The Hemorrhaging Heart


Performance-based religion.

It stems from a desire to be accepted, not rejected.
It comes from a need to be thought of as efficient, not deficient.
It consumes and penetrates the soul and becomes an idol of worship.

I’m just beginning to come to the place of calling it as it is.  Idolatry.  Looking to something other than God for acceptance.  Hoping to present a work of my hands for approval.  Wanting others to see my life and declare it good. 

That last statement gets me.  We are told to let our good works be seen as an example of living worthy of the gospel.  But, I believe the motivation for the approval is where I went wrong.  Letting others see “good works” so that they give glory to God is perfectly acceptable.  But, to gain the accolades for self…to build up self…to feel good about self…to hope others see my self as worthy…these are motives which wreak idolatry.

Only God is worthy.
Only God is good.

Yes, we like others to think well of us.  Of course we do.  We all desire acceptance.  Anyone ever read The Search for Significance?  Yet, some of us have an insatiable desire to be seen as perfect, worthy, good, acceptable, because deep within we feel deficient.  We feel flawed in our innermost being.  It comes from shame.  Illegitimate shame.

Legitimate shame for sins committed leads to repentance.  And God’s grace pours over the sinner as forgiveness is given.  To feel forgiven for sins committed is an amazing wonder.  To know God has cancelled the debt and accepts us through His Son is the most freeing feeling I’ve ever experienced.

Illegitimate shame comes from having one’s dignity diminished.  One’s worth as a human being is denied.  It comes from many sources.  The words and actions of a trusted caregiver leave indelible ink on the soul of a child.  A person who abuses that trust leaves the child feeling used.  Determining another’s “worth” and declaring it as truth for all to hear:  You are _____!   Bullying.  Tearing down another’s esteem.  The list goes on… 

These things deeply wound. 

And the wounded heart hemorrhages within the soul…

“Come to Me,
all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you.
Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle,
and you will find rest for your souls.”

To have a humble and gentle Teacher who will give rest for your soul…
…Consider Jesus.


10 responses »

  1. “I’m just beginning to come to the place of calling it as it is. Idolatry. Looking to something other than God for acceptance. Hoping to present a work of my hands for approval. Wanting others to see my life and declare it good…”

    Wow — you have presented God’s truth here, Michelle. I know myself as an “idolator” — well, a “reforming idolator”–, nevertheless these things are tough to hear. I especially am thankful for your distinction of “legitimate shame” v. “illegitimate shame”. How comforting ~ even healing ~ to have One Who invites us to come to Him for that deep rest and true acceptance that our souls so need… Thank you for sharing from your heart! God is so at work in & through you!

  2. Thank you, Gracie. I hope I “have presented God’s truth here.” I’m sharing as I learn. Illegitimate shame has been the driving force of my life for waaaaaaay too long. I’m hoping to get it understood soon.

  3. Man, this whole post is so needed in all our lives.

    “to gain the accolades for self…to build up self…to feel good about self…to hope others see my self as worthy…”

    This one hits me hard. It’s funny how we can travel down the river of de Nile (denial) and worship our selves to the point that those we want to see us as worthy can no longer stand to be around us. I’m out of that river, though I am still wet as it was a recent disembarking.

    Thanks for sharing your hemorrhaging heart with us and showing us the way. I pray that your heart heals and you continue to lead others to learn through your trials and struggles.

    Thanks again for your words …

    May God hug you.


  4. When I first started blogging; I talked about me being a perfectionist and how it often causes me to feel like a failure for not living up to Christ’s standards. I often have to remind myself that Jesus doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He wants us to rely on him and keep running the race.

  5. Hey, Pat! Coming out of denial is the first step toward recovery. It smacks hard at first, but eventually it leads to a rest that isn’t found in any other than God.

    Thank you so much for your prayers. And for your words to keep sharing. Sometimes I wonder if it’s what I’m suppose to be doing. But, it is my life…the only story I have to share.

    I pray you can feel God’s hug, too.

    Welcome, Alysa, and AMEN! The standard of perfection was never placed upon us through Christ. His yoke is easy; His burden in light. Grace is amazing! I do desire to please Him with my choices in life, but I’ve found, even if I don’t, He’s never disappointed. He knows everything about me. When I’ll walk firmly and when I’ll stumble on the path. And He still wants me! His love blows my mind. Running the race with you, Michelle.

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  7. We are judged in this world by our work based performance. While this may increase our bank account, and self esteem, it won’t heal the hemorrhaging heart. Only faith heals our soul.

    Spiritual growth will result in doing good works, not the other way around. My understanding is that what pleases the Christian God is to follow his guidance, and live our lives with love. Love people and you will be motivated to help them.

    The focus should always be on God. Keep that focus and everything else will take care of its self.

  8. Thanks, Carl. 🙂

    Hey, Ed! Really?! Now, come on! How is it that the “atheist” among us is so encouraging? Have you just learned how to say the words? No. I think it’s something deeper than just words with you. I prayed for you last night, intensely, that God would make Himself known to you in a way that you canNOT deny.

    I don’t know if you’re aware of this verse, but you paraphrased it well:

    “…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross…” ~Heb. 12:1-2

  9. “How is it that the “atheist” among us is so encouraging?”

    Faith is such an important thing, it’s what gives us the hope we need for the future, that I encourage everyone who has found theirs to keep focused on it.

    Thanks for caring enough to pray for me. Praying is an expression of love. Faith turns our lives into love.

  10. I do love you, Ed. I hope that my response didn’t sound patronizing. That was NOT at all my intention. You have been an incredible source of encouragement for me. It amazes me, when in Christian circles we’re supposed to be known by our love, that I have felt so much support from a man who does not claim to know Jesus.

    Your insights astound.

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