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I believe shame is one the most debilitating, imprisoning struggles we as Christian women face. Sometimes it squeaks by in our lives so undetectable that it takes root and becomes who we are, and it affects nearly every decision we make (or don’t make). 

Out of anger, someone I loved used to tell me on multiple occasions, “I hate you!” Hearing those words from someone I loved, and whose opinion I cherished was crushing. So, to avoid the pain of hearing them say that, I used to do whatever I could to never hear it again. But nothing I did was ever enough. I’m not exactly sure where my desire to be perfect started, but I know those harsh words confirmed the inadequacy I believed about myself, and for the longest time I had no idea what to call it. 

Until I learned about shame.

If I love you, and you hate me, that must mean I’m not good enough, right?  

And that’s what shame does to you. It tells you that you are nothing, that you are a mistake, and that your failures are evidence of that. 

Shame is defined as a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety, and also a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute. 

There is a huge difference in shame and guilt.  

Guilt says, “I failed.” 

Shame says, “I am a failure.” 

I believe the enemy wants us to feel shame because he knows that if we start believing lies about ourselves we will lose faith. We’ll stop believing in the grace of God and His everlasting love for us. We’ll believe that how we see ourselves is fact. Though God sees us as more than conquerors through Him (Romans 8:37), royalty (1 Peter 2:9), heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17), and chosen (John 15:16) 

If we fall victim to shame, which will take any opportunity we give it, we risk becoming paralyzed in our progress. 

Shame can bring on a form of paralysis that will stop us from finishing the course. 

How to Recognize Shame in Your Life 

  • Do you sometimes have an intense feeling of unworthiness? 
  • Do you sometimes look in the mirror and feel an extreme feeling of disappointment in what you see? 
  • Does it seem like everyone around you is happy, thriving, and living, while you’re just suffering? 
  • You ever got the urge to hide and not be seen for fear of being judged? 
  • You feel like you have to be perfect or always get everything right? 
  • You ever let someone walk all over you since everyone else in your life has done it too? 
  • You ever felt hopeless? Like maybe your life isn’t worth living? 
  • How about feeling paranoid that people are thinking bad thoughts about you? Or that they don’t like or love you? 

There are so many other ways shame affects us, but if you get nothing out of this, please realize that Jesus died for your shame. 

Jesus became shame so that we never have to be defeated by it. 

Isaiah 50:7, “Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.” 

Isaiah 53:4-5, “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” 

Hebrews 12:2, “…For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” 

Jesus became shame so that we never have to be defeated by it. 

How to Overcome Shame 

What you can feel, you can heal. 

When I understood that what I felt was shame, and that I was subjecting myself to a shame that no longer belonged to me, then I could heal. I had to realize that Christ has already suffered shame for me, and that meant I didn’t have to! 

Romans 8: 1, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation (disapproval or punishment) for those who are in Christ Jesus…” We are sinners, and we have a shameful past, but we have a greater future. 

We have to realize that shame is a lie. We’re not unlovable, we’re not ugly, we aren’t failures, we aren’t flawed, dirty, or hopeless. We’re precious to God. Enough for Him to become a human, endure the pain of sin and save us. To overcome shame, we have to speak God’s love over ourselves and remember that guilt, the awareness of sin, should never translate to shame, the feeling of sin. 

If we believe that Jesus took the shame, we won’t be shamed. Jesus suffered all the shame that we will ever face. If we remember that, we will always overcome shame. 

So, let’s talk about it. Have you ever experienced shame? How did you overcome it? Leave a comment below!