Shame is a feeling that plagues the lives of many, and I know I can personally attest to that fact. Many of us are in a daily battle of hiding our mistakes because we feel too ashamed to tell anyone, and especially too ashamed to confess our mistakes to our Father in Heaven. We tend to go about shame in completely the wrong way – our shame tells us that we are unforgivable, unable to be cleansed, forever dirty, and that how we feel about our past and current sins is just the way it is.
My brothers and sisters, know that there is redemption and cleansing at the feet of Jesus.
We see the effect of shame in scripture as early as Adam and Eve. When they committed sin and ate the forbidden fruit, their first instinct was to hide because of their shame (Genesis 3:7-11). They felt vulnerable and seen. We, like Adam and Eve, also fall to the enemy’s deception and try to hide from our God who sees all.
In John 4, we can read about the woman at the well who tried to pretend she was living in a way that she was not. She tried to conceal the truth of her sin when speaking with Jesus. But Jesus already knew all that she had done, and yet He still chose to speak with her and share with her the gift of Living Water that she be saved.
Many times, our shame carries on further than guilt over what we have done, but it does so much as to convince us that we are what we have done. The enemy wants us to run with our feelings and allow them to influence the way we see ourselves and the way we believe God see us. We ALL fall short of the glory of God, but Jesus tells us that if we confess our sins, we are cleansed and redeemed from our guilt and our shame.
What does shame look like for us?
Shame can manifest in different ways. We can feel shame because of something we said or did, by our own actions, that causes us to feel ashamed and guilty. Some of us have also been on the receiving end of human evil that has left us feeling unclean. Me? I have been both of those.
We create facades and masks in which to hide our shame. We hide in relationships, jobs, religious practices, solitude, social media, distractions. We hide our shame from those who love us and those who would keep us accountable. I felt shame in the aftermath of my experience with an abusive relationship so I hid that feeling by seeking attention in ways I should not have, and I have felt shame in current sins by hiding in my busyness and distracting myself. Sin is alive in us – we are full of pride and ashamed of our failures and weaknesses.
Where do you hide?
The good news is that Jesus’ cleanness is far more powerful than any dirt we can bring to Him, He has more grace than our offenses, and He has more forgiveness than our number of sins.
How can you know that you are cleansed from your sin and your shame? The cross.
On the cross, Jesus took the full extent of my sin and of your sin. This doesn’t mean that we won’t ever feel shame and feel unclean, but we have the Truth to rest in and fight with. Praise God!
To you, the person reading this – there is no place that His love can’t reach. You are not too far gone because of what you’ve done. I know how difficult it can be to confess and how scary it can be to be vulnerable in prayer and with our brothers and sisters in Christ. I don’t know if you are hiding in shame because of things you have said and done, or if you are hiding in shame and wrapped in a feeling of dirtiness because of something that was done to you. If anything from this post sticks with you let it be this – you are not what the enemy wants you to believe you are.
This topic has been an area of deep heartache and struggle in my life, and to any of you who are currently feeling the weight of shame, I would like to leave you with a prayer.
Lord, You are powerful beyond our wildest imaginations, but your loving grace runs deeper than we can fathom. Give us the courage to confess and the strength to speak. So many of us are buried in our shame, hurting and feeling dirty. We fear You will see us differently because of what we’ve done or what has been done to us. Grant us the wisdom to know the Truth, that You gave Your Son so that we could live in the freedom of salvation, that we don’t have to hide. Bring us comfort, for we know You love us like no one else ever will. In Your Holy Name, Amen.