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He has set me free from shame and enables me to walk with HHH — head held high.

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“Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered in shame.” Psalm 34:5

When my sister was a toddler, she accompanied our dad (and our dog, Charlie) to the veterinarian’s office. While they waited, a man entered with a Great Dane. The dog was enormous — much larger than my sister — but very kind. He leaned his giant face close to Stacie’s to say hello, but she pulled back in fear.

“Rufus!” his owner scolded softly. “You scared that little girl!” A remorseful Rufus dropped his head between his paws. He felt terrible.

Shame is a powerful thing.

Rufus, I feel your pain, buddy. 

I, too, sometimes drop my head in shame. I cower in insecurity, in fear, in the oppressive feeling that I’m not enough. I hold others at arm’s length to avoid vulnerability — so they won’t see my imperfections — while I work to earn their approval and my worth. I hide my gifts and calling, and hang my head — metaphorically and literally — because shame is a powerful thing.

But shame is never from God, and condemning words aren’t His voice. God doesn’t lower my head — He lifts it!

HHH (Head Held High)Last week, I wrote three large letters on a post-it note, and stuck it by my desk. “HHH” reminded me of a passage in Leviticus:

I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you.
I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt
so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians;
I broke the bars of your yoke
and enabled you to walk with heads held high. (Leviticus 26:11-13)

Heads held high! HHH. Since God Himself dwells within me — since His very presence is closer than my next breath — how can I be insecure or afraid? If He is my God and I belong to Him, why, then, should I seek man’s praise? Why do I compare myself to others, instead of finding myself in Him? And since God has set me free … from sin, from oppression, from death, from myself … why don’t I walk in the abundant life that He died to give?

He has broken the bars of my yoke!

He has set me free from shame.

And — HHH! — He enables me to walk with head held high.

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Amy Storms is a wife, mom, and writer in Joplin, Missouri. An Oklahoma girl at heart, she lives with her pastor-husband Andy, their kids Nathan, Anne, and Molly, and about a hundred other "sons" in a dorm at her beloved alma mater, Ozark Christian College. Along with guacamole and Dr. Pepper, words are some of her very favorite things. She loves to read words, craft them on the page, and, of course, say them. Too many of them.

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by Amy Storms time to read: 2 min