Oh, the bitter shame

I once had a teacher as a little girl who would rub her two pointer fingers together and say “shame, shame” when the class behaved in a less than satisfactory way. Shame. The word is defined in the OED as “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.” We can be eaten up by it. We can bury it. We may not even know it’s under all of that other baggage until we dig really deep. At times, the shame can blindside everything good in life. It can suffocate. It can paralyze. It can steal dreams, and it can take the future.

I’ve been reading Christine Caine’s new book Unashamed. The front cover reads “Drop the baggage, pick up your freedom. Fulfill your destiny.” When I was first given the book, I wasn’t going to read it. I didn’t think I had shame in my life. Boy, was I wrong. Just because I was in movie called “I’m Not Ashamed” doesn’t mean doodly-squat…

In her book, Christine pens her story of growing up adopted, abused, a girl, smart, driven, single, hurt and filled with shame that stemmed from all of those things. She writes of her journey to a shame-free life through Jesus’s unconditional love. As I was reading one of the chapters “God Moves In So We Can Move On,” I stopped suddenly and knew I wasn’t reading this book just by chance. She writes in the chapter, “I find the wilderness can hit us in the most unexpected times- like when we think we’re flourishing, and so is everyone around us. Sometimes we do not see where we are still broken or damaged or living a shame-filled life.” I’ve been in my own personal “wilderness” for more than a few months now…a place that continues to test my limits, expectations, ideas, health and ultimately my faith. It’s not a fun place to be, but I’m learning  it’s a necessary place to be in order to one day reach my own Promised Land (though I don’t know what it looks like yet). For Christine, her “wilderness” was born out of years of suppressing painful situations that occurred in her childhood. For me, it was brought about by rejection and fueled by change. All of these “you’re in a wilderness” enablers are fueled by a common source—-shame.

Shame is driven out by one thing: seeing yourself through the spiritual lens that God sees you through- the “resurrection lens through the power of Jesus who bore my shame…

It changes ‘I’m the child of divorce and can’t trust anyone to be loyal,’ to ‘Through God’s love, I’m discovering how to build trust in a relationship.’

It changes ‘I tried once and failed dismally,’ to ‘I can try again because of the grace of God.’

I changes ‘I can’t do that because I’m not gifted or educated or confident enough’ to ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’”

The shame that has created fear and uncertainty transforms to hope and faith because “God has a destiny for me (Jeremiah 29:11), God has a purpose for me (Psalm 139:16), and God is going to use me to make a difference in the world (Philippians 1:6).”

I came to the realization over the course of reading this book that one of my coping mechanisms for dealing with rejection, stress, shame, disappointment and my “wilderness” in general is packing in more stuff into my schedule. I was reminded that trusting is hard for me, but that “we must put more faith in what we do know about God than in what we don’t know about the future.”

Ultimately, because of His death and because He rose again on that 3rd day, we are set free from all chains that bind us…chains of fear, chains of sickness, chains of shame…they’re all gone because of our identity as His children. We are good enough. We are pretty enough. We are smart enough.

 WE ARE ENOUGH because of HIM.

“When the past screams…

You are hopeless.

You are useless.

You’re not good enough.

You’ll never measure up.

Tell yourself the truth…

I am alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:5)

Greater is he who is in me than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4)

I am greatly loved by God. (Romans 1:7, Ephesians 2:4, Colossians 3:12)

I can do all things through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:13)

I am God’s workamanship, created in Christ for good works. (Ephesians 2:10)

I am more than a conquer through Him who loves me (Romans 8:37).”



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