Happy 2016! Hope you had a fabulous New Year!
My resolutions for 2016 involve a year without sugar-coating (more to come), a year of silliness, a year of prayer-circling, and a year without shame! If you’re interested in making 2016 your year of no-shame living, I’d like to challenge you to join me in my 31 days without shame e-devotional.
I’ll be sending out a daily blog post throughout the month of January with quotes, bible verses, and questions from Overcomer to keep you (and me) focused on living without shame as we kick off this new year.
If you haven’t signed up to receive my emails, please do so at the bottom of the homepage. And as you learn any lessons about shameless living, please contact me to let me know. I’d love to know your insights!
As always, please share, post, comment as well- because I love to hear from you and others!
So, let’s get started!
What is Shame?
“Shame encompasses such wide range of emotions it can be difficult to define. Perhaps the simplest way to understand it is to think back on a moment when you experienced it. You may have felt embarrassment, discomfort, or self-consciousness. Shame can also express itself in much weightier emotions, such as when we feel humiliated, inadequate, or injured.
Another difficulty with shame is that so many women live under the weight of it without knowing it because they’ve been conditioned by culture and life experience to accept that feeling as normal. Shame is simply always there. It’s that familiar yet profound feeling that we don’t measure up. Dr. Brené Brown, a leading expert on shame in women, describes it this way:
‘People often want to believe that shame is reserved for the unfortunate few who have survived terrible traumas, but this is not true. Shame is something we all experience. And while it feels like shame hides in our darkest corners, it actually tends to lurk in all the familiar places, including appearance and body image, motherhood, family, parenting, money and work, mental and physical health, addiction, sex, aging, and religion.’
While it’s certainly not the only emotional issue we deal with, like a friend of mine says, shame is similar to the phenomenon of learning about a new car you’ve never heard of before and then suddenly seeing it everywhere. (That’s the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon for you trivia people. You can now officially show off at parties.) Once you begin to recognize shame, you realize how much it permeates your life. Think about it…
Maybe you are obsessively counting calories or compulsively exercising, desperate to control some piece of your life. Maybe your mother continually critiques your appearance and so you always feel ashamed of the way you look. Maybe you’re self-conscious about not having a steady boyfriend when all your friends are engaged or married, and you just want someone to put a ring on it already! Perhaps a friend stabbed you in the back, your dad was emotionally or physically absent, or your husband has a secret addiction, and you think it’s all somehow your fault. Shame is lurking in all of these things.
You could be stressed about your children, and how you are handling things at home. The voice in your head says, I’m not a very good mother. Maybe you feel like a failure because life got hard and now your dreams are out of reach. Perhaps you’ve experienced so much loss and grief that you can’t help but think you’re the problem. Maybe you go through life with ever-present feelings of inadequacy—you worry what other people would think if they knew the real you. Possibly you’ve been fighting a lifelong battle of some kind, and it seems like anyone else in your shoes would handle it better than you. Shame is hard at work in your struggles.
And there’s the pressure we get in our Christian culture to operate above reproach all the time, which leads us to feel ashamed when we make even a tiny mistake. In fact, we may believe that if we aren’t shaming ourselves, we’re in danger of becoming prideful. So we choose to beat ourselves up as the “better,” more ‘Christ-like’ option. It’s a vicious cycle. With family, culture, society, and even our faith community’s expectations of what and who we should be, shame can be overwhelming as well as confusing. I could go on and on. (At this point, I’m just depressing us.)
The root of the word “shame” is actually derived from the phrase ‘to cover.’ As in Adam and Eve were so ashamed of their sin they covered themselves with fig leaves. Shame became their new wardrobe.
However, the good news is that Jesus took our sin on his shoulders, forever changing our eternities, but he also did something else. He took our shame with him to the cross. Jesus endured the cross and scorned—looked down on, despised, had no respect for—its shame (Hebrews 12:2). How cool is that? Jesus shamed shame! Through his death and resurrection, he demolished the power of shame—forever!
If you find it hard to believe this for yourself right now, that’s okay. Freedom from shame is a journey that happens one step, one hope, one healing at a time. For now, I invite you to hold on to a truth I believe strongly enough for the both of us: You can overcome anything shame throws your way when your identity is built on Christ—not only knowing who you are in Christ, but in knowing who Christ is in you.”
In what ways might your life might be different if you were truly free from shame? For example, think about the impact it would have on your relationships, work, faith, and aspirations. Ask God to help you live in freedom from shame one day at a time.
God, I praise you because even in my darkest moments, you were there. While I don’t fully understand it, I know you have the power to help me overcome shame, because you’ve already done so on the cross. Amen.
(Sections taken from Overcomer by Aubrey Sampson. Copyright © 2015. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com. All rights reserved.)