Our Shame-Based Identity
For several years, I pored over countless books, studies, and teaching videos, to glean nuggets of wisdom that would help me be a more effective husband, father, and citizen. I met weekly with a small group of like-minded men who were committed to deep, honest vulnerability and accountability.
Although I sat under the anointed teaching of countless men of God, it was something I heard one particular national conference speaker say that has continued to resonate in my mind and heart since the day I first heard it:
“We teach what we know, but we reproduce who we are.”
That is so powerful and profound! I teach this principle in my counseling practice nearly every day. I’ve tried to engrain it into my adult children ever since the day I first heard it. I strive to live it as a mantra in my own life. So, obviously I feel strongly that the readers of my first book need to understand it. This paradox serves as a quiet voice underlying every aspect of every word, page, and chapter of this book.
There is an intrinsic part of these words, though, that sends a message even more relevant than the nature of what is “taught” or “reproduced.” It is the implication – maybe even claim – that the footprint we leave in this world will not be a measurement of what we do but a reflection of who we are.
There is a not-so-common word assigned to this concept of reproducing who we are. The word is to impart. The Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary defines “impart” in this way: “To give, convey, or grant from.”
What makes imparting unique is that it is more about the learner than it is about the teacher. More about what is being learned than what is assumed to be being taught. Shame works that way. Human beings have a propensity to have shame imparted to (into) them when the source may not even know they are imparting it.
Over the past fifty years or so, our American culture has come to associate the concept of “shame” with something that is necessarily undesirable or hurtful. In all fairness, shame is an integral part of how we as human beings effectively function in this world, but it has been hijacked by the enemy and turned into an obstacle to our experiencing the unconditional love of our Creator.
Two Sides of Shame
The moment we received Christ as Savior, the Holy Spirit (the spirit of Jesus sent to His followers after He ascended into heaven) came to live in our hearts. Billy Graham said, “There is not a person anywhere who can be a Christian without the Holy Spirit. There is not a person who can follow Christ without the help of the Holy Spirit.”
As you can imagine, the presence of a Holy God taking up residence in the heart of a less-than-holy individual tends to create an inner tension. This tension is illustrated by the two sides of an imaginary coin: 1) the side surrendered to God’s spirit within, and 2) the side driven by the needs of self.
The apostle Paul described this ongoing battle within himself in Romans 7:19-25 (MSG):
“I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.”
You and I are really no different than Paul. Mere men and women living life with an inner battle – not a battle for good versus bad or right versus wrong or black versus white, but a struggle between flesh and spirit. Our nature versus Jesus’s nature. Control versus surrender.
Soul health and spiritual maturity cannot be separated. Our counselors are ordained Christian ministers as well as certified and licensed Christian counselors. We are able to help you experience freedom from shame, anxiety, depression, or marriage / relationship conflict with methods that are purely Christ-centered. Please click on this link to learn much more about how our MARRIAGE COUNSELING can help you become a more authentic follower of Christ, and help you find freedom from identity dependence.
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