22 Nov When Shame Steals Our Joy
Shame creeps in like a thief in the night when we least expect it, doing only what shame can do: steal our joy, make us feel unworthy, unloved, not enough, dirty, and the list goes on. It can even paralyze us if we allow it to.
How do we get to a place of shame? It can be brought on us, or we can bring it on ourselves through our own actions. It doesn’t start with the sin itself. It can start with a thought, a memory, or a glimpse of an image. When our story begins to replay in our mind, the shame starts to brew, and the lies predict the outcome.
I speak from the voice of experience. Shame was a huge part of my life for many, many years, and at times it crippled me. My shame started as a child when I was violated by a family member. It took residence in my heart and continued to play a big role in my life as I got older and I validated that shame with my very own sin.
“When our story begins to replay in our mind, the shame starts to brew, and the lies predict the outcome.”
Shame is defined by Webster as “a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety. The belief that one is or perceived by others to be inferior or unworthy of affection or respect.”
Guilt, which is commonly mistaken for shame, is defined as “a feeling of having done wrong or failed in an obligation.” The difference between the two is that one is tied to our actions and one is tied to us as a person.
Guilt says what we have done is wrong—shame says we are flawed.
My shame looked like a deep, dark black, ugly, dirty hole that I could not climb out of, no matter how hard I tried. I felt like I belonged in that hole.
I could not get a lifeline.
I could not get the dirt off.
I could not see the light—until I met Jesus.
Even after that, I spent years trying to be a “good” person. Trying to fix my life became a way of life. Only He could fix my life, and until I actually believed that, I was still lost in that dark hole, weary from trying to crawl to the top. That played out in many different ways.
Meaningful change has to take place for us to grasp the fact that we cannot work our way out of shame. Once we submit our lives to God we can experience meaningful change. If repentance is not part of that process, guilt can turn into shame over time.
“Only He could fix my life, and until I actually believed that, I was still lost in that dark hole, weary from trying to crawl to the top.”
The Bible shows us many pictures of shame. Peter lived in shame and regret over his public denial of Christ. Judas’ shame led him to take his own life. And let’s not forget about Genesis 3:10 when Adam tells the Lord “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked”; ashamed because he ate from the tree he was told not to.
God is our Father when we feel like it is true and even when we don’t. We are His sons and daughters when we run and hide and when we stay and sit in His presence. Sitting in His presence and believing His truth requires repentance, a turning away from the old and embracing the new.
Repentance isn’t just doing something about our sin. Repentance is admitting that we can’t do anything about our sin. Only God can erase our shame and self loathing. Only He can lift us from the dark and dirty hole of despair.
“God is our Father when we feel like it is true and even when we don’t.”
When shame replaces joy, the enemy gets the foothold he is waiting for, and if he can convince us that we are not worthy to be loved, he wins!
“Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen and you will find life.” – Isaiah 55:3
Today, when I feel that voice of shame start to rear it’s ugly head, I remember the verse that has most impacted my life: Romans 8:1 says, “So now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
What is the shame that entangles you? Run into the arms of Jesus and let Him give you rest today.
“Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest” – Matthew 11:28