Shame on you. If it had been spoken that bluntly in my head, I think I would’ve recognized it.
But it wasn’t. It was subtle and conspicuous, really. A series of thoughts that kept sneaking up on me, creating what can only be described as a group of dark clouds hanging over my head. They were so close to one another, one overlapping the other, that there was no room for light to break through.
And I didn’t catch it. The source, that is. I was too busy trying to get myself out of the dark and into the light in my own strength.
Like when I would take myself to the first few verses of Romans Chapter 8. Knowing full good and well that, “there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,” I would speak to my soul and charge it to remember that there is no condemnation! Then, somehow, I would always get tripped up with the next line, which would justify what I was feeling—condemnation—by telling myself that I must not be walking according to the Spirit.
The source that I was overlooking, of course, was shame. It masked itself as a voice that said things like this . . . That I wasn’t doing what I was called to do. That it was taking too long. That I wasn’t good enough. That I wasn’t like her or her or her. That I didn’t do that right. That what is happening is because of that mistake or that route that I did or didn’t take. Blah, blah, blah. It’s no wonder why I was overwhelmed with despair.
And all of it was due to shame.
Can anyone relate?
I pray that you can’t. I pray that this trap that I’ve been living in as a daughter of the King for some time now hasn’t snatched you up like it has me. But, if by chance, you have been dealing with some of these same manifestations of shame in your life, please read on. It’s time to put a stop to this, once and for all.
My once-and-for-all stop came last weekend. I was blessed with an invitation to attend an out-of-town women’s retreat at my friend’s church. And through the providential act of my living and active God, a speaker had just the right words that I needed to hear about, you guessed it—my shame. He used her words to connect the dots from the thoughts that had kept me in the dark to the true source of it all, shame. Yes, the Lord was working through her as He determined to work on me.
Here’s how it went down. Literally, like how it went down on my journal paper that evening.
Fear and shame are the most influential of all emotions. I scrambled to jot that little tidbit in my notes. Seemed like a no-brainer, but doggone it, when you struggle with those two things more often than you should, it sure did feel right to recognize the power that each of them had in my life. Verbalizing how influential fear and shame really are grabbed my attention and kept it in full until the next bullet point was given.
Sin brings shame. Always. Of course, sin is bad. I knew that. And, of course, sin brings shame. I knew that as well. But when you add the “always” as a tagline, you all of the sudden can see shame all over your life. Past sins. Shameful. Present sins. Shameful. Future sins. Shameful. Big sins. Shameful. Little sins. Shameful. In-the-middle sins. Shameful, too. As my pen wrote those words, I was immediately able to categorize the negative trains of thoughts that I had had about myself and identify them with shame. I had been feeling shame because my sin always brought it. And though I was in a right relationship with Christ over my sin—i.e. I was, am and always will be forgiven–I was succumbing to the lie that told me I still had dwell on my inadequacies. Long story short, because I am a freed from sin, I am and should be, freed from shame. Period.
Shame is the enemy of connection. I knew where the speaker was going to go on this one. Right to the garden of Eden when connection (communion) with God was broken and Adam and Eve felt naked and ashamed. (See Genesis 3: 6-10 for a brief reminder if you need one.) The classic illustration, and most detrimental act of all mankind, of how our kinfolk crossed the Creator by failing to believe what He had said (believing lies versus God’s words), was a reminder that since the fall mankind has been longing for the connection that we were created to have with the God of the Universe. It was fought for and won by our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Because of Him, I knew the connection was made for me. Shame was what was keeping me from feeling it. And to hear that the fight in my life was actually appropriately titled “shame versus connection” was just as an eye-opener to me as it was for Adam and Eve in verse 7 of the biblical encounter.
Conviction says, “You’ve done something wrong.” Shame says, “I am wrong.” OR “I am not (fill in the blank) enough.” Wow. This was the turning point in my thought processes that evening. How easily I had been confusing conviction with shame. Conviction is always a good thing. The true version of it comes straight from the Holy Spirit, whose job in part is to “convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin” (John 16: 8-9a). And conviction, if dealt with appropriately, takes me straight to the Person of Christ, with Whom I have relationship and intimacy with. Shame, however, is never a good thing. It always takes me somewhere other than the Cross, either to my self for the rescue (which never pans out) or, if it has comparison written all over it, it’ll take my thoughts to some other person to whom I’ll never measure up to. In life I will do some things wrong, but, WHO I AM is NOT wrong and I am NOT “not good” enough.
Without Jesus’ blood, people don’t know how to deal with their shame. Here my mind was brought, once again, to the precious reality that Christ’s blood covers me; covers it all. And at this note, my heart began to ache. Not for myself, but for the people in my life who do not have a single place to put their shame that ever gives them rest . . . or peace. In those raw moments as I listened to the speaker’s message, I identified with what had already been said about the power and the pain that shame brings. I identified with the fact that I used to have to deal with it all without Jesus. I praised Him that freedom was mine. And I realized how deep the hurt was and is in the lives of my unsaved loved ones. Only the power of Christ Himself can set them free, so I prayed to the God of Heaven to hear my plea and to, in His timing, set my loved ones free. And then I rehearsed the words of a familiar song in my head: Oh the blood of Jesus, washes me. Oh the blood of Jesus, shed for me. What a sacrifice, that saved my life. Yes, the blood it is my victory.
The ending of this teaching session was not the same for me as the beginning. The Light had broken through the clouds of my darkness. The Spirit had met me in that sanctuary, and accurate to Himself and faithful to His nature, He had guided me into truth and comforted me with His loving presence. He had reminded me again that as a child of His, I am one who walks in His Spirit and therefore, I am not chained to condemnation. That I am what I am by His grace alone. And that, since the very day that He saved me, I was given a new statement to repeat to myself, and He expects me to speak it and live it with power and true conviction . . . Shame is off of me.