I don’t fit with these people. If they knew who I am, what I have done… they wouldn’t want to be friends with someone like me.
Will I ever be able to look at my future without seeing my past? When does it stop defining me?
It’s too late for me. The stories with happy endings are for people who don’t have to deal with the kind of messes that I have in my life.
Ever had any of these thoughts? If you’re human then I am going to assume yes. I know I have.
You screw up (sometimes someone else screws up for you) and the pain turns into a monster lurking in the recesses of your mind. It haunts you night and day, reminding you of how you disappointed everyone. Family. Friends. Yourself. God.
Shame weighs heavy on your shoulders. It forces your eyes to the ground when you walk into a room. From time to time you might try to escape and move beyond its reach. But it is quick, too quick. Like a wild animal it springs into attack and isn’t satisfied until it controls you, defines you, and dictates your future.
Is there hope for life beyond shame? Can it really be left behind and a new life begun?
Here are four things that will help you leave Shame behind-
- Surrender your life to God
When you surrender yourself completely in relationship to Him without holding anything back, He fights your battles for you. Shame cannot define you if Jesus already has that role. Sin cannot wrestle away control that you have handed over to God.
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17
Often times, we resist a brand new life because it means walking through a door that spells complete death to our old way of living. We are the ones hanging onto sin and shame instead of walking away. Like that bad relationship that we can’t seem to cut the ties to, we keep access to our old life on speed dial. Just in case.
Here’s the thing: shame and sin go hand in hand. You can’t separate them. Where one is, the other follows.
Shame can be sneaky. It doesn’t always roar loud and deafen you with its condemnation. Sometimes it grows like a weed in the corners of your mind until the day you turn around and realize it is deeply embedded in everything you care about in life. Before you know it…
You are ashamed of the selfishness that built walls between you and everyone you loved.
You are ashamed of the cowardice that silenced you from doing what was right.
You are ashamed of the pride that kept you from learning the lessons you needed.
You are ashamed of the addiction that stole your affection from what actually mattered.
You are ashamed of the ambition that drove you to become something you hated.
God doesn’t want something FROM you, He wants something FOR you. He wants you to have a life free from sin and shame. Don’t just minimize it, cut it off and walk away.
2. Ask God to DEFINE you by His love
Let love in. When you finally break up with Shame, there are empty places left in your heart where it resided for so long. God’s love can flood your life and saturate your thirsty soul, filling the deepest crevices that have become dry and broken.
I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:16-19
3. Realize the strategy of the enemy
There is an enemy to the life God has called you to. It may seem hard to swallow. An invisible enemy that we can’t see or hear. But he’s real and he’s trying to stop you from living the life God has for you.
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John 10:10
When I think about how crazy it is that a thought from my past showed up in the very moment that I am trying to step out and do something courageous then it isn’t so hard for me to believe that there is someone working against me. It is all a little too strategic to just be a coincidence. The more we recognize that there is a spiritual battle taking place, the more we rise up to fight it.
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
When your phone rings and Shame shows up on your caller id, refuse that call. Don’t entertain it for a moment. Just walk away.
3. Reshape your thoughts with Scripture
The best defense is a good offense. Spend your time focused what God has for your life and pressing into those things. Then you won’t have to worry so much about getting hung up on the things that rob you of that life. Fill up your thoughts with what God thinks about you and your future and don’t leave anything leftover for Shame to creep into.
Lord, give me your unfailing love, the salvation that you promised me. Then I can answer those who taunt me, for I trust in your word. Psalms 119:41-42
You have a new beginning available. Today is the day to leave behind Shame and start again.
I am praying for you!