I grew up in a shame and honor-based culture where my behavior and life style would define who I was. I also believed I needed to prove to myself and to others my worth. Growing up, my identity was wrapped around being a middle child who had to compete to be seen and gain approval. It wasn't until the gospel transformed me from the inside out that I realized I was a child of God already and did not have to work so hard to strive to live for myself and others because what was given to me was given freely.
So let me back up a little, I have learned so many great things throughout my life and was given the best love, nurture, and guidance from my parents. My parents were the ones who helped shape my life and always pointed me back to God, for that I am truly grateful. However, what I did with these good things was turned them into ultimate things. I had set a drive and goal in me to want to be better than everyone else. I wanted people to know how good I was, how well I did in school, how great my job was, and how much holier I was (or thought I was) in comparison to others. Life to me was to be in competition with others and keep up with "The Jones" while being a "good Christian".
It was revealed to me one by one how fear, shame, and pride ruled over my life and how these things made me lose sight of what I needed the most, a Lord and Savior. First Fear, and the feeling of failure or letting others down or feeling judged scared me. Fear and insecurity was a hidden underlying thing I believed I had to mask rather than learn to trust in God. Shame, something that I didn't want to bring upon myself or my family, so I felt like I had to work harder and perform better in order to gain favor from others. Pride, somehow when I worked hard, things came naturally to me and I never really had to work too hard. This led me to believe I did these things all by myself. I started believing I was my own god and savior. This ultimately led me to feeling a sense of self-righteousness. The thing is, because I was a "good girl" and a "good Christian", and by all means I was not perfect but I did not realize these good things were turned into an idol of my own self instead of giving thanks to God and turning towards Him.
It wasn't until I moved to Canada that I believed God revealed one of the biggest and life changing lessons I would learn and it has shaped me, humbled me, and built character in me to be all about Him and not myself.
As my husband and I sold our belongings and moved to Canada to follow Jesus's call for our family, another thing was happening inside. I felt entitled, like God owed me something for doing His will. My heart was all in the wrong place. When we pulled up into our home for the next three years, I was ashamed I would be living in what felt like a small bear cave, downstairs in a tiny and dark basement home in a big city I knew nothing of. I was broke and out of a job. There were days where I wasn't sure if we would have a place to live or enough money to buy food. Thankfully, through God's grace I picked up a book called, "The Prodigal God" by Tim Keller. This book, in my opinion, has one of the best break down of what we know as the “Prodigal Son” parable in the Bible, Luke 15: 11-32. It was when I read this book, I realized how much I was able to relate to both the younger and older brother, but mostly the older brother. I always thought that he was far off better because he did everything a "good son" would have done. That's how I viewed my life. It wasn't until I realized that his heart was not in the right place. When his father went out looking for him, he was upset his brother was receiving a huge welcome back party and yet he was the one who stayed and did everything. He and I had a heart of pride, self-righteousness, and self-centeredness. God does not owe us anything.
Living in Canada created a shift in my thinking. When I had everything, it was hard for me to receive other people's love and kindness, due to pride. However, when I truly had nothing, I had to trust in God and He brought the most amazing people into my life in Canada and back in the states. It was because of them, I saw Christ through their care for my family.
This last part ties into how my fear, shame, and pride was overcome. I remembered the time Bruce and I met, I had a conversation with him about the gospel and told him how everyone at church knew about the gospel because we lived in the "Southern Bible Belt". He challenged me, in a good way, saying I could not assume the gospel, nor could I assume people knew the gospel just because we all went to church or said that we were Christians. It wasn't until his challenge for me to remind myself daily the gospel of who Jesus is, that I realized how much I did not understand the depth of what He had done for me. I was in need of hearing the gospel just as much as those who have never heard of the gospel. Just because I am a "Christian " doesn't mean I don't remind myself daily. Truth be told, if I don’t remind myself of the gospel daily, I’ll start leaning on myself and my own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths"
I also needed to remind myself how God loved me so much He sent Jesus to die for me and my sins.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."
It was through a daily reminder, I realized how much I needed Jesus more than all this world. Something triggered inside me to realize I needed to stop living for my own selfish gains or be brought down by my insecurities but instead learn to hear, trust, and obey God’s call for me by seeing my identity and destiny in Christ. There's this song I used to sing with a band I was a part of, 67generation, "Jesus lover of my soul, (it's all about You)" by Paul Oakley and this song rings truer today than it has ever in the past. I now realize that it was never about me but being alive and living in this world was all about bringing glory to God, pointing others to Him, and enjoying Him. Jesus was the one who saved me from myself. He was the one to set me free from my fear, shame, and pride.
Who would have thought there would be so many layers. Are you struggling with some type of fear? Were you born in a shame base culture or feel no self-worth due to shame? And does pride mask something deeper? If you have answered yes, then there is hope and you are not alone. You can find freedom and be set free as I was set free. I would encourage you, if you haven't already, to look outside of yourself and see Jesus. He will meet you right where you are. Here are some verses to remind all of us.
*For fear, He says in Isaiah "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
*For shame, Psalm 103:2-4 "Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with loving kindness and compassion"
*For pride, Proverbs 11:2 " When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom."
Keller, Timothy (2008). The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith. New York, NY: Penguin Group Inc.
Douachi (N. Xf. Bruce) Yang
Douachi Yang has been married to Pastor Bruce (Xf. Tswv Zoo) Yang for 13 years. They have a daughter named Evangeleen (Evie) who is 8 years old. Douachi has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Pastor Bruce and Douachi are currently planting a church in Sacramento called Gospel City Church. Douachi has a passion for coming alongside women and pointing them to Jesus. She enjoys singing and playing the piano. In her free time, she enjoys watching movies and spending time with her family.