I was 18-years-old, working in the meat department at the Jitney Jungle grocery store. Shortly after I started, I told a lie that still haunts me today.
My co-worker Bryan had warned me to avoid the assistant manager, Bob. He said that if I wasn't careful, Bob would try to get me to work on the floor of the grocery store. Being a meat department man, I had meat to grind and ham to slice, and I didn't want to do any clean-ups on aisle nine. So I decided to do whatever it took to avoid Bob.
I successfully avoided him for my first couple of months. But then one day I was walking through the stocking room, and from behind me, I heard Bob brusquely say, "Josh, come over here."
I kept walking.
"Josh!" he yelled.
I turned around, looked at him, squinted, pointed to my ear, and said, "I'm sorry, my hearing is bad."
"Oh," he said, raising his voice, "Well, can you get these boxes off the pallet?"
"I'm sorry, what?" I said, pointing to my ear again. "It's my hearing. Can you say that again?"
Raising his voice and emphasizing each word, Bob said, "I - need - you - to - get - these - boxes!"
Again, I feigned deafness, and Bob curtly said, "Don't worry about it."
I walked away snickering to myself, proud that I had fooled Bob. And I was not ashamed of myself - yet.
I wasn't fine. I was ashamed.
"I just want to say I'm sorry - I'm really, really sorry."
Bob crossed his arms and glared at me for a moment.
"I hope you can forgive me," I said.
He turned around and walked away, and we hardly spoke ever again.
And when shame rears its menacing head, rather than try to suppress the memory, I remind Jesus of what I did. I walk through all the embarrassing, painful details with Him; and in faith, I offer Him my shame. Sometimes I'll pray for the person who was involved in what I did. And then I thank God when I remember that He didn't come to save me because I deserved it; He came to rescue a planet full of broken losers.
I find great relief in remembering my place in His kingdom, not as one who deserves entry, but one who needed a Savior to make me worthy to be with Him. It doesn't mean the memories don't come back to haunt me - believe me, just writing about this topic has brought up more than a few of them. But in the face of God's love, I remember that Jesus already "endured the cross, despising its shame," (Heb. 12:2) so I don't have to.