Shame is a heavy burden. It’s likely you have experienced it, are currently experiencing it or will experience it in future. But the Lord does not call us to feel shame or to let burdens weigh us down.
For me, shame has been a feeling of unworthiness, often due to my consciousness of sin. It’s where we believe we must hide ourselves, building a wall of shame between us and God.
Personally, I’ve let shame and guilt have a strong hold over me for the past few years because of my own sins. In particular, I struggled with the weight of my past sexual sins. As a young girl who has been brought up in the church, with sex being a bit of a taboo topic, I didn’t know how to cope with the guilt from my own sin. I let this weigh me down, and it has only been over the past few months that I have really overcome my shame.
I think it’s important to distinguish between guilt and shame. A few years ago, at Soul Survivor, Rachel Gardner described guilt as feeling bad for what you’ve done, whilst shame is feeling bad about who you are. It’s a feeling that comes from within, about who you believe you are. It can be really damaging and can often lead us to push God further away.
Shame can be expressed in many ways. For example, if you are self-conscious, this might be because of the shame you feel in your body. If you are holding back and not allowing yourself to try new things or speak out this could be because of shame. Shame might be expressed through anger or fear or worry because of your inward feelings towards yourself. You may feel shame in all kinds of ways, but we need to push past it and believe that we are who God says we are, and he does not call us to be ashamed.
God’s perfect plan for us was to feel no shame, just like it was for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. However, sin entered our world, and from then on, the enemy has been trying to whisper lies to us. The enemy works in the darkness, where he tries to convince us that we should hide. So we build that wall of shame, protecting ourselves for fear of condemnation.
Whilst shame is not from the Lord, in some way, there is also a purpose to shame. Sometimes we feel shame in ourselves for what may seem like no reason, but often we feel shame as a result of our own sin. We shouldn’t brush lightly over sin, as our sins do have consequences. However, Jesus died so that we might be free, as it says in Ephesians 2:4-10: “because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Through the power of the cross, we no longer have to carry the weight of our sin and shame.
This passage shows us how incredible the Lord we serve is! Even though we will always fall short and be found dead in our transgressions (our sin), God’s grace is so powerful. We do not need to be ashamed. If you are struggling with the weight of your shame, I pray that you would really come to know how much the Lord loves you. If you understand who God is, then you can begin to understand how much he cares for you and loves you. Rest in God, lean on him and ask him to take away your shame.
I’d lastly really encourage you to speak to others, I’ve learnt so much through sharing my experiences with those around me, and you might even find that some of them feel the same way you do or have experienced the same things you have! And you do not need to fear condemnation. Freedom can be found when you give it all to God and talking to someone can really help in taking this step of faith. I hope that today, you might understand that your shame does not come from the Lord and remember the enduring steadfast love the Lord has for you.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”
Massive thanks to Katy for writing for the ESC Blog! We hope that this post was able to speak to you all in some way. If you have any questions or additional thoughts, please be sure to contact us or feel free to leave a comment down below. Again, a huge thank you to Katy for this post.