We are all made for connection, but many of us live with walls up and hearts closed. What would it take for us to let go and stand tall and unashamed?
I Am Found guides us in just that. This six-week Bible study on shame and identity explores how we can own our stories, trust God’s affections, and relate honestly with Him and others.
Each week begins with biblical teaching and is followed by five days of guided reflection. Drenched in Scripture, and allowing plenty of space to journal and savor biblical truths, I Am Found welcomes you on a personal journey of transformation through God’s Word.
Laura Dingman invites you to build your life on a beautiful, liberating truth: Jesus loves us in our weakness, but He doesn’t leave us there.
|Product dimensions:||7.00(w) x 9.40(h) x 0.60(d)|
About the Author
LAURA DINGMAN spends most of her time creating and leading worship experiences that help connect people with the story of God. She has served in vocational ministry as the Creative Arts Director at The Creek, a large church in Indianapolis, for over a decade. She loves to show people where their story intersects with God's story. She enjoys belting Broadway, laughing hysterically, reading great books, and living life with her favorite two people in the whole world, her husband, Matt, and her spunky daughter, Abigail. She is the author of Life Rhythms: Learning to Live in God-Centered Time and I Am Found: Quitting the Game of Hide and Seek with God, Ourselves, and Others. You can learn more about her journey and connect with her at www.lauradingman.com.
Read an Excerpt
I Am Found
Quitting The Game Of Hide And Seek With God And Others
By Laura Dingman
Moody PublishersCopyright © 2016 Laura Dingman
All rights reserved.
Fig leaves don't hide anything
INTRODUCTION TO WEEK 1
WHY DO WE HIDE?
There you are. It's middle school all over again. You're standing in the center of a crowded cafeteria. Boys and girls point fingers as they double over laughing. You can hear the sound of their laughter. Your face grows hot. You feel a slight breeze. A little colder than usual. You wonder what's going on, how you got here. What is happening? Then you look down and discover you have neglected to put on a stitch of clothing. You stand stark naked, uncovered. You re also the unfortunate centerpiece of a jam-packed middle school lunch period.
We've all had our own version of this dream at some point in time. It varies in scenario, but is rooted in similarity. The possibility of being exposed petrifies us. Our fear connects to physical exposure but reaches into other areas as well. We just don't like to be laid bare. It shames us.
It hasn't always been this way. Imagining life without this embarrassing fear seems difficult. Life without shame existed in the beginning, though its impossible for us to understand.
Let's set the stage: In the opening act of creation, God crafts beauty everywhere. A garden is planted with trees, plants, and flowers watered by rivers, lakes, and streams. Living creatures frolic, and everything is in perfect harmony, and God proclaims His creation to be good. God breathes life into Adams nostrils and man enters the scene. God proclaims it all to be very good. Not just good, as it has been every other time, but very good (Genesis 1:31).
The Creator understands the man needs a helper (Genesis 2:18). One by one, the other living creatures parade before Adam. As he names them all, each is assessed as a potential partner for him. After all are considered, no suitable helper is discovered (Genesis 2:20). So out of Adam's own flesh and bone, God designs a woman to be a perfect complement for him.
In the midst of the creation account sits a tiny verse, seemingly unimportant at first: "Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame" (Genesis 2:25). Unclothed, uncovered, man and woman walk around feeling absolutely no shame whatsoever. Granted, no one points and laughs at them, but still, disgrace and humiliation are not a part of the equation at this point. No shame. No masks. No hiding. No pointing and laughing.
Enter the serpent. His arrival on the scene changes everything. To fully comprehend the shift in the story, we have to understand a little about the serpent's nature. Genesis 3:1 says he was more "crafty" than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. The word crafty in Hebrew is 'aruwm, meaning subtle, shrewd, and sly. He isn't a crafty DIY-er, but he is an artist of sorts. He just happens to be an artful liar. With his appearance, doubt, lies, and shame enter the scene for the first time, disrupting the harmony of Eden.
He engages in a conversation with the unsuspecting woman. He inquires, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" (Genesis 3:1). At first, the question doesn't phase her. She doesn't miss a beat. She repeats God's instructions. "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die' (Genesis 3:2-3). For whatever reason Eve adds and you must not touch it," her response proves that she knows and understands full well the guidelines God gave to Adam (Genesis 2:16-17). After all, she's been living by them.
Immediately, the sly serpent makes a simple statement that changes everything: "You will not certainly die." He pronounces a half-truth. That's what makes him an artful liar. There seems to be a tiny nugget of truth in what he speaks. The woman would not die immediately after eating the fruit from this tree, but she would die eventually if she ate it. Then the crafty creature whispers to the woman, God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:5). In other words, God didn't tell you the whole truth. He's holding out on you. He's keeping from you something you could have.
Most likely, before this moment, the woman had never considered the fruit on the tree. It was off-limits, so she never even wondered what would happen if she ate it. God said to stay away, so she did. He set a boundary, and she complied without question. But now, because of the voice of the shrewd serpent, her curiosity awakens. Suddenly, she views the tree differently. "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it" (Genesis 3:6). Before her diabolical dialogue with the serpent, she thought nothing of the fruit. She was content to do as God had said. Now having spoken with the schemer, she suddenly wants what isn't hers to take. Her curiosity stirs her desire. She craves the fruit that would make her to be like God. Fearful of missing out, she wants what the serpent told her God is withholding. In her naivety, she shares her discovery with Adam and hands him a piece of fruit.
For a split second, the succulent fruit tastes delectable, sugary sweet and crisp. But the enjoyment fades instantly when shame overwhelms them. With the knowledge they have gained, they discover they are naked, exposed. Before the fruit, they were naked — they just didn't know they weren't supposed to be. They had no reason to feel ashamed. Now the desire to hide and cover their nakedness overtakes them.
In an effort to fix the problem — to conceal it — they create coverings for themselves from fig leaves. Fig leaves are about five to ten inches long and four to seven inches wide. They aren't enormous or all that sturdy. Adam and his wife sew some together anyway, attempting to camouflage themselves.
As they hear God strolling through the garden, the real game of hide and seek begins. At the sound of God's footsteps, fear hits hard and they hide from God among the trees of the garden, hoping God won't notice their new outfits.
God calls to the man and asks, "Where are you?" The all-knowing, omniscient God already knows where Adam is hiding and what has been broken in Eden, but He questions anyway, giving the man an opportunity to openly admit what's transpired — an opportunity to come clean. It takes some deeper inquiry to get to the root of the problem. Adam starts with the obvious: "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid" (Genesis 3:10). Pretty sure the fig leaf getup was a dead giveaway for that one. God digs a little deeper, giving him yet another chance to tell the truth, asking, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?" The straight answer would have been yes. "Yes, I ate from the tree. I did what You told me not to do. But Adams shame speaks up. "Well, you know that woman You put here with me? She gave me a piece of fruit from the tree and I ate it." In his humiliation, Adam cannot own his wrongdoing. He shifts the blame to the woman. Following suit, the woman blames the serpent.
The scene is no longer very good. The plot of Eden shifts. Conflict arises. The man, the woman, and the serpent face the consequences of their choices. God lays out a curse for each of them. Suffering accompanies their shame. Hardship clouds the once perfect garden. Hope is distant, and shame is very near.
Then God does something extraordinary. In the midst of this bleak situation, He extends grace after grace. He begins with the woman who made the choice that changed everything. Until this point, she is nameless. She is only referred to as "the woman." God allows restoration as Adam gives her the name Eve. In the midst of her shame, the curse, and the mess, God allows her to be named, giving her an identity. Not only does Adam give her an identity, but he gives her a purpose along with her name. He names her Eve because she will be the mother of all the living (Genesis 3:20). God could have left her in her disgrace with the curse as her future, but He didn't. He continues to demonstrate deep compassion, unrelenting mercy, and unbelievable grace. He allows her to be granted a new beginning, a new life.
Then God pours grace over both Eve and Adam by making new garments for them. God grasps the ineffective nature of their fig leaf attire. He recognizes what lies ahead for them both and wearing fig leaves will not be helpful. They require more durable coverings. So the first blood sacrifice to cover sin is made. Full of grace, God fashions garments of animal skins for Adam and Eve, replacing their inadequate fig leaf costumes.
The last act of grace in the garden is surprising. God actually kicks Adam and Eve out of Eden. They are banished. After they are driven out, God places guardians around the tree of life. It seems a little harsh. Can't Adam and Eve just stay in the garden? But God knows what will happen if Adam and Eve eat from the Tree of Life now. This tree was not forbidden before they took the bite from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. They ate freely from the Tree of Life. They knew its fruit. Eating from both trees proved to be a toxic combination. Because they have experienced shame, living forever isn't a great idea. In His beautiful grace, God protects Adam and Eve from that kind of life. Even though they will now experience death, they will not suffer shame and disgrace for eternity. And God has a plan for eternity.
Shame, guilt, and humiliation didn't stay in Eden. When sin entered, it never exited, plaguing every generation since the first one Eve birthed, including yours and mine. With sin comes shame. They are inseparable. It's a cause-and-effect relationship. I sin, therefore I feel guilt and shame. It's a cycle that's all too familiar.
The motivation of characters in any story matters. Motivation colors the choices of each person in the plot. In the midst of this well-known progression of events, knowing the motivation of the characters in Eden aids our understanding of our own battle with shame. Man and woman wanted to be like God. Before it was so blatantly pointed out, they were fairly oblivious. However, once the serpent spoke it out loud, Eve just couldn't shake the thought. There was something God had that they didn't. Adam didn't speak up, either. They both took the bait because they desired the knowledge of good and evil God had. Was God withholding something good from them? They didn't want to miss what could have been theirs. Once they took the fruit, they realized being like God was impossible, and guilt and disgrace washed over them.
The serpent had one motivation. He was the opposition, the enemy. He was against the woman, against the man, against God. His primary goal was to defeat them all, even if it meant turning them against one another in the process. He was bent on destruction at any cost, relishing the outcome as it all crumbled. Pure evil.
God, on the other hand, was for man and woman. Every choice He made, every word He spoke to Adam and Eve, showed He was for them. He had their best interest in mind. He lovingly lavished grace on them, restoring them and protecting them in the process. At the same time, He declared the serpent the enemy. While cursing him, God proclaimed and prophesied the crafty creatures demise.
Our story is no different. Our motivation matches that of Adam and Eve. We choose what we want because we don't want to miss something. We sin because we want to be like God. When we fail, which is inevitable, we experience shame.
An enemy lurks for us, as well. He opposes God and seeks to destroy our lives because of it. He consistently stirs doubt and speaks deception so the cycle of shame continues.
But God is for us. He showers grace over us, relentless in His loving pursuit of us. His mercy never ceases. Even when it seems as though we are being punished, like the garden banishment, God protects. God provides coverings for our shame.
Psalm 34:5 tells us, "Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame."
Remembering God is for us is challenging when wrestling with shame. Even if you don't fully believe that God is for you yet, hang on to that truth as we continue this journey. The key is to look to Him as we go. Keep your eyes on God, and the enemy s voice will lessen and shame will lose its power.
LINGER AND LEARN
How have you hidden from God?
Take a moment to write out Isaiah 43:1. Reflect on the words and circle the ones that stand out. How do you feel knowing God has redeemed you, covering you with grace and has, like Eve, given you a new name?
WEEK 1 | DAY 1
SHAME'S THE NAME OF THE GAME
Recently, Abigail and I were shopping at Kohl's. We had a cartload of things and, well, I had consumed a great deal of water prior to shopping. Let's just say a grand emergency developed. We proceeded to the restroom. With Abigail in tow, I left the cart in the hallway, flew into the bathroom, and found a stall. Just as I sat down, I heard her little voice calmly ask, "Mommy, what are these funny things on the wall?" Then she paused and said, "Are we in the boy's bathroom?" As the words left her lips, I heard a low voice say, "Why yes, my dear, you are."
Panic flooded as I leapt to my feet and covered myself. With my face the color of tomatoes, I grabbed Abigail's hand, and we darted out the door. After our escape, Abigail firmly requested we leave immediately. "Can we just get out of here, Mommy? Like, right now?" she begged. Then she said it. Words I had never heard out of her tiny mouth: "I'm just so ashamed." Not embarrassed, but ashamed. We made a mistake and got caught. The natural response was to run and hide.
In the Introduction, we discussed Genesis 2:25 — 3:24. This passage contains the very first game of hide and seek recorded in the Bible. We discovered the man and woman felt no shame prior to this game (Genesis 2:25). There was no reason for it. There was no sin. No brokenness. Man and woman were one with God and had no reason to hide.
Then the serpent brings something new to the party. He enters the scene and begins spinning a web of deceit, and doubt begins to build in Eve's mind. She doesn't quite know what to do with it. She has no precedent for dealing with doubt. She flounders and eventually bites into the lie. She shares the lie with Adam, and together they are introduced to shame.
Shame is an interesting thing. Take a look at the dictionary.com definition of shame:
shame [sheym]: noun
1. The painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another.
2. Susceptibility to this feeling.
3. Disgrace, ignominy.
4. A fact or circumstance bringing disgrace or regret.
Yikes. Even the definition does something in your stomach. Shame likes to stay in secret places. It likes to lurk in the dark and spring up when no one else is around. It waits for well-timed attacks.
Here are some synonyms for shame:
confusion contempt guilt humiliation blot
remorse scandal stigma abashment irritation
discredit dishonor infamy reproach self-disgust
"Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging."
READ GENESIS 2:25-3:8
Something changed in Adam and Eve, and they felt shame after their mistake.
How do you feel shame? How does it usually show up? What circumstances typically surround your shame?
When Adam's and Eve's eyes were opened, their first reaction was to cover up what brought them shame. At first, they covered their nakedness. Then they heard God and they hid.
How do you hide?
From whom do you hide? From God? From others?
What circumstances cause you to hide most?
Take a look at the memory verse for this week:
Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. (Psalm 34:5)
How does this truth change the way you view shame?
Take a few moments to ask God to reveal how you have allowed shame to keep you from His best for you. Ask Him to show you how to begin walking with your eyes on Him and not on your shame.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord Jesus, You have told me I do not have to live in shame. Although it follows me around pretty much daily, You have made a way for me to cast my shame on You. You paid a great price so I could live blamelessly and walk without shame. Thank You for releasing me from that burden. Help me not to wear garments of shame any longer. I want You to clothe me with Your righteousness. Amen.
WEEK 1 | DAY 2
CLOTHES OF GRACE
Yesterday we learned about shame. We learned definitions of shame and got real about how we feel shame and hide because of it. Today we continue digging into the first game of hide and seek.
Read Genesis 3:7-10 as paraphrased in The Message:
Immediately the two of them did "see what's really going on" — saw themselves naked! They sewed fig leaves together as makeshift clothes for themselves. When they heard the sound of God strolling in the garden in the evening breeze, the Man and his Wife hid in the trees of the garden, hid from God. God called to the Man: Where are you?" He said, "I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked. And I hid."
Read the text again and highlight or circle the words that pop off the page.
What words or phrases stand out? What do they show you? Why do they stand out?
Notice Adam and Eve's reaction to hearing God: they hid. First, they tried to clothe themselves in a feeble attempt to cover their nakedness. Then when they heard God, they hid. Prior to the entrance of sin and shame, Adam and Eve welcomed God's presence in the garden. Perhaps they even delighted in it. But things are different now. Their shame induces fear and a frantic response.
Knowing God is omniscient, it's strange God would ask Adam where he was. God has infinite knowledge, so He obviously knew where Adam was hiding. But in His grace and mercy, He gave Adam a chance to come clean. God allowed Adam the opportunity to confess his shame.
God does the same with Eve. When Adam tells God of her role in the fiasco, God turns to her and asks, "What is this you have done?" Eve confesses she ate from the tree.
The next part of the text (Genesis 3:14-19) lays out a bit of their future. They will carry consequences with them as a result of their choices. All three of them: the serpent, the woman, and the man. They each had a distinct role in the event and, as a result, they have distinct consequences.
And then something interesting happens:
The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the Lord God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:21-24)
In the midst of this curse — this reminder of shame — God's great love and mercy arise. He has seen the "makeshift" fig-leaf garments Adam and Eve are sporting, and He knows they just aren't going to cut it for what's ahead.
When I've read Genesis 3:22 — 24 in the past, I thought God was punishing Adam and Eve for their wrong choices by banishing them from the garden. I think there was something more happening.
And the Lord God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." (Genesis 3:22)
God was extending breathtaking grace. Bountiful kindness. Beautiful mercy. He knew Adam and Eve were going to be living with the consequences of sin. If they were to take from the tree of life, there would be no end to their suffering. "They would not be able to withstand the shame to come.
As a result, God banned them from the garden and placed a safety net around the tree, guaranteeing they would not endure a double dose of distress. He set a new boundary to protect them. But before they were exiled — which was for their own good — He created lasting clothing for them. He helped them cover their shame. He said nothing to them about how ridiculous the fig leaf attempt really was. He simply — in one verse — made garments of skin to clothe them and rid them of their shame.
Excerpted from I Am Found by Laura Dingman. Copyright © 2016 Laura Dingman. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
To You, the One Who Longs to Be Found 8
Using This Book 11
Week 1 Fig Leaves Don't Hide Anything 13
Week 2 Know Your Enemy 43
Week 3 Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are! 77
Week 4 You Are Not Alone 113
Week 5 You Are Enough 143
Week 6 You Are Found 173
Conclusion: You Have a Story to Tell 201
A Word about Stewarding Your Story 204
"My Deepest Gratitude" 205
What People are Saying About This
I am Found is a uniquely powerful study for women of all ages who long to fully experience freedom from shame and confidence in Christ. The format includes rich references to scripture, poignant illustrations, and thought-provoking questions for personal and small group reflection. Women who fully engage in this study will have transformed thinking that results in mature Christian living. I highly recommend this resource! - Carol Kent, Speaker and Author Becoming a Woman of Influence
Whether the idea of being found fills your heart with joy or gives you a sense of dread, this book is for you. Tackling shame head on from the beginning, Laura shows you why being found is so good, especially if you hold the notion that if God really found out who you really are, He’d hightail it the other direction. Over and over again, the message that God is for you and not against you reverberates through the soul as you read, take apart, and truly digest God’s Word. This is a study that helps you silence the clamor and lies that fill your mind so that you can clearly see God’s love for you and desire to be found each and every day. - Jen Ferguson, co-author of Pure Eyes, Clean Heart: A Couple’s Journey to Freedom from Pornography
Laura Dingman has put into our hands a study that takes us on a life-transforming journey that is both biblically accurate and intensely personal. Though presented as a six-week study, I Am Found is so much more. Whether doing the study individually or in community with other Christians, I Am Found has the potential of impacting the reader’s life in ways never before experienced. Having known and worked with Laura for more than twenty years, I celebrate the day when “she was found” and began serving Jesus Christ in vocational ministry. - Gary L.Johnson, D.Min. Senior Minister; Indian Creek Christian Church, Indianapolis, IN
Ever since the days of Adam and Eve, humans have displayed a dogged propensity to hide ourselves--from God and from each other. We often do this out of a deep sense of shame that comes from below, not above. If you're tired of hiding and ready to experience a more authentic and vulnerable life, then you can't afford not to experience Laura Dingman's I Am Found. It will lovingly lead you to embrace the life God intends for you to live. Get ready to step out of the shadows! - Jonathan Merritt, author of Jesus is Better Than You Imagined; contributing writer for The Atlantic
The lies of the enemy swirl in our head. “You’ll never be enough.” “You’re not smart.” “You’re ugly.” “You’re too far gone.” In I Am Found, Laura Dingman confidently walks you through Scripture to debunk each falsehood, restoring your heart and soul to a place of rest. Perfect for your small group or women’s study, this book allows you to gather your girlfriends to dive into Truth together. You’ll discover how deeply you’re loved, leaving the lies of the past behind. What a joy to be really found by God, knowing His plans are good! - Cherie Lowe, author of Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After
In an age of selflies, personal promotion and excessive approval-seeking, it is harder than ever to ground our identity in the right place. This study offers us rich wisdom rooted in Laura's personal journey and in the words of Scripture. I deeply respect the work Laura has done, and continues to do, to honestly face her own shame and the destructive voices in her head - replacing them with the truth that she isa valuable child of God. Dig into this study with great anticipation for what God will do in your heart! - Nancy Beach, Leadership Coach & Author, Gifted to Lead and The Hour on Sunday
The passion Laura feels for women to be free and whole in Christ is infectious. God has given her a call to minister to women who have been told they are not enough, not worthy of true freedom, and too much so we must hide parts of ourselves from our Creator and others. Laura lets God use her in powerful ways to dispel those lies and introduce us to a Jesus who wants us to enjoy being truly known by Him and those around us. This Spirit-filled study and Laura's wise words will resonate with you, change you, and free you to experience life in a new, profound way. It has been a blessing to me, and I know it will be for others as well. - Mary Graham, blogger at trustychucks.com and writes for the Huffington Post
Laura Dingman’s story of being found by the God who knows, who loves and who redeems all our stories has found its way into the creation of this excellent study, I Am Found. She invited others to join her and now invites you into this process of coming out of hiding, and the journey of being found by Him The integration of God’s Word, personal practice, and community open space for transformation in Him so that you can more fully live the life God intended for you. - Sibyl Towner, Co-Author of Listen To My Life, Co-Director of The Springs Retreat Center, Oldenburg, Indiana, and Spiritual Director and teacher of Sustainable Faith School of Spiritual Direction