Beauty for Ashes: Overcoming Shame

As we were getting the boys ready for bed, I caught my oldest son, MJ, watching inappropriate videos on his mom’s cellphone—something he knows he’s not supposed to do. To make matters worse, when I confronted him about it, he lied to me.

“I just picked up mom’s phone to check the time,” an attempt to cover his disobedience.

Seeing his sweet, innocent spirit give in to the temptation to lie to his father pierced my heart.

My first response was anger, but as my emotions settled in, I was hurt.

Was he afraid to tell me the truth?

Had I done something to provoke his fear?

As these thoughts flooded me, I heard a gentle whisper, “You do the exact same thing.”

Then, I realized that what my son did was not unique to our relationship. It wasn’t even unique to my son. Since the beginning of time, mankind has deflected fault as a way to hide their shame.

Truthfully, my son’s response reflected my own reaction in so many situations when I try to cover up for an error: I hide my shame by lying to my Father.

Trading Beauty for Ashes

Shame is segregating by nature. Since the juice of the fruit ran down Eve’s chin in the Garden, shame has been seeking to separate man from God.

It wants you believe that you’re on an island–that you’re alone. And, it’s suffocating.

It seeks to cover you like a blanket. It clouds your judgement and causes you to justify everything as a way to vindicate yourself.

And its evil twin, guilt, sits upon on our shoulders, weighing us down with its lies.

Today, if you’re burdened by the weight of shame and guilt, I want you to know that there’s hope.

One of my favorite passages in all of scripture is a promise from the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah. Interestingly enough, when Jesus began his ministry, these were the first words He spoke in the temple.

“(God) has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.”

Friends, I have learned that the only thing powerful enough to pull the blanket of shame away is the truth of the Gospel. In my life, and in the lives of those I love, I have seen it trade beauty for ashes.

Whatever it is in your past or your present that attempts to cloak you in shame, I encourage you to stand firm in the hope that, in Christ, there is no more shame.


Because of grace, shame cannot survive in the heart of a believer. Grace is the reason that Jesus went to the cross—for the restoration of our shame.

Grace is the only thing strong enough to cover the shroud of shame. (share that on Twitter)

If you’re struggling with guilt or shame today, I want you to know that you’re not alone. It has plagued all of us, including some of the most notable giants of the faith.

King David was on the run from his enemies when he penned these words:

“Those who look to him (God) are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.”

The Apostle Paul, a former Christian-killer, said it this way:

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”


When I sat down with my son, I wanted him to know that I wasn’t happy with his actions, but more than anything, I wanted to extend grace.

I looked him in the eyes and I said, “Buddy, Daddy loves you very much. And no matter what you do, I want you to know that you never have to lie to me. When you mess up, you don’t have to be afraid because you know what? Daddy messes up too. But God, who loves you and me, He promises us that we will always be forgiven when we mess up as long as we tell the truth.”

Shame told him to hang his head, but grace called him to begin raising it slowly. Then, my son looked in my eyes and said, “Ok, Dad.”

I’m not sure he fully understands, but truthfully, neither do I.

However, that doesn’t change my commitment to my son.

And it certainly doesn’t sway God’s passion for the hearts of His children.

So I will run from shame today and run to the open arms of a Father who will trade my ashes for beauty.


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4 Responses to Beauty for Ashes: Overcoming Shame

  1. David Mike August 1, 2015 at 9:56 am #

    So powerful! Thank you for this message Matt!

  2. Athena Moberg, CPC August 4, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

    Matt, I am grateful for you allowing The Lord to use you in my life. Bless you and your family today. (and a very sincere happy birthday to your son, Matthew…he and my wonderful husband share the same birthday) Aloha from Maui, Athena Moberg

    • Matt Ham August 5, 2015 at 5:20 am #

      That is awesome, Athena. God is good. Happy Birthday to your husband as well. Enjoy beautiful Maui for me 🙂

  3. Rebecca Rayfield August 6, 2015 at 7:45 pm #

    What truth! I can attest to the despair of shame. But even more so, I can testify to the restorative power of God’s grace and healing. Thank you for always sharing straight from your heart!