Shame Sucks (at the Soul).

Shame is lurking everywhere. It can come quietly over time as a silent killer or it can boom into life as an instant destroyer.

Consciously or unconsciously we are all walking around compensating for the things we feel ashamed of, however big or small.

I have a theory: you can recover from all kinds of calamities, mistakes, misjudgments, losses, and heartaches as long as you are able to walk out from under the cloud of shame into the redeeming light of day.

You might get fired from your job; end up with an unwanted pregnancy, or an STD; your family might disown you; your friends might turn their backs on you; you might suffer from emotional, sexual or physical abuse; you might have a failed business or file for bankruptcy; you might have an abortion or get locked up in prison; your mother, who you are still harboring resentment toward, might die; you might even kill someone or be responsible for someone dying; you might cheat on your spouse, abandon your kids, look at porn everyday, betray your family, or rip off your best friend.

But sometimes shame is subtler,

like guilt that you can’t buy your wife a new car or a new dress for the company Christmas party, or that you make less money than your friends.  Maybe you are ashamed of the choices that your children are making, or that you are a bad parent; maybe you feel like you aren’t smart enough, or your sister is prettier than you, or maybe you have disappointed your parents beyond repair.

None of this is outside of the Lord and his redemption, though it would be foolish and naive to not acknowledge the accompanying pain and consequences of our actions.  The Lord is in the business of redeeming all things, but what will ultimately keep you from living in the redemption of the Lord is shame. Shame blocks redemption because we hide from our need for redemption by not admitting our mistakes, our story, and our shame. If we can’t admit our shortcomings, we aren’t creating space for a God of healing, a God of grace.

One of the most powerful things I did over the last year was sit in a counselor’s office and say, “I feel ashamed of this…I feel guilty about that.”  It was four years too late, but echoing these words to myself helped me wrestle with my own existences and walk out the healing I needed to reconcile parts of my story. I never could have received healing if I hadn’t admitted the truth about the broken, unredeemed pieces of my heart.

It was scary to look at my pain, to sit with myself in the middle of the brokenness. About the only thing I did right was give God an opportunity to be my redeemer.

The bravest moments of my life are telling the people I love and love me about my failures, the places where I am ashamed.

I am afraid of rejection; my heart races, a knot gathers in my gut, my hands start to visibly shake and tears gather in at the contours of my lids every time I muster the courage to speak my truth. Sometimes I chicken out and leave with the same racing heart, knotted gut, shacking hands, but now the tears flowed uncontrollable because I am still trapped by my prison of shame. I hate the feeling of shame so much and not being able to look the people I love in the eyes, that after one sleepless night, I return to conquer my fears.

Admitting the truth of yourself is not a one time deal, it’s a constant journey of vulnerability and bravery.

Another theory I have formed from my brokenness is that the people that have the most to be ashamed about actually have an opportunity to live fully, because they have no other choice but to face the shameful parts of their lives, and in doing so they are able to find eminence freedom and redemption.  It is the people who are able hide their shame and their mistakes who are trapped in the fear of who they really are. For me, my big mistakes left me with no choice but to face the reality of myself and combat the shame; eminence failure set me free.

Shame sucks at our souls and kills us softly.

Shame is a liar, a deceiver, and a destroyer that keeps us from communion with God and communion with those we love the most. Shame cultivates insecurity and self-hatred. It blocks us from loving ourselves, being truly loved by God as well as those around us. Shame keeps us from looking our spouse in the eye, loving our children well in their own pain, and becoming the person that we were created to be.

Fullness of life is only found in the redemption of a Savior. Redemption is only sought by those who are greatly aware of their need and ready to live out from under the darkness of shame. It would follow that the fullness of life is at hand for those who are needy and ready to bravely face shame.

The other side of shame is the abundance of life.