Breaking Free from Shame, God’s Answer
Which is more painful to believe: I made a mistake, or I am a mistake. The “I am” belief will most assuredly cripple our lives and, if left unchecked, can kill. It comes from the terminal disease of shame. Shame is so deadly because it attacks the very core of our being. It is different than guilt. Guilt comes from bad choices and hurtful behaviors. Guilt focuses on what we do or don’t do. With guilt we can be motivated to improve. We can learn to make better choices. We need not be locked into repetitive patterns that defeat us and prevent us from having the life we want. The mindset with shame is entirely different. As shame defines who we are, our being, we assume, “This is who I am and that can never change.” It becomes a life sentence of despair and hopelessness. We, therefore, feel powerless and that the choices we make will make no difference in the quality of our lives. We constantly feel less than the people in our live, inadequate or unlovable.
A shame based person tends to be focused on their inadequacies and insecurities. They fail to appreciate that, to varying degrees, everyone struggles with a sense of shame. That is because we all are sinners living in a fallen world. Sin is best defined as falling short, not able to meet the standard. We all instinctively know this, and it causes us to act from those insecurities, usually in ways that do not work, do not resolve our sense of shame. These perceived failures just reinforce our feelings of inadequacy and being unlovable. This results in a world of hurting people who hurt each other.
We all need a solution beyond ourselves. That solution comes from our loving God. John 3: 16 and 17 wonderfully declare that: For God so loved the world [a world of hurting people hurting other people], that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life [share in the very life of God]. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Shame condemns. God saves us from condemnation. Shame makes it impossible for us to love ourselves. Our hearts have a hole in them that we are unable to fill. Romans 5: 5 tells us that, God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. God’s answer is to change our hearts, to fill that hole with his love.
We can no longer see ourselves as a mistake, as defective. Our God, not only created us to be exactly who we are and who he knows we can be, he sent his Son to set us free from all the painful distortions a fallen world caused us to believe about ourselves. If the all-knowing God of the universe does not condemn us, we no longer can condemn ourselves. As I like to ask: If all the seven billion people in this world say you are a jerk and God says you are not, who is right. God’s solution, therefore, is not looking to the world to treat us better, but to what he can do in our hearts.
Our ability to embrace this life changing truth grows in the garden of our lives as we seek to bring forth a bountiful harvest of good. It all begins by realizing there is a harvest we can reap. Romans 5: 1 – 5 spells this out:
Therefore, since we have been justified [made right with God] by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace [unmerited favor] in which we stand, and we hope in the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Being at peace with God inevitably leads us to be at peace with ourselves. Romans 8: 31, If God is for us, who can be against us? His view of us trumps our view distorted view of ourselves. And it is in the midst of suffering and, perhaps, feeling like failures, that we find our God even closer as he uses those tough times to shape our character to be like his. Seeing God using this to prune us to be more fruitful, always gives us hope. He never gives up on us, especially when we are tempted to give up on ourselves.
For those of us who struggle with shame, I commend to you Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3: 14 – 19:
For this reason I bow before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that being rooted and grounded in his love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
I pray this scripture every morning. I need to intentionally connect with the God who loves and gave himself for me.
What I have shared here is foundational to all the work I do as a Christian counselor. If this blog has blessed you, please like and share it. For more articles like this visit our website at: https;//bcncccounseling.com.