Shame can come in many different shapes and sizes. It can be something you are aware of. Something that feels like a giant SHAME sticker on your forehead. It can also be something you are not really aware of, because of years of bottling it up. In any case, it is common for us to succumb to shame based thinking in the midst of sin… but it can be SO incredibly detrimental to our health and overall self love.
After the recent, heartbreaking news this last week about the gymnast physician, Larry Nassar, who was found to have sexually abused over 150 girls over decades, my stomach was SICK to say the least. As my roommate read me the news report I could actually feel my insides turning, wanting to throw up from disgust… how in the WORLD was this actually possible?
But the thing is…. as sick as it is to imagine… it IS possible. There are cruel people in this world. Cruel, broken, people that think they can get away with horrendous acts because they feel invincible to the consequences of the world and are driven by selfish ambition. It broke my heart for those girls SO much so that I just knew I just couldn’t keep quiet this week.
A few months ago I got vulnerable and opened up about my own Me, Too story. The moment in time when someone asked me a question I had never been asked before, “Have you ever been raped?”. Old flashbacks started to surface at the mention of this question as bottled up emotions and memories started to unleash. I had pushed down the reality of the situation. I had avoided it for years. I had blamed myself and convinced myself that I should have been more responsible.
I was so blinded by this ruin of SHAME for so many years. The truth is, the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. He is here to steal our pride, kill our sense of love, and destroy our self worth. He wants to fill us with ugly shame.
An actual biblical example of this can be found in the story of Tamar who was raped by her brother, Amnon, who then expelled her and said he wanted nothing to do with her. She walks away mourning, as she literally felt SHAME from being abused by her brother. 2 Samuel describes it as, “And she laid her hand on her head and went away, crying aloud as she went” 2 Sam. 13:19
Shame can sometimes act like a BARRIER that tries it’s best to keep love from getting through. We can often push away God’s love SO far because we are overcome with shame. I realized how I was doing that for YEARS until this deep hurt of my past came to light.
Well then, how can we overcome shame?
BRING IT FROM THE DARKNESS TO THE LIGHT
By bringing this damaging ruin to LIGHT God was able to heal me from the SHAME I had been bottling up and carrying in my heart for YEARS. What’s so funny sometimes is that we see other people being healed by shame and past traumas and hurts constantly. When it involves comes to someone else’s situation we are excited and accepting and grateful for those people.
God has such a desire to heal us from our shame. Over and over again, we see Jesus touching those who were unclean throughout the bible. People who were shamed by their community and excluded… he healed them, and welcomed them back into their communities.
He healed lepers, a lame man, the blind… and frequently hungout with the outcasts in society. Knowing that about JESUS, how could I ever assume that He wouldn’t love me because of this situation? How could I assume that He would reject me? His character throughout the bible is the opposite, so why would I assume that it would be different for me?
BEAUTY FOUND IN PAIN
You see, something I truly learned through this was that there is BEAUTY found in pain. We should not be afraid of bringing things to the light. While it was SO painful to have this realization, it also was so beautiful because it uncovered an area that was weighing down my heart. This hurt and shame was taking up actual SPACE and room in my precious heart. By speaking it out and unbottling it, the negative thoughts were revealed thus giving Jesus the ability to do what he loves SO MUCH- BRING HEALING! Now as a result, I can move forward accepting more LOVE for myself because of the LOVE and GRACE and HEALING shown to me by my Jesus.
Oh goodness do I just love that there is such BEAUTY IN THE ASHES. Praise Jesus that the fight has already been won. Praise Him that our God loves us SO much that He actually cares to know all of the little details in our lives… the good, bad, and the ugly. Truly, there is beauty to be found in all of the pain.
I just want to remind you of one pertinent story about how Jesus does NOT condemn us in SHAME for any sin or situation.
The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”]]
BREAK EVERY CHAIN
Are you struggling with shame right now? Maybe it is from this last year, recently, or from something far in the past? Even if it has been years, there is NO shame in having carried the shame for that long. You do NOT have to bear this burden anymore. It also doesn’t have to be a shame of sexual abuse, it could be shame from a PLETHORA of other things. Maybe it is shame from a past fight. A breakup. From being rejected. From saying the wrong thing to a close friend. From doing something to get ahead. From lying. From misusing a friend. From never feeling beautiful enough.
The thing about carrying chains of shame and pain is that we feel the chains at first, but after a while they start to become a part of us. I love how Lauren Chandler in her book Steadfast Love talks about chains. She proposes that we take a diagnostic on our chains. Through this, she challenges you to answer these questions:
“Have you been hurt in a way that still affects how you live today? Are you hooked on someone or something? Does the thought of losing that person or thing give you an anxiety attack? Are you hung up on sin that you can’t shake it no matter how hard you try?”
DANG THOSE QUESTIONS ARE BRUTAL…But… They are also so necessary. And eye-opening. Lauren says that if the answer to ANY of those questions is yes, then there is a chance we might be “temporarily owned by something OTHER than God.”
Today you have the choice to NOT have your hurt and shame own you any longer. Jesus WANTS to heal you and set you FREE. Believe it. Receive it. Act on it. There is NO SHAME in your HEALING GAME! You have the choice today… I believe in you!
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36