Shameless: See Yourself Without Distortion
Can you think of the most embarrassing moment of your life?
Even if you don’t express it, even if no one around you knows about it, you can still experience shame by reliving the experience.
What is Shame?
Though guilt and shame both pertain to wrongdoing, there’s quite a difference in the way we experience each of them. They have different outcomes. Oxford defines guilt as “the fact of having committed a specified or implied offense or crime.” In contrast, shame is defined as “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.”
Basically, guilt says you did something wrong.
It is a conflict between your conscience and value. When you feel guilty, you acknowledge the fact that your behavior was inappropriate. With guilt, you experience remorse; you regret what you said or did. That regret will propel you to act differently in the future, to repent, and you will attempt to make amends, repair the damage, and move on.
Now, look at the bold words in the definition of shame.
Shame doesn’t say you did something wrong, but “You did this, so you’re a terrible person.” Then the pain, humiliation, and distress follow. When someone feels humiliated, they think little of themselves; they perceive themselves as less than who they truly are. They see themselves through the lens of this one occurrence, whether they were the offender or the victim.
Often, shame makes you focus more on other people’s perception of you. You feel that your reputation is damaged, whereas guilt is more between you and your conscience whether others know about it or not. Even if others don’t know about your action, you worry about the way they would see or treat you if they knew when you experience shame. Because shame focuses more on others’ perceptions, moving forward can be challenging. After all, no matter what you do to make amends, others may still see you as that “terrible person,” at least that is the thought process.
The Origin and Consequences of Shame
I’m sure we’ve all heard the expression “I wanted to crawl under a rock” when someone recounts an embarrassing situation. That’s precisely what shame does; it encourages us to hide. Before I get into that, let’s go back to the origin of shame. Genesis 2:25 tells us that the man and his wife were both naked in the garden and felt no shame. They only experience shame after eating the forbidden fruit.
Their following actions were to cover themselves and hide from God.
See what the man said in Genesis 3:10, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” So, sin introduced shame and shame, fear. Adam was hiding from the one who gave him his breath, his source of life.
When we are driven by shame, we cover up and hide from ourselves; we live in our own shadow. We look in the mirror and can’t even recognize ourselves with all the cover-ups. Shame will tell you, “You are a terrible parent, friend, daughter, etc.” When you agree with shame, you will then see yourself unworthy of receiving love and undeserving of the relationships in your life.
People can experience such intense shame that they feel that they are damaged beyond repair. Many parents, especially fathers, leave their family due to shame. They think they are not good enough; they are worthless and not deserving of their family. Or they believe the family will be better off without them. Shame is so intense that it takes many to the grave way before their time. Many committed suicide because they struggle with shame. They thought, “The world will be better off without me.”
For a lot of others, shame is more subtle but just as destructive.
I’ve met people who will not go to the grocery store without a full-face glam, buy designer clothes and bags they can’t afford, won’t take a picture unless they know they’ll have time to edit their face and their shape. I had a friend who told me how she couldn’t wait to get her degree to work two jobs so she can afford every plastic surgery that there is.
There’s a difference between people who like makeup, who find it fun, and those who use it to hide. Others jump from relationship to relationship, trying to hide in their partners. The expensive clothes, makeup, relationships are fig leaves. They can cover the physical nakedness, but what about the nakedness of the soul?
Many remain in unhealthy/abusive relationships because shame tells them that’s what they deserve. “That must be punishment,” they say. If you made a mistake in your previous relationship, if you repented, God has forgiven you. Yes, our actions have consequences, but God does not keep us in the shackles of our past and keep reminding us of our missteps. That’s the enemy’s job to accuse us.
What Does God Say?
Instead, God extends an invitation to settle the matter once and for all, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
Yes, God’s grace is for you too. Yes, you! You deserve His best for you through the redemption of Christ because you become his child, and He said if us, wicked know to give good things to our children, how much more would he not give us great gifts? As a matter of fact, Apostle Paul tells us that “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32. Also, James 1:17 tells us that every good and perfect gift comes from above.
Stop Pushing Love Away!
Some look at their past and say, “There’s no way he or she could have loved me; I am a teenage mom; I used to live a promiscuous life, etc. Who am I to deserve a man like him.” That’s not humility; that’s humiliation and shame.
Let me leave you with this; Isiah 54:4 says, “Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.” With shame came fear, but the Lord says not to be afraid because you will not be put to shame.
Which report will you believe?
It’s time to live shamelessly!!!
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