It’s insidious. Slimy. It relentlessly seeks any cracks in our core being. Hunting for the fault lines. Nourishing the lies that we aren’t good enough. That our failures define us.
It finds those fears and erodes, pushing and wedging itself in deeper and deeper. Feeding the erroneous belief that our happiness is unequivocally linked to our successes. And we must, must hide the flaws. The lack we perceive within ourselves.
Shame has an enemy. And His name is Love.
Love is full of acceptance. Grace. Hope. Laughter.
When we know who we are—–when our identity is solidly and unshakably defined by how Jesus sees us—-we begin to see ourselves through His lens . . . and we see the good. We are good.
Because the bad is gone. Vanished into His sea of forgetfulness (Micah 7:18-20). Never to be brought up again. Except, of course by the Accuser of our souls. But that’s a post for another day. I will say that the way to confound the Accuser is to study and practice 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 and Eph. 6:10-17.
Astonishing Good News
When we believe what Jesus believes about us, the foundation about who we are becomes: WE ARE GOOD! WE ARE LOVED! WE ARE ACCEPTED! We are MORE than enough!
We know God looks at us and grins. He likes us. Immensely!
From this position, when we make a mistake we can step back and look at the choice we made, the fallout it created and figure out what needs to be done to repair the situation. All the while, our belief in ourselves, the way we define ourselves is not shaken by our sin or failure.
Shame says, “When you fail, you are bad.” Conversely, the conviction of guilt says, “When you fail, what you did is bad.”
Shame focuses on your lack of worthiness as a person, conviction focuses on the behavior.
Shame Gone Bad
I like to think I’m free from the lies of shame. But there are still a few cracks in my foundation God is gently putting his finger on.
The other day I hurt a friend’s feelings. I thought my texts to her were witty and clever. She was having a rough day and they were more like little wounds to her heart. Unbeknownst to me, she asked God to tell me that I was being too sarcastic. Later that evening it occurred to me that I’d been too sarcastic, so I texted an apology.
The next morning she shared with me how I’d hurt her and we talked through it. It was part misunderstanding through the lack of nuances in a text, and part too much sarcasm. She said we were good. I wasn’t.
Shame tormented me. I felt so bad. And the badness was about who I was. When shame hits, I want to withdraw from people. It’s safer that way. You don’t fail and you can’t get hurt. The risk is eliminated.
So I went to Holy Spirit (okay, I’m training myself away from “the Holy Spirit” because it’s not a name. It makes Him an entity rather than a Person when addressed that way. I’m not “the Sherri.” Sheesh.)
So I went to Him and shared how I felt. The torment over a bad choice.
He said, “Take it to the cross.” So I did.
Then He said, “Let the exchange take place.”
So I waited. I saw Jesus bloodied on the cross and recognized that He is there in my place. He is the great Exchanger.
Peace and joy began to saturate my soul. He gets the yuck and we get washed in His goodness by the power of His blood.
What He did for me, He wants to do for you. Will you let Him?
More Good Stuff
Brene Brown was featured on TED Talk and gives a phenomenal eighteen minute presentation on vulnerability and the effect shame has on us. It’s amazing and funny (though I did cry)! Click on the link to watch The Power of Vulnerability.
Tell Me How You Feel
What does shame steal from you?