We’ve all been there.
We sit with heavy hearts as we ponder on things we said which probably shouldn’t have been said, things we did which shouldn’t have been done.
And like all other examples of human behavior, there are often accompanying emotions tied to the things we’ve done or the lives we’ve lived in the past.
In this particular instance, I want to talk about shame. Shame is deep.
Dictionary.com defines shame as:
“The painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous etc., done by oneself or another”.
Shame goes beyond guilt because the painful feeling is attached to how we view ourselves and how others view us (Psychology Today). So, for this reason, when we carry shame, we walk around with a very poor and negative view of ourselves.
Shame is not just about what you have done, but in many ways it has the power to define who you are.
This is the toxic thing about shame- we see ourselves as shameful beings.
Shame like an enemy, robs us of an abundant life. Why do I say this?
When we carry shame, we are not fully engaged in the beauties of living in the present moment. Shame dulls the blessings of God so that we are never grateful. We live constantly feeling as though life is unfair to us and that we can never overcome our burdens and obstacles.
When shame is properly dealt with, we can live fully present to the goodness of God in our lives
The devil uses this as blackmail over our conscience. We feel unworthy to rise above what we esteem ourselves to be and what others see in us. Sadly, we lose our identity and ultimately, we suffer the loss of living a fulfilling life.
Adam and Eve are the infamous pair who got themselves into a regrettable situation in the garden of Eden which has left them judged and condemned by many societies for many centuries to come. Their act of disobedience to God took place many years ago. God also forgave and loosed them from the condemnation of the act, however it is the perceptions of others which linger on and perpetuate the shame attached to them even now.
The Bible tells us in Genesis 3: 7-11 that after their act of disobedience their eyes were opened to their nakedness and they hid their shame from God in the garden.
When we open up to God and our trusted friends about the things that make us feel ashamed, shame loses its power over us.
Their example illustrates to us the shocking effects of shame in our lives. Our self-esteem and self-worth is deteriorated. We experience extreme feelings of anxiety, as Adam and Eve did. We are separated from God in a way and this leads us to be lonely.
When placed in this kind of condition, our natural inclination is to hide ourselves from God. Our garden of solace can be anything: drugs, alcohol, materialism, toxic relationships, pornography, masturbation, avoiding healthy social interaction and avoiding spirituality. The list goes on.
Anything which consumes our minds and our time will do if God is not an option to cure us of this predicament.
These effects negatively affect us psychologically, spiritually and physically. Shame is more toxic than we actually know.
The good news my friend is that you can overcome shame. If you understand how to, you can reclaim your life.
When shame is properly dealt with, we can live fully present to the goodness of God in our lives. Outside of shame we can finally conceive the magnitude of grace in our lives. We can finally, like Adam and Eve face God and allow Him to save us from the pits we’ve fallen into.
When we open up to God and our trusted friends about the things that make us feel ashamed, shame loses its power over us. It can no longer control us and we are gifted with the perspective of God to see the reality of our situations, not as hopeless messes and at the end of our lives, but people full of hope, gratitude and purpose (2 Timothy 1:7).
God uses our shame to illustrate practically how big and faithful He is. He then restores our being. He gives us worth when we feel worthless, He gives us hope in our fears, He draws nearer to us so we are never alone and He dwells in us so we may experience fullness.
This my friend, is when we can live abundantly. We are unashamed, nothing can hinder us because there is no condemnation in Christ (Romans 8:1). We live in the full knowledge that we are free.
A life of abundance means we can be faithful servants in the gospel work. We operate to serve others and help them towards Christ’s ideal plan for their lives because we are free from our hinderances (John 10:10).
Here are some helpful tips to begin the journey of overcoming shame in your own life and stepping out of those miserable feelings:
1. Answer the call of God to save you
Realize the place you’re at as God asks you where you are. Understand that God has already taken the first step, He has already created a way out of your shame and the only way to make the first practical step out of your situation is to accept that salvation is already yours to receive. (Genesis 3:9).
2. Confess your sins to God
Adam and Eve had to fess up before God could implement His plan of grace in their situation (1 John 9:1).
3. Believe that you are forgiven
Hold on to the truth that you are forgiven and set free and start to practice gratitude, living in the moment and not in the past, and allowing God to bless others through you (Psalm 103:12).
4. Be kind to yourself
God is patient with you and has loved you with and everlasting love (Jeremiah 31: 3).
I hope the little I could share was of some help to you. In whatever it is you’re going through, keep your head high and rise above it. You are who you are today and not who you were yesterday. New day, brand new kind of you.