WE GO WAY BACK
Shame can speak with confidence yet lie. –Ed Welch, Shame Interrupted
Shame has long been in my life. My perceived (and deceived) need for this companion in my emotional and spiritual survival has existed since I was a young girl. But it has been a cruel friend. It desires to possess the heart, claim ownership of the body, and veil the mind. Masquerading in a cloak of comfort, my hurting heart bought into its lies.
Oh, what a slow, painful, drawn-out process this has been. While I believe deeply that it is truly dead, I have no doubt that it will attempt resurrection. But I am different. My heart and mind are free to say, “I choose Jesus over shame.” Every time.
SHAME OVERINFLATES ITSELF
I could go on for pages describing my intimacy with shame, but I won’t. I will not give it that much glory. Too many years have been lost doing so. But I will share with you four realities God has illuminated for me. I hope that they might be able to help you conquer shame in your life.
1. Shame over-owns sin. We all have sin that once separated us from God. Shame clings to both our sin and the sin of others in a way it has no business doing. It demands the rights to us. But Christ paid the price for us.
2. Shame overstates suffering. Pain is very real. The one who struggles with shame has experienced mountains of suffering, but shame so exaggerates the mountain’s size that it blocks our view of the cross. It forces focus onto self and off our Savior.
3. Shame over-feels emotion. In so doing, it creates chaos. I know how devastated and debilitated you feel about your deepest wound. But we have a God who promises peace in the midst of pain, a quiet yet confident heart in the face of fiery trials. God is steadfast despite our emotions.
4. Shame overemphasizes failure. It gathers evidence to prove our inadequacy, worthlessness, and alienation. It works hard to convince us that what Jesus says is untrue because we do not deserve it.
We don’t. But Jesus says, “Look not at what you’ve done but at what I’ve done.”
JESUS OVER SHAME
If shame still had its chokehold on me, I would still be hiding. Instead, even as a so-called “mature” Christian, pastor’s wife, writer, and teacher, admitting to a struggle with shame does not make me more ashamed but more free. God has worked in and through me in spite of me and my shame.
Because he loves us dearly, he wants more for us. His promise to us is that he will complete his redeeming work in us (Phil. 1:6; Pss. 34:22; 77:12–14). And for some of us, part of that work is eradicating shame.
Jesus shows us compassion in at least four ways:
1. Jesus speaks truth over our shame.
You were naked, but I have clothed you with royal garments.
You were far off, but I have brought you near.
You were unclean, but I have cleansed you.
2. Jesus lavishes love in our shame.
You are welcomed into my family, child.
You are my honored guest.
You are loved and lovely.
3. Jesus offers healing from our shame.
By my wounds, you are healed.
Bring me your pain, and I will comfort you.
My touch is pure, holy, and safe.
4. Jesus gives grace to us as we struggle with shame.
Come to me always. I will never reject you.
Battle your unbelief. I tell you the truth.
I freely give you grace upon grace.
If you are carrying the weight of shame, Jesus is calling you to give that burden to him and rest in the new identity he has given you. Because of shame, you may feel unqualified to speak truth into areas where you have influence. Whether you’re a Bible teacher, a neighbor, an employee, or a stay-at-home mom, you lead others. Don’t allow shame to silence you, but instead live in the freedom of Jesus’ grace, which eradicates shame. Don’t use shame to motivate yourself or those you lead. Point people to Jesus, who conquered shame.
Christian, from this day forward, choose Jesus over shame, every time.
Special thanks to Ed Welch for his words of truth and comfort in Shame Interrupted. He helped me to come out from under shame. I am eternally grateful.
Jen Smidt lives In Seattle, WA with her husband and 3 teen children. She enjoyed serving women for almost 20 years at a large church and now works full-time in the world of Digital Analytics. Her passion is articulating the range and depth of emotion that life brings while in the middle of it all-neat, tidy packages aren't her thing.