Letting Go of Shame
Isaiah 61:7 Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.
Shame is perhaps the most painful of all emotions. In the life of someone who is shame based it is the “inner critic.” So many times while ministering to someone I have found that shame is by far the most crippling of all emotions. It goes to the very core of who a person is and how they see themselves and how they perceive others see them as well. It is not the same as feeling guilty. True guilt from God will lead us to repentance. Guilt is that voice or feeling that reminds us our wrong doings or acts we have committed against God or others and is aimed at correcting our future behavior and bringing restoration. True guilt, when impressed on our hearts by the Holy Spirit should cause us to run to the arms of a loving and forgiving God where we will find love and total acceptance. Shame or false guilt is completely different in that the message the heart received is not about the act (the doing) we committed but rather its condemnation and is aimed at the core of our innermost self. Its target is not to remind us of what we have done, but “who” and “what” we are. Often time’s shame and guilt blend together until it’s almost impossible to distinguish between the two. Shame strikes its blow at the inner being and often times binds with and hides behind other emotions, such as anger, fear, and self-hatred so that it is often hard to detect. Shame is the voice that condemns us by saying. “Just look at YOU!”, “No one would want YOU for what you have done or what has happened!” YOU are a broken and damaged mess!” God could never love some like YOU or forgive YOU for what happened!” Do you see the difference? Shame is very personal. It burrows deep into our being and questions our character, integrity and true self. At its root is the false and painful belief in one’s basic defectiveness as a human being.
Many people go to great lengths to avoid acknowledging or even feeling shame and unfortunately this gets in the way of making progress in healing. Often times they are shut off from others in fear of being exposed. The person in the clutches of shame believe deep in their hearts that something is basically wrong with them as a human being. Shamed based people are usually overly bothered by their shortcomings, while the guilty ‘notice’ their transgressions. Shamed based people see themselves as not being good enough and may perhaps think they are not as smart as others, not as attractive as their friends. They see themselves as outsiders, marked, labeled and damaged. They see their whole-self as a failure and feel defective. By contrast, a guilty person may say to themselves, ”I wish I hadn’t done that, I have gone too far and harmed others and I feel bad for what I’ve done!.” The one who feels guilty fears punishment. Guilt often times is felt in our heads while shame is felt in our bodies. By that I mean shame causes us to react physically to what we are feeling. The shamed often look away when being spoken to and have a head down posture about themselves and to begin to feel smaller and smaller while the other person seems to get bigger. It’s as if the person is shrinking or recoiling and trying to take up less room. They often times feel vulnerable and exposed and another’s persons look almost seems to touch them and the only relief that would suffice would be to completely vanish. Unlike the guilty, the person who lives in shame fears abandonment. The reason a shamed person feels abandonment is that they believe they are too flawed to be wanted or valued by others. Normally this person also doesn’t love or respect themself and expect others to leave them the moment others realize they are less than perfect or become aware of what has happened to them.
In ministry I have found that shame is much more difficult to heal than guilt because it is about the person rather than specific actions. “How does a person begin to let go of shame?” Normally it’s a slow and sometimes painful process that involves looking deeply and directly at our basic assumptions about our right to belong and our place in the kingdom of God. Healing takes place when God changes our self-concept so that we see what He sees and honor what He has said is honorable.Self-hatred and shame develops in the heart, one insult at a time. Likewise, your sincere love walked out over a long period of time helps heal those who have walked in shame. By your very presence, constant encouragement and concern for their life the lie of abandonment begins to lose its power over their life.The good news is that the sweet touch of Jesus is the cure for shame.
Dear children of God , there is nothing that you have done or anything that has happened to you that Jesus is unwilling to touch. A touch from Jesus in the heart where shame hides, will change it. Although that may seem like a scary experience, Jesus the Holy One of God is more than willing to touch that place to deliver you out of your shame into the fullness of Him. Jesus is Most Holy in that whatever He touches even that thing that was once defiled, becomes clean! Beloved, when shame has been healed the focus turns from “Oh….Look what a mess I have made with my life!”…..”To look what Jesus has done with my life!” Jesus heart towards us is to “ministers to our messes” while promising a great exchange!