Hey, so, shame sucks.
I don’t know if there is quite so great an enemy to the experience of living a fulfilled life than shame. Shame does a lot of things, but its most significant impact is found in the disabling of our effectiveness. As believers, our whole goal is to love God and love others well. But, when we’re so intensely distracted and disabled by our failures and shortcomings, we become so self-consumed and attempt to hide our shame in self-reliance to the point that there suddenly seems to be no time or motivation to minister to others. Then we spend a ton of time, upset and lonely, wondering why it seems so hard to connect with God and other people, hidden from how consumed we are by our shame.
A couple days ago, I finally confided in a friend about something I had been frustratingly harboring in my heart for years and years, and she prayed for me, loving and trusting me all the more after I confided what I believed to be an unlovable and unforgivable thing about me. But not only did she pray over me and comfort me, but she in turn told me about something very similar that she had walked through.
Shame loses its power the moment we reveal it to another person—vulnerability is not weakness or a revealing of our personal shortcomings and inabilities; it is a deliberate declaration of war on what the Enemy tries to defeat us with. Bringing all of our experiences, thoughts, and fears to the Light gives way for the King of Glory to wash away the things we have tried to keep secret—there is so much freedom to be found when we speak the lies out of our minds, when we speak what we’ve been dwelling on from our past or present out of our minds, and in to the loving hearts of people who know nothing but joy in receiving the darkest parts of us.
C.S. Lewis so brilliantly stated, “I sometimes think that shame, mere awkward, senseless shame, does as much towards preventing good acts and straightforward happiness as any of our vices can do.”
The most amazing thing to me about shame is how easy it is to get rid of it—a conversation. Probably a total of 30 seconds to 2 minutes could rid you of the deepest darkness settled in what you believe to be the most terrifying parts about you.
Freedom in seconds.
Long-carried weight lifted in seconds.
What a strange thing that we refuse on the grounds of the uncomfortable admittance of our struggles.
Fear of rejection really likes to pick at our shame, and know that I’m not encouraging you to walk out in to the middle of the street and shout what you’ve been hiding from everyone to strangers. Find your closest friend, a trusted confidant. Everyone struggles, and the likeliness is they will in turn share their own shame with you.
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
I’ve found it is much easier to bear others’ burdens compared to my own. We were never, by any stretch of the imagination, designed or intended to walk alone in anything.
A big part of being like Jesus comes in the form of not just offering physical provisions, which is incredibly important, but emotional and spiritual ones. Willingness to be vulnerable with our shame and provide open arms and love for others dealing with their own shame is so important to growing in what God has called us to—love God and love others.
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me,’” (Matthew 25:35-36).
What a hunger for community and freedom we develop in situations of hiding our shame. What thirst we develop for hope and one day walking in to joy when we hide our pain from the community built to lift us up. What nakedness we feel when we sit in our own rejection. What sickness we feel consumed by our shortcomings. What imprisonment we experience behind the bars of our shame.
Christians are called to be places of refuge, for believers and nonbelievers, because that’s Who God is—a refuge and a place of raw Love, Peace, and Truth.
Bear one another’s burdens.
House the homeless, listen to the heavy-laden, comfort the distraught, welcome the wanderer, feed the hungry, pray for the fearful, shower love on the ashamed.
For our identities are not found in the plagues of shame, hunger, fear, or burdens; they are found in a God Who, from eternity past, has done nothing but bear every burden of ours and Love us just as we are. He is shaping us in to who He knows we are at the point of loving Him most fully. How wonderful it is that so many of our chains can be broken by those few moments of admittance.
“Fear can go to hell, shame can go there, too. I know whose I am—I belong to You.”
– Bryan and Katie Torwalt –