We all have a little shame buried someplace in our life. Shame and guilt often go together but we need to split them apart here. Guilt is feeling bad for something you screwed up. We feel guilty when we lose our temper or spend too much money. Shame is thinking YOU are bad. Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging. We all experience shame on some level.
Shame is so corrosive because it has the power to convince us that that little voice in our head is right after all. The one that says “I knew you’d fail,” “You’ll never really belong,” and “Who would love you?” We cover our shame with masks, relationships, lies, self-harm, and with whatever else works at the time. Shame has been linked to addiction, violence, aggression, depression, eating disorders and bullying, so it’s crucial that we learn ways to deal with it and to build healthy barriers against it. Shame wounds us over and over and over unless we have the courage to see it for what it is, hand it over to God, and let the love of Christ heal it.
There are three strategies that will help you step away from shame and move a little closer to wonderful. First, cry out to God from a place of brokenness. What we need to do is humble ourselves before God so that he can heal our shame and restore our lives. The Scriptures are full of stories of people who blew it and then cried out to God from a place of brokenness.
Psalms 34:18 says “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Let’s admit that we feel ashamed of some of the things we have done and said. Let’s get real, with ourselves and with our friends, and admit that we have a past that is full of hurt. The ground is level at the foot of the cross and Jesus exalts those who humble themselves before God so healing from shame starts with humility.
Second, bring shame into the light. Often, the last thing we want to do is talk about why we feel shame. We worry that if someone finds out how horrible we are they will run from us. But when we cover it, we don’t actually deal with it and it clings to us and we always know it’s there. The truth is the more we talk about what shames us the less power it has over our lives.
Once we bring the shame into the light the healing can begin. Where do you feel shame in your body? Do you walk as if you are defeated? Do you feel it in your gut? Your head? Your hands? Where do you carry your shame? Share your shame with God. He knows about it anyway. Bringing shame out of the dark diffuses it with the love of Christ. Let the light of Christ begin to soak into the shadows of your life and bring healing.
Third, at some point we have to stop shaming ourselves and start embracing God’s truth. Paul tells us what happens when we give our lives to Jesus, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
Feeling shameful keeps us from confidently approaching God’s throne and having a close personal relationship with Him. The Bible tells us that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, all of them. He loves you and wants to walk with you right now. He wants you to find hope, healing, and your future in His will.
The author of Hebrews 10:22 writes: “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:22
In conclusion, your past doesn’t determine your future. You are not who you were. Shame ties you to an event that you desperately want to cover, but the reality is the more you cover it, the less you will heal. Leave your shame at the cross and receive the freedom Jesus has for you so that you can move from wounded to wonderful.