4 Steps to Freedom from Shame
A young minister once visited a counselor because he was having problems communicating with others, especially his wife. The session revealed the minister was consistently criticizing his spouse. He was sarcastic, demanding, and even withdrew from her intimate advances, rejecting her love and affection. He was also alienating members of his congregation with sermons that were harsh and judgmental.
Further counseling, said David Seamands in his book “Healing for Damaged Emotions,” exposed the root of his problem. While he was in the U.S. military in Korea, the minister spent two weeks of R&R in Japan. Tired, afraid and terribly lonely, he fell into temptation and went to a prostitute several times. He sought God’s forgiveness and with his mind believed he received it, but shame plagued him. He hated himself. Every time he looked in the mirror, he couldn’t stand what he saw.
“When he returned home to marry his fiancée who had faithfully waited for him all those years,” Seamonds wrote, “his emotional conflicts increased… because he couldn’t forgive himself for what he had done to himself and to her; so he couldn’t accept her freely offered affection and love. He felt he had no right to be happy.”
As A.W. Tozer once put it, the young minister was living in the perpetual penance of regret. Using the King James Version of the Bible, the terms “shame” or “ashamed” occur far more often (224 times) than “guilt” or “guilty” (23 times). Shame is a significant issue for people—and it’s often exacerbated by the real consequences that come from stupid decisions.
God does not want you to dwell in your shame. Follow these four steps to embrace freedom:
- Dare to draw near to God. (Hebrews 10:22)
- Know that your past sin is gone for good (Micah 7:19) and that there is no condemnation for you as a child of God. (Romans 8:1)
- Through good counsel from friends and loved ones, intentionally disassociate yourself from your past. (2 Corinthians 5:17; Philippians 3:13)
- Worship God regularly to clean your conscience. (Hebrews 10:2)
Send away your shame. Actively trust in God for your healing and permanent deliverance from the past.