Left unaddressed, shame will strip us of self-worth. It will drain our passion, neutralize our faith, and steal our joy.
Throughout my childhood I lived with the shame of being the son of an alcoholic. As a child, I reasoned like a child--Dad gets drunk because I am bad. I convinced myself that my father chose to spend time with his bar buddies instead of me because I wasn't worth spending time with. I believed that, if only I were a better son, he wouldn't have to get drunk all the time.
As an adult, I discovered that shame is not simply outgrown. One does not merely "get over it."
Well into my adult years, after my dad quit drinking, after our relationship was restored, I found myself still bound by the chains of shame. Dad's drinking days were over, but the effects still had hold of me. I was still shackled by the voice of shame--You don't matter. You will never amount to anything. You don't deserve to be loved.
The voice of shame may be that of our father or mother or ex or kids on the playground. It may be our own. Unfortunately, we may sometimes even attribute it to God. But let's be clear. Shame comes from one place--the mouth of the evil one.
What better way for Satan to hold us back from living the lives that God wants us to have than to continually remind us how unlovable and unworthy we are? How can we experience the blessing of God if we are convinced we don't deserve it because of the things we've done or that were done to us?
The inevitable result of shame is self-rejection. And rejecting ourselves will never serve to help us to grow spiritually. In the words of Henri Nouwen, “Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us Beloved.”
For us to find freedom from the grip of shame we must not only reject the lies of the evil one, we must embrace the truth the Holy One.
And what is the truth? The Bible tells us:
- God is a Father who enjoys spending time with His children.
- God is a Father who values us deeply.
- God is a Father who forgives us when we've done wrong and helps us to forgive when we have been wronged.
- God is a Father who longs for us to not only experience peace in our lives, but peace that passes our comprehension; not just joy, but fullness of joy; not just life, but abundant life.
- God is a Father who calls us beloved.
Shame is a prison in which far too many of us are living. But our Heavenly Father offers us freedom. It is found when we discover and experience in our souls His truth. Search His Word for yourself. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (Jn. 8:32).