Rose Folsom reminds herself, and us, how checking in with God wards off the voice of the enemy and keeps us peaceful inside.
In you, Lord, I take refuge: let me never be put to shame. (Psalm 31:2)
Sounds good, but what kind of shame are we talking about? Does it mean I'll never burn the Thanksgiving turkey again or press “Reply All” when my snarky comment was meant for only one person?
It means that feeling guilty before God is the only kind that counts in the end. “Good guilt” is always caused by following our plans without checking in with God first. Guilt that we stepped into a mess because we ignored or forgot to ask for his guidance. Guilt can be healthy if we have sinned and our conscience nudges us to confess it.
Shame is different from guilt. The voice of shame is not from God—it’s the voice of the enemy trying to undermine our God-given worth and value, which no one can take away.
The psalmist reminds us how much effort we sometimes put into avoiding shame at the “human” level—avoiding shame while pursuing human praise! But is that really important to God? Jesus and His Mother were willing to endure the shame of being holy in a corrupt world so that they could live out God’s greater plan.
The psalmist says:
Free me from the net they have set for me. (Psalm 31:5)
A trap we can fall into too easily is treating our time as our own. A habit of plowing ahead with our to-do list without checking in with God can lead to needless anxiety and, yes, shame.
When we’re frazzled by a long to-do list, we’re like the psalmist:
Rescue me from my enemies,
from the hands of my pursuers. (Psalm 31:16b)
Do we realize that when we forget to ask for God’s guidance, our enemies start to hound us with lies like, “You’re not enough,” or “Nobody loves you or appreciates what you do.”
The psalmist writes,
I hear the whispers of the crowd. (Psalm 31:14a)
And often the “crowd” shaming us is the prideful voices in our own head, "I should be more, I should be doing more. I should be different than who God made me."
Pride can make us see our gifts and time as “mine,” so we use those gifts to avoid being criticized or gain praise from others (which can be stressful) rather than following God’s gentle voice (which brings peace).
Sometimes the hardest thing to hear is, I love you more than you can imagine just as you are. Come—take my hand and follow me. That is the voice of God, and it is the truth.
The psalm continues:
You will not abandon me into enemy hands,
but will set my feet in a free and open space. (Psalm 31:9)
Only in our humble moments do we understand how listening to God and following His will is the only freedom worth having.
It takes courage to look away from our to-do list and turn to God during the day. But if we do, we can sing, free from shame, with the psalmist:
Be strong and take heart, all who trust in the Lord. (Psalm 31:25)
Lord, let me check in with You as I plan and carry out my day. You have given me gifts, including my time—but they can’t lead to any good if I leave You out. Let me cooperate with you and “I will rejoice and be glad in your kindness.”
Copyright 2022 Rose Folsom
Images: Deposit Photos, licensed by author
About the Author
Rose Folsom is founder of VirtueConnection.com, where she helps Catholics get closer to God by discovering how to practice virtues like patience and forgiveness. Join her membership group, Virtue Circle. She’s a convert and Lay Dominican who speaks, blogs, and leads retreats fueled on prayer and York peppermint patties. She and her husband, Fred, live in Silver Spring, Maryland.