Shame is a No-Win Game
Friends, I’ve discovered that many people today are dying slowly in a secret tomb of shame. Some are ashamed of their poor financial condition, plagued with guilt about their irresponsible spending and debt. Others are ashamed about sexual sin from their past. Many carry extreme guilt with them into their future relationships. Countless people are crippled by the shame of secret addictions. Some people even live with false guilt after suffering as victims of sexual abuse. Some carry constant guilt over broken relationships, shattered marriages or children they may feel deep down inside they failed. Still others bear the shame they feel over a chronic health problem that affects their entire life.
Shame usually follows a pattern — a cycle of self-recrimination and lies that claims life after life. First, we experience an intensely painful event. Second, we believe the lie that our pain and failure is who we are — not just something we’ve done, or had done to us — and we experience shame. And finally, our feelings of shame trap us into thinking that we can never recover — that, in fact, we don’t even deserve to.
Finding a Way Out
Please understand that there is a way out of the cycle. It is different for each person, but it is also possible for each person, by the grace of God, no matter how uniquely and irreversibly crippling that person’s shame might feel.
When we let shame control our actions, we cannot know God, because we cannot live our lives for him. Christians, ironically, can try to live as if God doesn’t exist because, in their cycle of shame, it doesn’t seem as if He does.
One of Jesus’ disciples, Peter, broke out of his prison of shame, although the struggle was long. Jesus had predicted this fisherman-turned-disciple’s betrayal, and Peter immediately and passionately denied that he’d ever turn on Jesus.
“I’ll stand faithfully by you until the end,” he insisted.
Unfortunately, real-life events soon proved Peter wrong. A rooster’s crow reminded Peter of his denial, forcing him to face his crushing triple failure. Yet Peter refused to believe the lie that his betrayal now branded him a traitor. Broken and repentant, Peter cried out to God for forgiveness. After His resurrection, Jesus honored Peter’s desperate plea. Jesus’ forgiveness and restoration gave Peter a renewed passion, and the courage to preach a daring message at Pentecost and become one of the fathers of the Christian church.
His failure — transformed from tragedy into triumph through Peter’s repentance and God’s forgiveness — became a character-building lesson that led the way to kingdom victory.
Breaking the Shackles of Shame
Like Peter, we can break free from the cycle of shame, but only through the power of God in Christ.
We live lives of private defeat, but God wants to renew our hearts and minds and to send us into His world as lights shining in the darkness. Like Peter, we can become convinced of the truth: namely, that we are not our sins. And we’re also not what others have done to us.
Rather, we are who God says we are: His children. We are forgivable. We are changeable. We are capable. We are mold-able. And we are bound by the limitless love of God.
When we hope in what God has promised — commanded — our hope is the same as certainty.
For many, it is difficult to accept that the past has passed. Sometimes, it’s so hard just to leave it there, where it belongs. But until we do, we cannot make peace with the present or walk into the future with hope.
Changing Your Future
Once we accept the unchangeable past, we must embrace that God can change our future.
While we may always remember what happened, we need to believe that we are not what happened. We are who God says we are — new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). When we reject what our shame says about us, we can finally hear what God says about us. He is working in all things to bring about good in our lives because we love God and are called according to his purposes (Romans 8:28).
God is ready and willing to turn your shame into your strength! Are you ready to let go of that shame, repent to those you’ve hurt, and give it to Him? Your Heavenly Father is more willing to take your burdens than we are often willing to give to Him. We pray He has touched your heart today and that you will indeed choose to let go of that inner shame, give it to Christ by prayer and just be set free from that which is holding you back from His plan for your life. Freedom is just one prayer away for you. Take the step now and watch God work a supernatural miracle in your life through Jesus Christ who already suffered the guilt of all your sins, on His cross, and said, “IT IS FINISHED!”