Shame No Longer Has Me
"Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame." Psalm 34:5 (NIV)
You know that phenomenon when you learn about a new car for the first time, and then begin to see it everywhere? Shame is a lot like that. Once we begin to recognize its presence in our lives, we start to see how much emotional space it takes up.
The difficulty with shame, however, is that it encompasses such a wide range of emotions it can be difficult to define. Perhaps the simplest way to understand shame is to think back to a moment when you experienced it.
You may have felt embarrassment, discomfort or self-consciousness. (I was in middle school when it was cool to have pink and purple braces and bangs up to the clouds, so I definitely know self-consciousness!)
Shame can also express itself in much weightier emotions, like when we feel humiliated, inadequate, injured or abused.
So many women live under the weight of shame without realizing it because we’ve been conditioned by culture and life experience to accept that feeling as normal. Shame is simply always there; it’s that familiar yet profound feeling that we don’t measure up.
Add to all of this the pressure we often feel as women to be successful, sophisticated and in great shape, we can feel ashamed when we make even the tiniest of mistakes. At its core, an identity of shame is the belief that, in whole or in part, I am not enough. That "not-enoughness" is what drives our shame.
Think about it.
Maybe you regularly view life through the lens of other people’s expectations (real or imagined), and you’re beginning to buckle under the pressure. Perhaps you feel self-conscious about not having a boyfriend or a happy marriage when all of your friends seem content in their relationships.
Perhaps a friend betrayed you, one of your parents was emotionally or physically absent, or your loved one has a secret addiction, and you think it’s all somehow your fault. Maybe you’re stressed about your children and how you handle things at home.
The voice in your head says, I’m not a very good mother. Maybe you feel like a failure because life got hard, and now your dreams seem out of reach, or you just don’t know who you are anymore. Maybe you go through life with ever-present feelings of inadequacy; you worry what other people would think if they knew the real you. Shame lurks in all of these things. (I could go on, but at the risk of depressing us all, I’ll stop there.)
In spite of the overwhelming nature of shame, there is good news. The promise of Scripture is that when we look to God, He transforms our shame into something beautiful — a sparkling, splendorous joy.
It may take time, and there may always be moments in life when we experience shame, but when our identity is centered in Christ — not only knowing who we are in Christ, but knowing who He is in us — we can discard the dark covering of shame and rise in radiance. In other words, we may have shame, but in Jesus, shame no longer has us.
Whether you’re simply having a "not enough" moment, or you’ve been hiding in shame for years, have hope. You can overcome shame, because your Overcomer already has.
Dear heavenly Father, I praise You because You not only remove my shame, You faithfully transform it into something beautiful and new. And while I don’t fully understand it, I know You have the power to help me overcome shame because You’ve already done so on the cross. Open my heart to experience Your love and mercy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Peter 2:6, "For in Scripture it says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’" (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Think back over the last few days. What kinds of things — small or large — have triggered shame in you?
In what ways might your life be different if you could be free of shame? For example, consider the impact on your relationships, aspirations, confidence and faith.
When you face shame, what’s one thing you can do to reassure yourself of God’s love?