Identifying Shame Messages
- God is in the business of making broken things whole. It is through the life of His spirit that we are brought back to wholeness. Nothing that has occurred in our past is allowed to have sovereign reign in our life when we summon the God of the universe for assistance.
- Those parts of our life that have been broken, emptied, or invalidated are precious to God.
- The word of God tells us how God is intimately involved with our pain: “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book” (Psalm 56:8 NLT). How amazing to know that God has His own inventory of each one of our burdens and emotions!
- He records our tears, not our wrongdoings! It is with that understanding of God’s mercy and compassion that we are able to deal with the issues in our life. God’s love toward us enables us to step out in faith and seek redemption.
- We are promised that nothing can separate us from God’s love or take it away – nothing in the past, present, or future – including all the experiences we have had (see Romans 8:38-39).
- As we continue down the pathway toward healing, we must be willing to face the very things that caused us so much pain. We must also face our own wrongful behaviors.
- If we are courageous enough to move through this process, we won’t be disappointed. It leads us into God’s peace – a place where we can abide and rest in Him, despite anything that occurs externally around us. But to get there, we must be willing to remove the turbulence that has created so much conflict. We must be willing to face the shame within us.
Shame: The Poison of the Soul
Shame is the most lethal and toxic enemy of the soul because it prevents us from knowing and experiencing the love and grace of God. It operates by the realization that we missed the mark, we failed, or we somehow didn’t measure up to a standard. Shame disrupts a sense of normalcy and wreaks havoc with our ability to be healthy and whole.
Satan will work hard to accuse, torment, and make us believe we don’t measure up to God’s standard, creating within us feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, grief, depression, and chronic anxiety. When Satan captures our minds in these ways, he in essence has control over our lives.
The word of God deals very specifically with shame. In fact, Jesus didn’t just come to remove our sin; He also came to remove the harmful effects of shame. In the context of our journey from brokenness, we believe that in order to be renewed, we must bring to light the very things we’ve tried for years to hide. By exposing these issues, the Holy Spirit seeks to cover us with God’s grace. It is in this transaction that shame loses all power over us as we are covered in the reality of God’s forgiveness, freedom, and acceptance.
Identifying Shame Messages
Identifying the shame in our lives may not come easily for some of us. Even if we begin to see events, sins, trauma, abuse, and other issues, we may be unable to see how shame took root. We often think that shame is a direct result of things we have done, or things that have been done to us. That is not necessarily the case. Shame is also a byproduct of the way others have imposed standards on us.
When we have been violated, neglected, or had painful words spoken into us – especially in childhood – they sent a message directly into our heart. The act itself was bad, but the message it sent had the potential to affect us for the rest of our life.
Shameful messages can also say, “You’re bad, you’re stupid, you’re fat, you’re ugly,” and much more. And these internalized messages typically result in some form of obsessive thinking and/or compulsive behavior.
The one who spoke the shameful message planted the seed. The one who received the message experienced the message taking root, allowing it to control their thoughts, feeling, and behaviors to some degree.
Does that mean it is the fault of the one who spoke it? Not exactly. The problem is that as children we often automatically believe what our parents or trusted adults tell us. Eventually we might reject those messages. But in our early years, we accept them as fully true, and don’t realize we have an option to do otherwise.
And further, when we carry shame, we unknowingly superimpose it on others. Shame is often passed from one generation to the next, as we’ve looked at in great detail in an earlier chapter.
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Life Training offers convenient sessions at our office in Louisville, Kentucky, as well as online counseling via Zoom or FaceTime. Our non-profit counseling practice has an outstanding track record for over a decade helping men and women, individuals and couples who are ready to move beyond anxiety, depression, and conflicts in marriage or other relationships find hope and healing in their lives. Contact us today at 502-717-5433, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org