Shame and Grace Part 15 - Turning Around

Apr 16

Shame and Grace Part 15 - Turning Around

Tue, 04/16/2013 - 07:27 — Thabo Mokete

Very often it is obvious what behaviour must change when it has been found unacceptable. But it tends to be less obvious what conditions must shift on the inside for that change to take place.

In other words, people are often certain about the results they don't want, but less clear about the process that brings about those results. This is one of the reasons for repeated moral failures. 

Any unwanted behaviour is preceded by a state of things1 within that finds sympathy with an external triggering event. The external event is what we call temptation. For Eve, in the garden of Eden, the conversation with the snake was the stimulus that set in motion what was already loaded within her.

Temptation is only as strong as the corresponding state of things on the inside. If a woman flashes her knee at some gentleman, and he is fully charged in that area, then this is a big trigger for him. However, if he has no concern whatsoever about issues relating to knees, she could flash it a hundred times, and it provokes nothing in him. This is an extreme example but it makes quite the point.

Temptation comes on its own, it arises from an unforeseen event. These incidents are the necessary instruments of truth about the heart's condition. How else could we see our own hidden deficiencies and the need we have of healing grace? They bring about a test of the situation for our benefit so we can see where we fall short of well-being.

As we have already said before, behaviour is always a sympathy with the condition of the heart. When the heart is not right, the actions will reveal just that.

On the inside is where things happen first: insecurity, low self-esteem, timidity, fear of being alone, need of approval by others, hunger for love of others, anxiety of meaninglessness, bitterness from grief stored over the years, judgement of others and of self, holding on to resentment (unwillingness to forgive), the anxiety of guilt, ingratitude, greed, entitlement, obsession with winning (fear of mediocrity), to name only a few.

We can fill pages with the things that happen inside a person that could be considered the “middle layer of human sicknesses”. They happen before the acts that take place on the outside. These internal states then are like branches on which the fruit, behaviour grows.

What a person does therefore is to say 'I want to stop taking other people's money illegally”, or “I want to put a stop on bad relationships”, or “I want to stop hurting myself and others around me”. This is all good, but has the person checked the engine on the inside? One may remove the fruit off the branch and indeed there'll be no fruit for a while. However, as long as the branch is alive it is capable of producing even more fruit.

Thus, for every moral fall and misbehaving, there is that corresponding state within that needs correction. All these points of deviation from the truth within are a result of a demonic split in the soul. They represent a separation of the person from reality.  Correction then is the bringing of the soul back to right orientation with the truth, healing these sicknesses within.

It becomes clear then that the real turnaround or repentance is not to be found at the point where one has misbehaved, but at that place within where one is stuck in a particular sickness of the soul. So, turning around is about the sickness in the heart, not the behaviour.3

I may find myself walking a particular street of town every night, even though I find that unacceptable. It may bring me guilt and shame every time I've walked it. I may tell myself I must stop doing it, but if I am not opening up about the condition in me that makes it necessary for me to walk that street, it will keep happening. Over and over again.

Most of the time, people are in denial about the things that are happening for them, and thus never get to know the real reason why such things are happening. Denial is what makes it possible for unacceptable behaviour to carry on for years, even decades.

Then by grace a certain triggering event may come and set off an unexpected meltdown that compels one to come out of denial. That is a moment of opening up a conversation about what is happing and bringing an end to the lies. It is time to start shaking hands with the truth, no matter the consequences. The desire for correction becomes honest and true, without the pride of "I can change my own ways".

Opening up at first will necessarily bring an experience of deep shame, even insecurity. But we must not stay too long at the point of remorse and sorrow for wrongful acts. For turning around is not a matter of how much pain one feels, but of how much one desires correction.

We cannot avoid being heartbroken about bad behaviour, it is the necessary feeling, but it is not the sense of being punished that counts. For the joy of heaven is not in the punishment of a wicked person, but in the sinner that has turned around from the error of his or her ways.4

In the open conversation we open up our hearts to divine light. By ourselves we are not able to search our own hearts. The mind cannot search the heart, neither can the conscious search the unconscious. It can only ask questions and wait for answers. The open conversation is the humbling of the ego and desiring correction from above.

The sincere prayer for correction is the prayer whose answer has already been guaranteed.5 God works on the heart by bringing a message of unconditional acceptance, reconciling6 and renewing it7. The divine Spirit searches the human spirit8 and shines light on it. He brings awareness of the conditions within that make necessary the behaviour.

The grace of God works in limitless and undefined ways to bring about the truth of the state of things within and the reasons for certain behaviours. Sometimes it may be through professional help, learning, instruction (preaching), sometimes in the quiet times of being alone. One thing is sure, once one truly desires correction, the light will shine through about the state of things within.

This correction of things on the inside is what we could not do for ourselves. God had to regenerate the heart and create a new condition within.3 The greatest prayer one can ever pray is that sincere desire for the correcting Light in one's innermost being. This is the point of turning around.


1. Mark 7: 20-23
2. Katie, Byron; Mitchell, Stephen (2008-12-26). Loving What Is. Random House UK. Kindle Edition.
3. Psalms 51:1-17
4. Luke 15:10
5. 1 John 1:8-10
6. 2 Corinthians 5: 17-19
7. Tillich, Paul. The New Being. New York: Charles Scribnerís Sons , 1955.
8. Romans 8:26-27