17 ShamePosted: April 20, 2012
I have danced around the subject of shame. Previous posts provided tools to deal with it. I hope that you are ready to hear about this deep, dark, intractable subject.
(H)e raped her…Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornamented robe she was wearing. She put her hand on her head and went away; weeping aloud as she went…And Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman. 2 Samuel 13:14,19,20
Shame feels like hopelessness, emptiness, worthlessness, loneliness or pain. Shame relentlessly hits our souls and identities with negative messages. Shame diminishes and intensifies, but it never completely goes away. Triggers remind us of our shame.
Our identities developed in childhood. Back then, we believed what happened to us was about or even because of us. When parents or other significant people in our lives wounded us repeatedly, we came to believe that we were defective. This formed our shame-based identity.
Shame feels like guilt, and so we may confuse the two. Indeed, they intermix when we sin as others sin against us. To heal from shame, we need help discerning the difference between the two. With guilt, we confess how we hurt others and receive forgiveness through the blood of Christ. With shame, we need to acknowledge how other people hurt us, which can involve letting ourselves feel the anger we have towards them. Throughout this process, we need to forgive them through the power which Christ’s blood affords us. We resist forgiving, especially so when others do not acknowledge how they hurt us. We still need to forgive them. Forgiving can be a long and difficult process. Yet it ultimately frees us. As Francis Frangipane writes, “Unforgiveness is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
Beyond forgiving, we need to receive from God our new identity as forgiven and beloved. As we receive God’s forgiveness and love, our shame-based identity fights back and struggles for survival. When we try to kill our shame-based identity, we shame ourselves. We actually feed it in trying to destroy it. Rather, we need to let go of the old identity and allow God to transform us into our new identity in Christ. We cooperate with Him when we stop trying to earn His love, yield to Him and let Him give us our new identity.
Let go of shame. Shame can stick like glue and it resists dying. Do not focus on shame. Rather, focus on God, His love and forgiveness. God created us. He nurtures our new self. Open your heart and mind to Him. Crying out to Him opens your heart to Him. Receive His love as gift.
Much of our recovery involves letting go of shame and receiving God’s love.
Learning to see myself as His beloved,
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Bringing grace and truth to the downcast; reflecting the light we have received so that others can better see. Prayers needed.