- Posted by Edith Ohaja
- On June 30, 2017
- 140 Comments
Intro by Edith Ohaja
The subject of shame is not an easy one to handle because it comes in different forms and is highly misunderstood. Shame can be helpful as something that prevents us from doing sordid stuff because we don’t want to be identified with those types of practices. So when people are described as having no shame, it implies they don’t mind the stigma that comes from repugnant behaviour, they don’t give a hoot if they are branded by their discreditable actions.
But there is another kind of shame where we define ourselves by things we did in the past or things that were done to us. This kind of shame could also arise from a feeling that we don’t measure up to some standard, perhaps of beauty, intellect or wealth. How does this kind of shame fit into the concept of being saved, redeemed by the blood of Christ? What are the implications of this kind of shame in the life of a believer?
My dear friend and sister, Karissa Smith, has adeptly handled this confusing subject in this post. Karissa shares from her growing up experience and walk with the Lord to help us understand our place in Christ and the right attitude we should have towards the second type of shame described above.
Many thanks to Karissa for sharing with us. I pray great enlargement of coast for her in her family and ministry in Jesus’ name. (You can learn more about her at the end of the post.)
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV)
YOU DONT HAVE TO LIVE IN SHAME
It came when I was a child.
Traumatic events sowed a seed and I didn’t even know.
And I didn’t know that it would go deep.
It would go even deeper before it grew wide.
It whispered lies to me about who I was and who I would become.
Ultimately, it brought me to a place in which I believed that to value myself at all was very wrong.
It was shame that came and grew.
And oh how crippling shame can be.
Paralyzing the legs that were meant to run.
Covering the light that was meant to shine.
Hiding the jewels meant to be shared.
And yet some Christians embrace shame as a loyal friend.
According to Dictionary.com shame is “the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another”.
Let’s be clear! Shame is not to be confused with guilt.
Dr. Neel Burton of Psychology Today notes this about shame:
“Shame says, ‘I am bad.’ Guilt says, ‘I did something bad.'” He also says this of shame: “‘Shame’ derives from ‘to cover’, and is often expressed by a covering gesture over the brow and eyes, a downcast gaze, and a slack posture.”
A painful feeling
similar to guilt but different…
It told me who I was,
and I hid.Shame paralyzes our legs and covers our light. - Karissa Smith Click To Tweet
You see, part of my story and experience with shame is that I became exposed to sexual things as a child. And it opened up things inside of me that I did not understand. I did not know how to cope.
The shame was deep and the lies were intricate-too complicated for me to understand as a child. Too many variations of deception for me to realize at the time.
What I thought I understood is that I must somehow be less lovable. I was still shown love. But shame is powerful and so I believed the lie that I was broken in a way that could not be undone. I really thought it would mark me for the rest of my life.
Isn’t that what shame does? It says: “This is who you are, and there is nothing you can do about it. You are doomed to be broken, ugly and stained for the rest of your life.”
On top of that, I grew up under teaching that emphasized sin as a way of motivating us towards holiness.
So I believed it was okay to despise myself. It was good to have shame. I was a sinner after all, right?
And if I was a sinner, why wouldn’t I be ashamed?
And this focusing on my sin… wouldn’t it make me better?
Wouldn’t it motivate me to grow in Christ?
But here’s the thing…
I didn’t know who I was.
Outside of Christ, shame makes sense.
Shame says that I am morally incompatible.
Unworthy of His love and affection.
You see, shame is so deeply attached to who we are.
But guess what? I wasn’t outside of Christ. My name was not sinner anymore.
I didn’t know… I didn’t really understand that Christ radically changed who I was.
So this begs the question: Who are we?
What Does God Say?
- In Christ, our identity has changed fundamentally. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
- We are NO LONGER ENEMIES. We are now accepted by God. (Colossians 1:21-22)
- JESUS took our shame. He bore it on the cross. (1 Peter 2:24)
- God now sees the righteousness of Christ when He sees us. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
- We are no longer slaves to sin. (Romans 6:6)
- Our old man has been crucified with Christ. (Galatians 2:20)
Do we as Christians still sin sometimes? Yes, we do. Is it okay to feel guilty for our actions? Yes.
Should we celebrate sin and revel in it? No! That would be dishonoring God who sent His Son to pay the debt for our sins and reconcile us to Himself.
We should repent when we err and with God’s help, we shall be transformed from glory to glory to represent His image we continually behold in His word (2 Corinthians 3:18).
What’s Your Story?
Perhaps, you are haunted by shame but your story may be different from mine. Your shame may come from some physical imperfections, your slowness at learning, your very humble background, some apirations that have so far eluded you (e.g. getting married, earning a degree, becoming a parent, getting a good job …). Whatever its source, if you are living in shame, you don’t know who you are.
No one can tell you who you are but God and this is what He says about you.
God says you are loved. (Romans 8:37-39)
God says you are redeemed. (Ephesians 1:7)
He says you are free. (John 8:36)
He says you are His child. (Galatians 4:7)
God says you’re fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 149:14)
God says you are a co-heir with Christ. (Romans 8:17)
God says you are a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
God says he has blessed you with everything that pertains to life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3)
And guess what?
It’s okay to believe Him!Believe what God says about you rather than the lies of shame. - Karissa Smith Click To Tweet
Friends, if you are tempted to believe the lie that to value yourself is prideful, think again! If you are tempted to believe that it is godly to embrace shame, think again!
It is a trick of the devil to get you to stay in a place of despising yourself. Because if you despise yourself, you aren’t really understanding the gospel. You aren’t really believing the implications it has in your life.
And if you don’t understand and embrace the good news of Jesus Christ that says you are new, clean, free and complete in Him, you can’t fully experience the reality of it. And you certainly will not share that good news. And isn’t that what the enemy wants? He knows the power that comes from complete redemption and freedom in Christ.
Friends, I know it isn’t easy. Shame can go so deep. And the people around you might encourage you to hold onto it. But please don’t forget… it is only God who can tell you who you are. Believe what God says about you. Make His words the focus. Because what you focus on is what you will become.
Be encouraged! Christ’s complete work on the cross has given you new life- new identity. As you choose to hold on to this, I guarantee you will see God move in powerful ways in your life. And when He does, don’t forget to share the stories. Your identity matters. You matter!
Have you ever struggled with shame for any reason? Care to share how you overcame it?
What aspect of this post touched you most?
You are blessed!
ABOUT THE WRITER:
Hello! I’m Karissa. I’m from Illinois, USA. I have a bachelor’s degree in social work, but now I get to stay at home with my children. I love coffee, photography, writing, people, and Jesus. I got saved when I was five years old, and it was my mom who led me to the Lord. Since then my understanding of the gospel has continued to grow deeper, richer and sweeter.
I’m happily married to a strong and kind man of God who loves people and truth. We have two incredible children who truly amaze and inspire us. You can get to know more about me and my family over at becomingkiona.com. It’s a place that is all about inspiring and equipping you to become all that you were created to be in Christ. I believe you are a warrior for Christ-created with a beautifully unique identity and an amazing purpose. Your identity matters. You matter! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Facebook.
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