Recently, I had a conversation with two different women concerning the topic of “shame.” One said she felt shame as she gained back the eight pounds she had recently lost. She said it was her fault and her fault alone.
The other woman, well, I can’t remember exactly what she felt ashamed over. (It’s amazing the details I can forget. I think it may be my superpower, I just haven’t figured out how it’s “super” yet.) What struck me during our conversation, though, was that she felt shame on BOTH sides of whatever “issue” it was. It was like the enemy was going to get her whether she was coming or going.
My heart went out to these women as I’m very familiar with shame. It was a companion of mine for a number of years. Shame and I’d hang out with Depression and Binging. We were all roommates. The three of them were especially tight and enjoyed each other’s company. They’d finish each other’s sentences and laugh at jokes I didn’t understand - I think I may have been the “joke” they thought was so funny. They talked incessantly at all hours of the day, trying to drown out any other voices.
Like the woman who gained back the eight pounds, my decisions were causing the consequences I was now dealing with. I was the one who made the bad decisions. I thought those mistakes and sins gave me no choice but to allow those three to take up residence. I felt I deserved to have those terrible roommates. Until…
I began truly grasping that people, ALL people, sin. We all make mistakes. Thus, our absolute need for a Savior. Jesus came and paid for every one of my mistakes. Even the ones I did on purpose and the ones I might make tomorrow. He took my sin AND shame (and yours) upon Himself, paying the price for it by dying a humiliating, degrading death on the cross - the one we deserve to die, but He did it for us.
When we place our faith in Christ and what He did on the cross for us, we’re washed clean and made new. We get to take on His righteousness. In other words, as a believer, you no longer have a right to shame. It’s been dealt with, so stop allowing it in the door.
I finally kicked out Shame and her friends. Oh, they come by every once in a while when I mess up or when I get to thinking about some of my past mistakes. They want to know if they can come in and visit and reminisce about old times. Sometimes I forget what I’ve learned, and I let them in, but their stays are getting shorter the more I learn about who I am in Christ and the authority I have in Him.
Has Shame ever talked to you? She likes to whisper “I” statements. She might say something along the lines of: “I screwed up again. I knew better, but I did it anyway. I’m a failure. I’m worthless. I can’t believe I did that. I didn’t change like I thought I did. I’m not worth loving or being respected.” Have you ever heard something similar?
If that’s not enough, Shame will go on to say that we can never be the people we want to be because of things we’ve done. Nor can we step boldly into the plans God has for us or be the light we want to as a believer because we’ve messed up too much. We can’t change, and we don’t have the right to try. We don’t deserve to receive anything good from God. Lies, lies, LIES!!!
If our righteousness and hope was based on our goodness, yes, we’d have a problem. If our access to God and His love was based on our perfection, we’d never encounter Him. But it’s not. It’s based on Jesus.
When we carry condemnation, we’re focusing on and empowering our sin more than Jesus, and discrediting the forgiveness and joy that He died to give us. We’re focused on ourselves and our imperfections. What has been your focus lately - your sin or your Savior?
When Shame confronts me now with a mess-up, this is what I try to do, though I haven’t mastered it yet: I tell her, “Yes, I did that. It was wrong. But let me tell you what Jesus has done for me and how He’s changing me to be more like Him.” When something you did bothers you, it reveals that you aren’t okay with it - it goes against who you REALLY are in Christ and who you want to be.
So when you mess up or are reminded of a past failure, whether it happened seconds ago or decades: Slam the door shut on Shame and any friends she brings with her. RUN to Jesus. Praise God that He has washed you clean and sees you as righteous. Thank the Holy Spirit for working with you and continuing to change you to be more like Jesus. Then dust yourself off and keep moving forward into who God has called you to be and the plans He has for you.
Locking the door on Shame,
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” II Corinthians 5:17, ESV.