What Is Shame?

For whatever reasons, I grew up with a sense of shame about myself and my circumstance. As I’ve mentioned previously, I often felt inadequate during my childhood. I had the impression that I just didn’t measure up. Others might not have thought I felt this way, but my sense of inadequacy was often intense.

“I wonder if one of the greatest truths that I and people like me might hear is that God is with me in my darkness. That God is with me in my shame. And that He’s with me in my addiction, in my pain, in my unsettledness, in my woundedness that I don’t want anybody else to see.”

Many of my past memories are still painful for me, and I imagine they always will be. But through Christ, my present attitude about myself is continually changing. Knowing that I have no reason to feel ashamed has motivated me to pursue a number of challenges that I wouldn’t have even considered pursuing a number of years ago. In the process, I have experienced failure and success but God has used each instance to teach me that despite my circumstances, my worth is secure in Him.

We need to be honest about the pain, the anger, the disappointment, and the loneliness of our past. We need to put ourselves in relationships that will encourage us to feel what we may have suppressed for many years. This will enable us to begin (or continue) to experience hope and, eventually, healing. Change is possible, but it is a process. To overcome shame, you must accept how completely God desires to make changes in your life that will free you from your past.

“This is the Christian life. God’s intention is that we grow up into mature men and women transformed by the indwelling presence of Christ. We honor our parents, culture, and histories but obey God. Every disciple, then, has to look at the brokenness and sin of his or her family and culture. The problem is that few of us have reflected honestly on the impact of our family of origin and other major “earthquake” events in our histories. Philosopher George Santanya said it well: “Those who cannot learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.” For example, perhaps your family defined success by profession or education or money. Maybe there were underlying messages that in order to be loved, cared for, or accepted you needed to do certain behaviors. This impacted your view of yourself (i.e., your self-esteem). In God’s family, success is defined as being faithful to God’s purpose and plan for your life. We are called to seek first his kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6: 33). Everything else, he promises, will be added to us. Moreover, God declares we are lovable. We are good enough in Christ (Luke 15: 21–24)” – The goal is to grow in your experience of Jesus, not merely add to your head knowledge about him – “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality”, Peter Scazzero

Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.” Isaiah 54:4 (NIV)

Shame is the fear of being unworthy, and it adversely affects our relationship with God, ourselves and others. It greatly hinders our ability to receive God’s unconditional love and share it with others.

I wish I could say that as soon as I decided to follow God and dedicate my life to serving Him through helping others, the shame in my life disappeared. But unfortunately, that’s not how shame works.

I expected that once I’d left my old life and joined God’s team, I would feel free and could simply forget the past and move on. But I didn’t.

I was forgiven and had access to all of the promises of God in Christ Jesus, but I still carried a broken heart, a wounded soul and a tormented mind because shame destroys our internal settings.

Walking with God to work through and fight against the shame in my life has been my single most difficult journey. But doing the hard work of healing is the only way we can get to the other side — the freedom to fulfill our destiny.

Because of God’s great love, I began to discover the power of God’s Word to break through the lies I had believed — and to reveal the truth of who I am and why I was created. Notice the key word in that sentence is began.

Breaking free from the shackles of shame is not an overnight experience or a quick-fix, 10-step process. It is, however, a grand, ongoing adventure of discovering the depths of God’s love and the huge scope of God’s power to transform us, re-create us and continually renew us.

I wish I could say that as soon as I decided to follow God and dedicate my life to serving Him through helping others, the shame in my life disappeared. But unfortunately, that’s not how shame works.

I expected that once I’d left my old life and joined God’s team, I would feel free and could simply forget the past and move on. But I didn’t.

I was forgiven and had access to all of the promises of God in Christ Jesus, but I still carried a broken heart, a wounded soul and a tormented mind because shame destroys our internal settings.

Walking with God to work through and fight against the shame in my life has been my single most difficult journey. But doing the hard work of healing is the only way we can get to the other side — the freedom to fulfill our destiny.

Because of God’s great love, I began to discover the power of God’s Word to break through the lies I had believed — and to reveal the truth of who I am and why I was created. Notice the key word in that sentence is began.

Breaking free from the shackles of shame is not an overnight experience or a quick-fix, 10-step process. It is, however, a grand, ongoing adventure of discovering the depths of God’s love and the huge scope of God’s power to transform us, re-create us and continually renew us.

In your quiet time:

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