This past Saturday I had the opportunity to share my story at a Womens’ Event at my church. My talking theme was Shame. In true blogger fashion, I wrote out my whole talk. I thought I’d share it with you on here.
This is my official follow up to a post I wrote a few months ago. The post I’m referencing is something I wrote and I titled Shame is Not Motivation. In this post I shared a story that brought on years of shame and how God has redeemed a particular story.
After I published that post something happened.
Now, I’m not bragging on my blog or my writing by any means, I’m bragging on God and how he can redeem anything.
That blog post, one I didn’t want to write, was read 10 times more than any other post I’ve written. After I shared that story, I received comments in person, online, and in private messages from people who were deeply affected by that story and sharing with me their own stories of shame.
I hit a nerve when I openly shared my shame story. I pressed my finger on an issue that was affecting people from every walk of life. That response told me something about people.
Shame is a huge subject and people are having a hard time letting go of shame and letting God redeem it. I am fully confident, I’m living proof, that God can take our stories of shame and redeem them to something beautiful.
Maybe you’re replaying your shame moment or moments right now? It might look nothing like my story. We’re all different and struggle with different sins.
Maybe your shame story is a secret buried so deep down that you would never dream about sharing it with anyone?
Maybe you don’t’ even talk to God about your shame because that means you have to dwell on it and deal with it?
What do we know about shame from the Bible? My mind immediately goes to the fruit of the spirit. Galatians 5:22 tell us that, “the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.”
Thing thing I most love when thinking about the Fruit of the Spirit is pointing out that the fruits are not individual. We don’t get to pick and choose which fruits we want like in the grocery store.
They come in a bundle. They come as 1. It’s Fruit singular. Not Fruits plural. We have them all. Once we accept Jesus’ gift of salvation, we receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our Helper. They were not originally there within us. This isn’t like the toy that comes with the batteries already included.
Do you recognize what isn’t there on that list? In the fruit bundle? Shame.
Shame is not on that list. Shame comes from our flesh. Our flesh is who we were before Christ, before we become believers. Our shame can be redeemed. God is in the redeeming business.
He makes old into new. He makes sin into grace.
One of my favorite truths to cling to when shame starts to rise up in me is in 1 John 1:9. “When we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Another favorite truth that I find myself repeating over and over over in times of distress is from Romans 8:38-39 “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
You know what else can’t separate us from God’s love? Our feelings. Or the way we look. Or the things we’ve done.
These scripture verses all together: the fruit of the spirit, how he is faithful to forgive, and knowing that nothing can separate us from God’s love, should move us to stamp out the shame in our lives.
I’ve got some ideas on how we can prune out the shame that keeps us from being the confident women of Christ that we are called to be.
Our confidence doesn’t come from us, it stems from Christ within us. Shame hinders our confidence. Shame snuffs out truth. Shame brings out feelings of inadequacy. Let’s move beyond it!
1. Address the situation internally.
Feel your feelings. Replay the memory no matter how hard it is. Let yourself feel. Don’t stuff it down. The worst thing you can do is ignore it. It’s like knowing there are month old leftovers in your fridge and you don’t clean out the tupperware.
Go through it in your mind and ask God to remind you of his truth. Remind yourself that you have the fruit of the spirit and shame isn’t one of them.
Remind yourself of the way God forgives.
Remind yourself that nothing can separate you from God’s love and acceptance.
Open up that tupperware and deal with it!
2. Get it out.
Now, you don’t have to write a public blog post like I did, although you could. It was very cathartic. Saying the shame out loud — no matter how bad you think it is or the flip side of how insignificant you think it is – gets it out of your head.
Now, I’m only 27, but I know that the longer things rolls around in my brain the wilder they spin out of control. Once the secret is out it loses its power.
Talk to a trusted friend, pastor, church leader, counselor, family member, literally anyone who cares about you.
3. Rinse and Repeat
Getting it out there is a healthy and important step to allow God to redeem your shame, but it doesn’t mean that you’ll never feel it again. It doesn’t mean that the feelings are automatically gone or the memory stops replaying.
Rinse and repeat in the way of when the shame feelings rise up, let it happen. Feel the feelings. Remind yourself of the 3 powerful truths 1. Fruit of the Spirit. 2. The way God forgives. 3. Nothing can separate you from God’s love and acceptance.
You may have to say it over and over and over again, but there is mighty power in Jesus’ name and word.
In my experience, when I’ve allowed myself to feel the feelings and ask God to rescue my thoughts, he does. Over time, the feelings don’t rise up anymore.
I want to leave you with this. Don’t let shame hold you back. Don’t let it be the thing that’s keeping you from God’s purpose in your life. If you have the Holy Spirit, then you are capable of overcoming shame no matter what it may be.
Sin is all equal to God. And we have All Sinned. We are the ones who grade sin from not so bad to terrible. Deal with your issues.
We are living in a culture where no one wants to feel anything and we distract ourselves with something pretty.
Let’s be different. Let’s be strong enough to recognize that God wants best for us and doesn’t want us covered in shame. We are free. Live like it!