“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10 ESV)
I had a quiet moment one afternoon between clients, between calls and emails, and between all of the “to-dos.” I decided to turn off my phone, take off my shoes, put in my headphones, and rest for 30 minutes. Do you know what emotions I noticed instantly when I awoke? Not refreshment or peace, but Guilt and Shame. Have you met them? They are sneaky, evil masterminds. They are thieves that break in without invitation, snipers that murder for sport, and wrecking balls that demolish and devastate. Guilt and Shame have been stealing, killing, and destroying since the garden of Eden. In an effort to practice self care, I was sabotaged by an onslaught of lies like “you’re so lazy” or “you’re such a procrastinator” which resurfaced a deeper wound statement that I have wrestled with my whole life: “you’re not good enough!” How did I get from taking a short nap to feeling shame?? How does this happen?
Committing to a relationship with the Lord comes with the promise that our guilt must vanish in Jesus’ name (Romans 8:1). We identify and confess any partnerships we may be making with lies that lead to sin, and in an instant- we are reminded of the forgiveness that the Lord made available to us, through His sacrificial death and resurrection. We are set free! Or, better language might be: we are reminded that we are already free.
So… I have two questions:
Number 1: Why do I struggle with feelings of guilt and shame when I could be experiencing constant freedom?
The answer is simple: I get distracted; I forget.
I forget to be vigilant, to be alert (1 Peter 5:8).
I forget my power (James 4:7)
I forget who I am (Galations 3:26)
I forget I’m in a war-zone, and I fail to arm myself (Ephesians 6:11).
Number 2: What do I do when I feel this shame on me?
Have you ever heard someone say to you or someone else, “Shame on you!” ? I believe that when people do this, they are actually cursing the other person, similar to casting a spell or invoking some supernatural power to invoke harm. And it does cause harm!
James 3:10 says, “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.”
In my example, I noticed that I had partnered with the shame, accompanied by familiar lies, that had come into the room when I allowed myself to “put on” the shame… to have “shame on me.”
Colossians 3:14 says, “Regardless of what else you put on, wear love.” Put on love! “Keep your love on” as Pastor Danny Silk says.
So, in this quiet moment- I was given a choice. I want to teach you about this choice, because it is a powerful one that you have as well.
Choice 1. Take the path most traveled
Partnering with the presence of Guilt and Shame often feels automatic because I have become so habituated to this over the past few decades. Listen for words like “should” in these split-second choice moments…
“I really should be catching up on _______”
“I feel like resting, but I should probably call _________ back, since I have a minute”
“I should _________”
“Should” is a verb: “used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions”
When Guilt and Shame come into my awareness- they are always seeking to steal, kill and destroy my choice for freedom and rest. They vomit words like “should” into my ear. They sprinkle lies into a batch of half-truths in an effort to get me to criticize myself. They cajole and persuade me into thinking that I am not enough and that my identity is founded in something separate from what the Lord says about me, His son and His masterpiece.
Choice 2. Trail-blaze! Cut a new path
I took a trip to Uganda in my undergraduate program for some short-term mission work and during that time, we went to some very remote places. One village in particular was overgrown with dense vegetation and the people here were in need of tools to help clear some space for them to use for planting and other structures. We were given machetes to help clear the space, to make room for something else to be planted or built there!
This is what we do when we choose to say “no” to lies and deceptions tied to shame. We do some (oftentimes hard and exhausting) work to create a new “path” to travel down. As we practice this mental discipline, our brains learn a new way of responding to the presence of shame and the old, negative pathways become more inaccessible and unapproachable.
Choose to “wear love” and not to “put on shame.” You and I have power over “shame on you.” Let us not be ones who curse others this way, and let us not be ones to agree with these things spoken over us either.
To be vigilant, to be alert! (1 Peter 5:8).
How powerful you are! (James 4:7)
Whose you are, and who you are! (Galations 3:26)
You are in a war-zone, and have the ability to arm yourself through the power of God! (Ephesians 6:11).
** If you are struggling with persistent feelings of guilt and shame and need someone to walk with you in the process of overcoming these, give us a call at 303-902-3068 or email us at [email protected] We are here for you and want you to experience God’s best for your life!