved, that we forget what grace even is.

If we hope to see people set free by the love that aches to be released from within us, then first we must stop living by the law of shame. We must rise above the way of religion and embrace the reality that Christ Jesus has already paid for our freedom and for theirs. That grace, is by definition, undeserved favour.

From the beginning, shame separated us from God. Shame is at the root of so much of our pain; our rebellion; our anger; our self-hatred; our fear.

Shame is lifted when we choose to embrace and live inside of His relentless and undeserved love, and when we choose to offer that same love, which has been offered to us, to those precious ones around us.

We use shame to manipulate one another to conform to our rules and expectations, and we allow the enemy to hold us down under a blanket of our own shame that clouds our vision and forces us to our knees when we were made to fly.

We have an incredible opportunity—YOU have an incredible opportunity—to stand up and walk out of the shame that has imprisoned generations of His precious children. I believe that freedom will be inseparably linked to the way we love others. The degree with which we allow His grace to flow through us toward those around us will be the degree to which we experience that grace ourselves.

True freedom comes when we are able to stand in the light. When we find a safe place in which we can truly be ourselves—truly express our doubts and our fears—where we can be honest about what we enjoy and where we struggle—where we can be embraced by kindness and acceptance and be looked upon with love and the absence of judgment.

The Father embraces the son covered in stench, and welcomes him home. The Son embraces the girl who soaks him in poignant perfume oil that wreaks of a whorehouse.

This is who we are. Foul-smelling and dripping in the excrement wrought by independence. That is who we all are. And that is who He loves—passionately and infinitely.

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