Shame: Issues of Healing

Issues of Healing:

In order to heal our shame, we need to deal with two realities:

1. Separateness from God
Shame tells us we are not worthy of God’s grace and so we can believe that we are not able to approach God as our Father. This can come about from abusive examples of God, by being condemned by our consciences, or through the lies of Satan (who is a big influence on shame and guilt!). It is crucial that we face these things that can widen the gap between us and God so that we can know how God really sees us.

2. Lack of self-acceptance
This is a sin that goes deep into our souls and, in a way, laughs in the face of our Creator. When we do not accept ourselves, we are saying that God did not do a good job on us, that the flaws in this unit are too great to repair - like a computer that malfunctions. Shame leads us to question our own validity as human beings, creatures fearfully and wonderfully made by a loving God.

But there are ways of healing that do not work:

  1. Lowering our expectations and not striving to be all we are intended to be. By doing this we are not living up to our God-given abilities.
  2. Making ourselves acceptable through “self-improvement” - exercising, using more make up, being a good person, being liked by all, obedient (submissive and codependent), giving into peer pressure, to just name a few.
  3. Persuading ourselves that we are just fine the way we are. Ignoring the reality of shame and the benefits it can bring to us, we tell ourselves “I don’t need to change, I’m OK the way I am” when in reality we are hiding behind many masks.

So what does need to happen? Perhaps more than any issue shame has the most resistance to “self-help” ideas. With anger, procrastination, codependency, and boundaries we can almost lay out steps to deal with the problem. But as we approach shame there is a sense that “steps to healing” won’t work. You cannot make shame go away by behaving differently. This may be because shame has so much to do with the core wounds we all have and it speaks directly to our separateness from God. In fact, shame (and its close relative, guilt) may be the driving force behind our struggles with codependency, boundaries, self-esteem, our relationships, etc. because we relate to people out of our shame and recognition of lack - not out of fullness. Therefore, we need healing more than we need steps and advice. We need to understand God’s view of us, that is

  • He loves us unconditionally - Zeph 3:17
    The Lord your God is with you; He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you; He will comfort you with his love; He will rejoice over you with singing.
  • He does not condemn those who are in Christ - Rom 8:1
    Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are Christ Jesus. We are forgiven and there is no need to explain who we are or what we have done. This is an incredible truth.
  • He protects us and covers us – Psalm 36:7
    How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings.
  • He searches and know us - Dan 2:22
    He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him”. He is not afraid our darkness and fears and shame.
  • He offers us:
    • Pardon - Forgiveness for what we have done and who we are
    • Acceptance - Reunited with him despite our past
    • Power - Spiritual energy to shed the heaviness of shame and guilt
    • Gratitude - A sense of life and wonder at his generosity

We need to face our shame in the presence of Christ and allow him to heal. We cannot think shame away or act it away or feel it away. We honour God when we bring him our shame and guilt. Only then are we acknowledging his Lordship in our lives. Our role is to accept the influence and truth of God in us and to accept who we are. Accepting ourselves means:

  • Acknowledging our strengths and weaknesses
  • Forgiving ourselves for what we have done
  • Separating who we are from what we have done
  • Finding joy in who we are and what we do
  • Owning our “stuff”, the things we are made of, the gifts we have, the personalities we have
  • Taking pride in what God has done for us - out of gratitude to Him. What He has done for us affects who we are and how we express ourselves.

When we accept ourselves and keep God in His rightful place, then we will face our shame and know the healing we are truly longing for.

See also:

Shame: What is it?
Shame: Where does it come from?

If you are dealing with issues of shame and would like to speak with a counsellor, please contact us to schedule an appointment.