5 ways you can learn to shove off shame
by Christie Browning
Shame. That feeling of being unworthy, of being nothing more than the sum total of all your mistakes, of identifying as someone not good enough to be in the same league as the others. Feeling unwanted, unloved, unnecessary. Feeling afraid of pushing through to your greatness because you know the baggage you carry with you from abuse, divorce, failures, or loss.
Maybe you identify with some of those descriptive words. I know I do.
Shame was something I lived with well. No one knew I had a heap of shame in my heart… I hid it well, but the fact of the matter I was dealing with those feelings I described above. There were times when I felt close to shirking my shame, but someone in my life was close by to remind me of why I should stay in the shadows, how I was flawed beyond forgiveness and not needed because I was not necessary.
It was a long, tough journey to come out from under that shame. It wasn’t until after I had pushed through that I realized just how small and weak shame had made me. Shame ruined my life and allowed me to live in misery and manipulation far too long. Shame kept me from living out my purpose and passions.
Although the journey was a hard one, I had to come back to knowing who I was because of Who’s I was. That started with becoming a veracious student of the Truth. I read book after book, commentary on scripture, and devoured the Bible itself. Truth was the key to freedom and it’s the same for you, dear Friend.
John 8:32: “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
Here are 5 truths about shame when realized can give you power to push through to freedom:
1. Shame tells us lies. God’s Word reminds us of truth. Shame is rooted in lies. You know those things that you feel whispered in your ear…. “You are not good enough. No one cares about you. Don’t you know what you’ve done, you’re worthless.” These lies chip away at your self-worth and esteem. You can easily buy into these lies, but be a warrior in pushing back with the truth. God loves you and He demonstrated His love for you by sending His Son to die for you so that you can have eternal life. God created you specifically and has purpose-filled plans for you. You are more than conqueror. Nothing, not even your shame, can separate you from the love God has for you. But be aware… this truth is not a one-time application to the heart. It requires a daily dose and sometimes multiple doses depending on the day. Be vigilant at applying this truth. Memorize it, post it where you’ll be reminded of it, pray it out loud. Let it be the breath you breathe in — Truth in, shame out.
2. Shame is rooted in unworthiness. Trust reminds us we were bought with a great price. The feeling of being unworthy was hard for me to shake. There were labels on me that I could not shake - divorced, bankrupt, felon, failure, a disappointment. All of those came rushing at me regularly and made me feel worthless. When you sell yourself short and buy into the feeling of unworthiness, we are actually turning away from the love of our Heavenly Father who gives us that love unconditionally. He could never love you any less than He does in this moment… and He will never love you any more. That means all of His love and acceptance is yours right now! He takes you with all the good and all the bad… just the way you are.
1 Corinthians 6:20: “you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
Isaiah 44:22: “I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud, and your sins like a mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”
3. Shame minimizes our purpose. Truth gives us inspiration to uncover it. When we feel shame, we live in the shadows and corners of life. We aren’t stepping out into our God-given callings, talents and purpose. Shame keeps us from exploring and using our gifts. We’re in survival mode spiritually and emotionally and shame has choked the life out of any growth and inspiration to live boldly in which God has created us to do. However, God created you for a specific purpose. Therefore, if we aren’t living that purpose we are living an unfulfilled life. The world needs whatever it is God has given you to do and be. We weren’t meant to live small, quiet, non-consequential lives. When we get the Truth down inside us, we have a new life full of creativity and inspiration to live out loud with fullness and abundance.
John 10:10: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
4. Shame isolates us in darkness. Truth brings us together in light. Shame is deceitful and manipulating. It keeps you isolated in the dark corners. We’re afraid to come out for fear that we’ll be exposed for what we think we really are… what shame has led us to believe. One of my dear friends described it as if she was a scared animal, hiding under a bush in a deep, dark forest. You are alone. You don’t want to cultivate open, honest relationships because they may find out all that you are hiding. But when we start to step into the light, the light of God, of Truth, of Love… we can start to feel the warmth, the acceptance. We can be coaxed out from under our bush, from out of our depths and start to live, really live authentically. Not only letting others accept us for who we are, but accepting ourselves.
5. Shame hides. Truth lives freely. One of my friends, singer- songwriter, wrote these lyrics that so perfectly sums up shame’s effect on our lives:
Another morning comes along
Both sides of the bed seem wrong
You still paint your brave face on anyway
Everyday you want to quit
Tryin to make the pieces fit
But you pretend you're lacking in this game we play
For years, you've kept your wounded heart so well disguised
But now the game is up and you've got to decide
Is it gonna be hide or seek?
Is it gonna be win or lose?
Is it gonna be pride that keeps you from the love that can save you
Isn't it worth a try? There's nothing for you to fear
You can't deny the burning question here
Is it gonna be hide or seek?
Composure is your only goal
Don't wanna bear your trembling soul
But if you let your defenses go then you would learn
You don't have to wear that mask
You are loved no questions asked
There is no test to pass, no grade to earn
But instead of hiding, we must choose to live freely. We must choose to run after Truth. To apply it to our lives so that we don’t have to bear the burden of shame no more.
Isaiah 61:7: “Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.”
Romans 8:1: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.'“
If I can be set free from shame through the Truth, love and forgiveness of Jesus, than anyone can! I want people to know that they too are free to choose to get up and get moving into the beautiful future God has for them, and discover an abundance of freedom.