"Shame is heavy; grace is light. Shame and grace are the two counterforces in the human spirit: shame depresses; grace lifts. Shame is like gravity, a psychic force that pulls us down. Grace is like levitation, a spiritual force that defies gravity. If our spiritual experience does not lighten our life, we are not experiencing grace. . . .

"The lightness of grace does not lift all the sandbags that drag the spirit down. It lightens life by removing one very dead weight in particular—the weight of anxiety about being an unacceptable person. It extracts the internal threat of healthy shame. It gives us courage to track down the sources of unhealthy shame, see it for the undeserved pain it is, and take steps to purge our lives of it completely. It sets loose the lightest feeling of life; being accepted; totally, unreservedly accepted. . . .

"I close with a personal statement that sums up most of what I have said about grace and the healing of shame. It is my way of staking out a claim for myself on grace. . . .

"I believe that the only self I need to measure up to is the self my Maker meant me to be.

"I believe that I am accepted by the grace of God without regard to my deserving.

"I believe that I am accepted along with my shadows and the mix of good and bad I breed in them.

"I believe that I am worthy to be accepted.

"I believe that grace has set me free to accept myself totally, and without conditions, though I do not approve of everything I accept.

"I believe that nothing I deserve to be ashamed of will ever make me unacceptable to God.

"I believe that I can forgive anyone who has ever infected me with shame I do not deserve.

"I believe that I may forgive myself for anything that I have ever done to shame myself or another person.

"I am gratefully proud of being who I am and what I shall be.

"I believe that the grace of God heals the shame I do not deserve and heals the shame I do.

"I believe that grace is the best thing in the world.”