The Power of Shame

My past, my shame, my guilt, my pain: that all too familiar voice in my head.

Shame consumed me for the first half of my life. It felt, at times, like I was in a dark hole, bound in chains, unable to find my way out. That is the power of Shame.

We all have a past—the history of our lives. Some of us have fond memories or things we can look back on and maybe even reminisce about the “good ole days.”

Some of us, though, have terrible, painful past memories. Dare I say, even shameful memories?

Guilt and Shame. There is a difference.
Guilt says, “What I did was bad.”
Shame says, “ I AM bad.”
God says, “I will take the bad and use it for good.”

Thank you, Jesus! That is exactly what He has done in my own life. I don’t know how He will use your shame for good, but I know He will if you let Him.

Beware though: when God starts to use our past shame to heal us and to help others, the enemy steps in. I have seen it over and over in my own life. He will do anything to bring old wounds to mind and give them life. Remember: the enemy’s job is to steal, kill, and destroy, and he is very good at his job.

I recently shared just a snippet of my shame story at our women’s conference in front of about 900 women, most of which did not know my shame, even after knowing me for many years. Was that hard? Yes! Was it necessary? No. Was it helpful to some? I hope so. God no longer wants me to hide in shame. He has called me to share the freedom and redemption only He can give to other women.

“God no longer wants me to hide in shame. He has called me to share the freedom and redemption only He can give to other women.”

Philo, a historian in the New Testament times, wrote that your conscience is like a “little judge” in your soul. It will chime in even before we do something that is wrong. Our conscience was designed by God, given to believers and nonbelievers alike.

King David himself shook free of a guilty conscience after he confessed and was forgiven by God (Psalm 32-34).

Many times I hear the question from hurting women, “Why can’t I forgive myself?”

Instead of asking why you can’t forgive yourself, ask a different question: “Jesus, will you forgive me?” Ask Jesus to cleanse you and your conscience. If it were possible to truly forgive ourselves, we would not need Him.

Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to us as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.” (Hebrews 9:14)

I have a few friends who can take an ugly, old, worn out, used up piece of furniture and make it brand new. Underneath all the paint and beauty, the scars are still there. The “before” picture is not good. But, the “after,” oh, the after picture is amazing. You would never recognize the old piece once it is made new. That is exactly what Jesus does with us. He strips away the old creation and makes a brand new one.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The most vivid picture of shame from The Bible that comes to my mind is in the garden with Adam and Eve after they sinned (Genesis 3). Imagine the shame they felt when God found out what they had done. But then there is the prodigal son, who was welcomed back into his father’s arms as soon as he repented (Luke 15:11-32).

Jesus wants that for all of us. He isn’t asking for penance. He made the sacrifice at the cross.

The thing about our shame is that we can hide all we want but Jesus is right there, where He always was, arms open wide, waiting for us to rest in Him.

One day there will be no more tears or sorrow and we will remember no more. That is a promise we can cling to if we belong to Him.

“Jesus is right there, where He always was, arms open wide, waiting for us to rest in Him.”

For now, while we are here on earth, and God is still writing our stories, we press on toward the goal to win the prize, just as Philippians 3:14 tells us.

Maybe our new question should be, “Jesus, can you please use me and my story and my past shame to help someone else?”

“Can you bring someone into my life that needs to hear my redemption story, so that they, too, can know the freedom it brings?”

May we give Him all the Glory and Honor and Praise for the outcome.

Patti Massullo

Patti is a self proclaimed organizational junkie and lover of all kinds of office supplies. Among her favorite things, along with her family, are Jesus, Zumba, books, and a great cup of coffee. Patti attends the Pelham campus.