I sit across from a friend who knows me well. We’ve walked together for more than a decade. My eyes are tear-filled as I look at her and say, “I messed up.” I tell her of how I have failed in an area that has been an off-and-on battle in my life for years.
We all have one, don’t we? I call it our “Signature Struggle.” It’s the choice or habit or escape we go back to even though we know better. We swear we’ll never do that again—eat the whole pan of brownies or snap at the kids or drain the drink. But then we’re tired or stressed or overwhelmed and, suddenly, we do. No, sister, it isn’t just you. It’s all of us—every wandering, beating heart on this planet.
When I give in to my Signature Struggle, the critical voices in my mind are so loud: God will never use you now. You’re a hypocrite. You said you’d never do this again and now here you are. You’re a failure. You should give up.
On this morning as I sit with my friend, I think she should tell me the same. She should rebuke me and give me a Bible study to do immediately. She should issue a public announcement about my behavior so that others will be warned. Instead she comes to sit beside me. She leans in and puts both arms around my shoulders. She says, so gently, “Don’t let the shame win. Don’t give the enemy that victory.”
She knows me well. She understands that I will recover from my misstep. I will get up and try again in the area of my Signature Struggle. I will make progress and move forward. I will learn from this mistake. What she’s most concerned about, what could be like a deadly viper sinking its fangs into my ankles, is letting the shame take hold. She’s seen what happens, how I pull back and hide. How I consider myself unworthy. How I distance myself from God like Adam and Eve hiding in the Garden.
She wisely understands what the enemy is really after is not simply to make us sin — the cross has already taken care of that — it’s to make us abandon our identity. It’s to convince us we cannot be both imperfect and loved at the same time. It’s to tempt us to believe our worst moments define us.
Later that day when the shame tries to slink in again, I close my eyes and picture my friend sitting next to me. Then I imagine that it’s Jesus instead. Because isn’t that how He loves us too? “God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance” (Romans 2:4).
The enemy of our hearts would always rather have us embrace shame and guilt instead of grace. Because grace is what transforms us, what brings us out of hiding, what gives us the courage to keep trying. It is the superpower that defeats our Signature Struggle, that snaps the fangs of the serpent. As I share in You’re Loved No Matter What, “God wants to use the places where you’ve experienced the most shame to bring Him glory.”
If you, like me, have given in to a Signature Struggle recently then let me put my arms around your shoulders right now too. Let me whisper again to both of us what my friend reminded me is true: We are still loved. Who we are in Christ hasn’t changed. We will rise. We will fight again. Grace always wins in the end.Leave a Comment
Summer Rae says
Your encouraging words are timely… during this time of uncertainty with a crazy season barreling towards me I find myself drawing inward. While I am purposing and finding immense peace in reaching out to my Heavenly Father. I notice that I start to pull away from the family and friends He has blessed me with… not wanting to “burden” others and hearing their words, I am sure, out of context… in my heart I know that it is the enemy trying to shut me off from those around me… Thank you for encouraging strength and perseverance. To not give in to the signature struggle that continues to pop up. But, I stead to lean into the One Who made me enough just as I am. Exodus 14: 14. Thank you.
This side of Heaven,
Becky Keife says
Summer Rae, I love your heart, your resolve “to lean the One Who made me enough just as I am.” Yes. Praying for you today as you press in to God through this intense season you’re in–and let in the people He’s given to journey with you.
Carol Sloan says
Summer, I’ve been through that season when I let shame detach me from family and friends. I encourage you to cling to those God has put in your life for such a time as this. Allow them to love and lift you. When I finally did that, grace won. Love won. I won. The enemy lost.
Hey Holly, I just want to tell you that we all struggle with mistakes or some hang up that we are trying to overcome. If not, then maybe a thorn in the flesh. Whatever it is ,just know that Jesus loves you no matter what and that we all are still a work in progress. Please do not listen to the enemy lies about you. You are not a failure but a warrior. When get knock down, we have to get back up and shake off any shame. No condemnation in jesus and you are his. You are such an blessing and an encouragement to others. You are a breath of fresh air and a ray of sunshine. Remember that this an no shame game. Love ya. #no shame
Michele Morin says
“Don’t let the shame win.”
I’m profoundly impacted by these words, Holley. Thanks for grace and truth.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I wholeheartedly agree that we each have our “signature struggle” . The enemy knows our Achilles heel and he comes after it with a vengeance. He would like nothing better than to get us caught up in his quicksand of guilt and shame because it renders us useless to building God’s Kingdom. When the enemy comes calling with those guilty and shaming thoughts, I ask myself 3 key questions:
1. Does this though make me anxious or make me worry?
2. Does this thought make me feel condemned and hopeless?
3. Does this thought line up with what God’s truth says about me?
If my answers are “Yes”, “Yes”, and “No”, then I know the thought is from the enemy and not from God and not only do I have permission, but God calls me to kick the enemy and his shaming lies to the curb.
God’s voice is, like you say, lovingkindness. And even if we mess up, God promises that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from ALL our iniquities. Not just once…..unlimited times. Awesome post!
Love the three questions Bev, I may need to borrow those!
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
You’re welcome to keep and use them. I know they help to stop and think about what’s eating at me and if it is valid or not….most of the time….it’s not.
Have a good weekend,
Thank you for writing, Holley! <3
Thank you for this… I needed it a lot after several defeats in my “signature struggle”. Thank you for reminding me to embrace grace and not shame, and for the reminder that sin has been taken care of at the cross.
Yes. Very timely for me too. Thank you for writing this.
Heather King says
Oh I love this message and the reminder of God’s kindness. Thank you for the powerful image to “not let shame win.” Praising Him for His amazing grace that covers all.
Susan Roach says
Heather what a great last name you have KING!!! Being the daughter of THE KING ❤️
Beth Williams says
Satan is prowling around like a roaring lion. It only takes a mistake of any kind & I hear those words “dumb, stupid, not good enough-quit trying”. Like you the shame sinks in & I start to believe them. Until I realize I was created in His image & calling myself those things is akin to calling Jesus the same. This world cries out for perfection in every aspect of life. Doing & striving are their ways. God’s view turns that upside down. He wants us to be who He made us. We need to let Him mold us into the image He wants. Don;t let shame win!! Don;t give into the enemy. No matter the struggle God is there for you. I pray that everyone here will seek Jesus or friends when Satan attacks.
Susan Roach says
Wow Beth!!! Thank you so much! Thank You Lord for speaking through Beth!! What you spoke today is very powerful to me
Oh I needed this so much today Holley! I have been letting my shame over my “signature struggle” overwhelm me this week. Thank you for the reminder that who we are in Christ never changes and grace always wins in the end. What a wonderful blessing!!
Thank you so much for sharing your heart and writing this. I got entangled (AGAIN) in my signature struggle last night and the “quicksand of guilt and shame” overpowered me. These words of grace have allowed Jesus to wrap His arms around my tender heart bringing grace, restoration and strength to get up and keep fighting ! Bless you
Becky Keife says
Jacqui, I love that God brought these words to your heart at just the right time. Like Holley said, grace always wins as we turn to Him. Praying you will remain wrapped in Jesus’ arms today. So glad you’re here.
I’m glad I’m here too!
I had such a deep soul thirst yesterday morning, shame & guilt still had their claws in me. I’m just so thankful that God brought this to my inbox and led me gently to soul quenching living water xo
Kathy Cheek, Devotions from the Heart says
I think I am going to forever mess up again since I am human, but blessed with God’s divine mercy every day, and that mercy is new every day!
I wrote something kind of similar because, I messed up!
Debbie Kirk says
A much needed reminder that the enemy isn’t as concerned with our sin as he is our abandoned identity. Love it!
Linda S. says
Thank you for that reminder, Holley! 🙂
Thank you Holley. I needed to hear these words. I struggle with different things. Of not being good enough. That God wont forgive me. But I know satan is a liar. God says hell never leave or forsake me. What a wonderful promise.
Thank you so much for this! My morning started out this very way after I snapped with my words at my middle child, and after a long shame filled cry of defeat and my mind starting to go down that old path of worthlessness and depression over my Signature struggle fail only moments ago…I grabbed my phone and saw this email that grabbed my attention and my desperate heart… And your words jumped off the screen, reminding me that I’m not alone in my struggle. And then, as I read of your friend putting her arm around you, I literally felt the little arms of that same middle child come and wrap around me as I read, through tear blurred eyes these words, “Don’t let the shame win. Don’t give the enemy that victory.”
Thank you so much for your words and your vulnerability to share. Please know that this was an answer to my frustrated cries to God for answers…. To my questioning of where He is in these moments… The moments where my sin nature screams so loudly that I haven’t changed and that those grandiose moments in His Glory were for nothing… This was His answer. I’m humbled at His love and His patience. He is so faithful – especially in our weakness. Yes, you are right… “His grace always wins”.
Thank you again… Much love
Susan Roach says
Thank you Crystal very much for your vulnerability and story of what grace looks like! I really needed to read your response!
Awe thank you Susan for your reply! That encouraged my heart so much – amazing how God can take even our Signature mess-ups and use them for His Glory.
Lynn D. Morrissey says
Thank you for such wisdom, dear Holley. Normally we love to flaunt signature things–signature talents, signature styles, signature brands–but I’ve never heard it put quite the way you have–a signature struggle. There’s truth in that, because each of us wrestles with particular struggles that sometimes wrestle us to the ground. And once we are there: You’re right. Shame tends to keep us there with our faces in the dirt. But oh, bent low, in a posture of humility and need, we have but one vantage point which is the need to look up. I think of being prostrate at the foot of the Cross, knowing that looking to Jesus is my only hope. For many years, I struggled with the shame of alcoholism. I failed over and over again by not just draining the drink but draining the entire bottle! But praise Jesus! He didn’t leave me in a drunken stupor lying, face in the dirt, helpless in my shame. He gently took my hand and lifted me up. He never gave up on me until He signed over my then signature sin in blood–His blood–and His signature forgiveness blotted out my signature struggle and gave me the strength to move forward, free! It’s the Cross that sets us free from every, single signature sin. The only shame is there, on the Cross, laid on Jesus who became sin and shame for us. Oh what a Savior!!!
Carol L. Gonzalez says
Lynn, God bless you so much for being brave enough to share this. I know people who have struggled with this. One person has managed to get clean and sober while others have not been successful. I know that this disease can also cause severe physical problems so I am grateful for you that God rescued you and I believe that He will continue to take you by the hand on this journey.
Lynn D. Morrissey says
Carol, I”m so glad that I came back to read your beautiful, encouraging words. Thank you for your kind encouragement. By God’s grace alone I’ve not drunk since 15 July 1985. I’m extremely aware of the miraculousness of this, and that I can take no credit. I have lost an uncle and a cousin who succumbed to alcoholism, and a dear friend recently lost her son because of it. All these dear ones whom I mention came clean as you say, dried out, and got help. Then they came under alcohol’s grip again. This cycle would repeat itself until they died. I grieve for them, and I understand only too well alcohol’s insidious grip. Again, that I don’t drink doesn’t connote my strength, but rather Christ’s. I had to lean hard on him day by day by day, and He alone gave me the strength not to drink. It helped to stay in His Word, journal freely, and to seek the support and prayers of loving family and friends. It was nothing in me. So honestly, I’m not brave at all. I greatly empathize w/ every person who can’t seem to overcome this. My heart goes out to them. thank you so much for your kind words.
Mary Geisen says
I’m sitting here humbled that God provided words, through you, that I needed to hear. The fact that the enemy is looking to destroy our identity time and time again is where my battle lies. The days that he is winning are that days of my own significant struggle.
As I learn to surrender this year, I know God is creating a clean slate in me and it all has to do with my identity. Thank you for blessing me today.
Bless you Holley for your words. They helped me restart the healing process with my Signature Struggle. Thank you for that!
Joey Rudder says
“…what the enemy is really after is not simply to make us sin — the cross has already taken care of that — it’s to make us abandon our identity. It’s to convince us we cannot be both imperfect and loved at the same time. It’s to tempt us to believe our worst moments define us.”
I needed this today, right now. Thank you, Holley. God bless!
Grace is a beautiful word. Its so true, I get gripped by shame very easily, but it helps to remember the cross, that Jesus took my shame already. Thank you for the reminder. It is also comforting to know that most of us all have a signature struggle as you call it, and I’m not the only one 🙂
Carol L. Gonzalez says
Thank you for sharing this. My signature struggle is my personal finances. The household bills are paid by my husband, I do contribute but perhaps not as much as I could. Several years ago I did have a chance to really contribute to household needs and also bless some people in my life and I did but now I need to be really cautious again or I will get to a point where I am laying awake at night asking myself what did I do? I am at an age when I really don’t need much as it is anyhow, I have so much stuff in my house!
This is much needed in my struggles. Thanks you for these words and reminder of God’s grace. We are not alone.
Becky Keife says
Never alone. So glad you’re here, Carolee.
Rebecca Jones says
Our signature struggles shouldn’t be our signature, rather that He wrote our names in His Book of Life, and meant for us to have abundant lives, and not the noise of the accuser’s droning, none of us are as bad as he makes us feel about ourselves, probably not even when we were sinners. How do people live without Jesus?
Thanks for your word of life, real life! I needed that today.
Ada Joe says
Thanks for sharing this Holly…❤️
This couldn’t have come at a more needed time in my life. This past week Roman’s 2:4 “God’s kindness leads us to repentance,” was part of my bible study!!! This really resonated with me as I have been slowly turning to God more often this year, telling Him what’s on my heart. I love your words “signature struggle” because we all have a behaviour that we tend to place on “repeat” when the enemy is attacking us. This year has not started well for me due to some family conflict, so I have ben listening to more “lies” than usual. But, it’s truths like this through your writing, and many others’ as well, that are helping me to keep “kicking satan to the curb.” With Jesus’ help, God’s Word and the Holy Spirit working in me, I’ll be full of JOY, my word for the year.
Thanks and Blessings, Sandy
Bev Speer says
Thank you so much, I had never thought about my repeated weakness in a particular area as “Signature Struggle”, you hit the nail on the head though! I just went through my situation two weeks ago, hurt dearly, as I talked to the Lord about it, I asked “when will I ever learn?” Satan does know our weakness, he always is “very sutle” and he also works through anyone, especially one you would least expect! They already have gained your trust especially if they are “in the ministry” themselves”, Then off course Satan puts condme nation on me! I don’t have family or close friends to sit by me as you. I did at one time force 12 yrrs then one day no reason at all she left. No disagreement nothing so I am very guarded. I enjoy your posts they are always very encouraging! The Lord is working right throughout you! Blessings back to you!
Little Mary says
Wow, through your words right now and by His Holy Spirit, God just lifted me out of the hole I had sunk into. The devil had managed to subconsciously convince me once again that I was a failure and it was no use even trying to fight anymore.
I didn’t think others also had a “signature struggle”! I fail a lot in a particular area but thank the LORD “he gives more grace”!!! (James 4) Praise be to Him!!!❤❤❤
Betty Draper says
Thanks for the honest post Holly. It’s been a while since I stopped by your place. In-courage was the first place I started leaving some of writing for others to read. It helped me grow in learning how to reach others through blog world. We were living in Papua New Guinea then and the internet became available which opened a new wonderful world for me. You are still a great write, you were my favorite. Blessing.
Anne B. says
Shame & guilt-you cannot even think of sharing your “signature struggle” with someone else! How could God ever love me? I am so dirty! And this is were the enemy of my soul would that I stayed in my thinking! Alleluia, greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world! I am redeemed from the curse-I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me! Where can I go that God is not there with me? There has been a long journey of cleansing to move me to know that God loves me & that I can love myself. Just a closer walk with You, my Savior! Down at His feet is the most high place! I am learning to lean on Jesus as triggers would set me into flight. Will this battle never end-probably not. But when I am weak, He is strong-His grace is sufficient for me. I will put my hand in the hand of the Man who stills the waters & keep my eyes fixed on Him who saved me, saves me & continually is saving me! Be blessed my beautiful sisters in Christ for you are the Beloved & God loves you with an everlasting love(from before you were formed in your mother’s womb, He has know you!).
Susan Roach says
Thank you very very much Anne❤️
Little Mary says
Beautiful words I can totally relate to, Anne! Thank you!!
This post was such a refreshing blessing. I struggle with anxiety and it has felt overwhelming this week. By the end of the week I said to myself, ‘well there, you did it again. Why can’t you get over this and just be ‘normal?’’ It was so refreshing to read this and remember that God doesn’t wait until I no longer struggle to make himself available to me. He is with me in my struggle and wants me to know his grace. Thanks for this post!
Susan Roach says
Wow!!! Thank you Leah!! These are my thoughts exactly! I have anxiety too. The Lord has done many wonders this last year through all of it. Blessings to you sister❤️
Maria Bakera says
Thank you for your words of wisdom! I really needed them today.
Many of you on this board sound young……are facing the challenges of partnership/ children / career/ family. Reach for Gods grace and know that you will find it.
As someone on the other side of these challenges, I too am heartened by Holly’s words as I deal with the challenges of aging….and the losses aging brings.
Prayers and hugs to all
Beverly F says
Wow! What a powerful message! I’m so amazed how God knows what we need exactly when we need it the most! Thank you so much for this post. I needed to read this more than ever right now! God bless you!
This is amazing! I needed to hear this, because I have been struggling with my signature sin lately and haven’t been able to get rid of the guilt and shame of it. Thank you so much!
Nancy Ruegg says
Thank you for your wise and uplifting words, Holley: “Grace is what transforms us…what gives us the courage to keep trying.” Oh, yes! Praise God for his grace to forgive, to come alongside as our help and strength, to never give up on us. Last but not least we mustn’t forget: “Grace ALWAYS wins in the end.” Such good news!
Beth Williams says
Great post Holley! I agree totally!! Don’t let shame/the enemy win. Satan will tell us all kinds of lies when we mess up. He loves nothing more than to see us defeated & depressed. God wants us to come to Him & accept His free offering of grace.
C G says
Thank you Holley. Always appreciate your vulnerability with us. I too have been suffering defeat with my SS in recent times. It’s a struggle that only God and I know about.
Thank you for the reminder that that does not define me.
I’ll take that hug please
As one of my favorite women in ministry Sheila Walsh says “Guilt says I’ve done something bad. Shame says I AM something bad.”
May we all learn to defeat those lies of the enemy with the Truth of God’s Word. 🙂 On Christ the Solid Rock I stand — all other ground is sinking sand!
Thank you for reminding me that God still wants to and can and will use me in spite of my failings and shortcomings.
True victory may not come until we are Home but He can use us to encourage one another daily to stand strong in the power of His might!
Susan Roach says
WOW!!! The Lord is soooo faithful and always on time!! As I haven’t always gotten to read your posts the day I receive them, I read them the exact moment I need to. Sometimes I don’t read them on purpose now the day I receive them lol lol and still the Lord gives them to me when I need them. It’s like I go looking through my email, “where’s Holley?” Lol lol
Thank you again for your transparency and love for others Holley! It was asked of me, by someone I don’t know a few weeks ago if I am a perfectionist. “Well … uh yes I am”. The lady’s response , “That’s an idol.” Those were words that truly set me free. Then to hear you say this morning: It’s to convince us we cannot be both imperfect and loved at the same time. WOW!! I really needed that too! Thank you Holley from the bottom of my heart ♥️ and may the Lord continue to bless you and your family with abundance for all you do to help others!!
Listen to “Fear is a Liar” by Zach Williams, it’s amazing.
Treva Denas says
Oh Holley – I’ve put off reading this for a few days until I had time to focus. Wow! I also have a “signature struggle” that I’ve battled for so long and haven’t been able to get a handle on it. But grace, God’s sweet grace of forgiveness to me for screwing up again, again and again. But grace, God’s sweet grace also gives me permission to try, try and keep trying again, again and again! I’ve never looked at it that way. I know one day with God’s unending love, guidance, strength and more grace I WILL be victorious in my “signature struggle!” Thank you for sharing your story at the time I really needed it.
THANK YOU, HOLLEY, AND GOD BLESS YOU!
LOVE IN CHRIST.
Little Mary says
Love to see I’m not the only one commenting 10 days later 😉