Shame is more than feeling bad about what we have done. It is feeling bad about ourselves and feeling defined by what has happened. It speaks to our perceived self-worth and binds us to the past. Shame is the antithesis of God’s intention for us. We are designed to be free and unashamed.
I spent too many years accompanied by shame. It wore me down, held me back and robbed me and my relationships of the joy and freedom that God intends. Thankfully, I have been set free in Christ and no longer walk in condemnation. As the Lord has led me to reflect on the impacts of shame, I’ve come to a few conclusions.
You can’t outrun shame. For a while, I walked around hopeful that if I got enough years between my past and my current self, then the shame that I carried would shrink or become a distant memory. Yet, we can’t run from it. The only solution is to tackle it head on, put it at the foot of the cross and allow yourself to be transformed by God’s mercy, forgiveness and love.
Shame takes your eyes off of Jesus. Shame tells us lies about who we are, who we were made to be and what God has prepared for us. The truth is that the core of our existence is being immeasurably loved by God. Shame forces our gaze inward, blinds us to our true identity and calls us by a different name. When we believe that we are anything less than God’s beloved, then our self-perception remains in bondage and our eyes are not on Jesus.
Shame prevents us from being known. Carrying around shame is emotionally taxing because it is usually coupled with feeling compelled to hide something out of a fear of judgement. This prevents us from being fully known in relationships. We can’t be transparent because the enemy’s lie that “they wouldn’t love you if they knew” is repeated in our minds until it sounds like a certainty. Then we hide whatever it is that we feel shameful about even more. However, God desires us to unclench our fists and surrender every inch of ourselves to Him, so that we are fully known and complete. Then we can display His power through our transformation.
God desires us to have freedom from shame. It’s the very reason His Son died for us. If we haven’t set our shame at the foot of the cross, then we can be assured that we are hauling it into our marriage bed and not experiencing all that God desires for us. Whether the shame has arisen from our own sin or sin committed against us, we must seek God’s healing and restoration. God may heal you in an instant or over time, but His healing is assured. Believe who He says you are – His beloved son or daughter. He desires your freedom.
It is important to intentionally replace the joy-stealing lies of the enemy with His Truth that brings freedom and abandoned pleasure. In my own experience, it was critical to move God’s forgiveness from my mind where I first accepted it as truth, to my heart where I next internalized its impact on my identity and then to my actions where I finally lived out of the wholeness and freedom that He designed me to enjoy. Though I never doubted God’s forgiveness, it took me a long time to let go of the past, and to realize that I wasn’t a second class Christian. God wasn’t just tolerating me, but was delighting in me. My Heavenly Father is head over heels in love with me and He is head over heels in love with you too!
Casting aside shame and running into my Father’s arms was a critical step in my own sexual awakening. Even more, it lead to much deeper and more vibrant relationships with God and my husband. Free to be completely known, and safe in my Father’s love, I can now share all of who I am, and my husband and I can cleave more deeply.
I encourage you to seek the Lord and ask Him to turn your shame into praise.
Zephaniah 3:19 – “I will turn their shame into praise”