Have you done anything you were afraid to tell your family and friends about? Something so horrendous you think there is no way anyone would love you if they knew? You walk around smiling at others, all the while feeling disgrace from your past.
That is the power of shame.
Shame makes us feel unloved and unlovable. We’ve all been embarrassed by a teacher, parent or friend. But shame takes it one step further. Shame makes it so we’re afraid to go around others. It’s especially powerful in the Christian community.
The last thing we want is for others to know our sins. We keep our secrets hidden so deep no one can ever find them. And it eats us up inside. We turn bitter and angry because of this thing we hide. So afraid if it’s ever discovered, we will lose our friends and our family. Afraid we will lose love.
Shame comes in different forms. There’s disgrace, embarrassment, and humiliation.
Shame isn’t a quiet grey cloud, shame is a drowning man who claws his way on top of you, scratching and tearing your skin, pushing you under the surface. – Kirsty Eagar, author of Raw Blue
Shame taunts you in the back of your mind. It tells the woman who had an abortion, “You’re a killer”. Shame tells the man who watches porn, “You’re a pervert.” And shame whispers to the girl who was sexually abused, “It was your fault.”
We are even more afraid when shame asks, “What will others think when they find out?” That’s another one of shame’s greatest tools. The fear of being discovered holds us hostage in the past. It keeps us from fully enjoying God’s joy in our lives.
However, there is a way out of the painful clutch of shame. Talk to Jesus. 1 John 1:9 says, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. He’s there for you anytime you need him. He offers forgiveness for anything you’ve done in your past. And in time, with God’s love, you’ll be able to help others by telling them your story.
Once you realize God’s love for you no matter what has happened to you, shame no longer has any power.
We need to live in the present and forget about our past mistakes and hurts. What we’ve done can’t be erased, but it can be forgiven and forgotten. Our loving Father is willing to accept you as you are today, not disown you for what you occurred years or even minutes ago.