What do you do when you make a mistake? What do you do with the wrong actions of a loved one? You know what happened was wrong. It is done. You can’t undo it.
We are not perfect. Mistakes happen. Its ok. When addiction or abuse invade your life – they seem to become a part of our lives way too often. What do we do with the shame that we experience when we have been hurt? What is shame? What is guilt? Should we feel ashamed?
Let’s break this down a bit.
Guilt says “I did something bad.” or “My loved one did something bad.”
Shame says “I am bad because of it.” or “I am a failure because my son did that.”
Guilt is a healthy response to mistakes. It allows us learn and repent for wrong choices. Shame creates a bond between the action and the person. It becomes part of who we are. When we are embarrassed or hurt and respond with shame, the choices we make can hinder recovery or block our personal growth. We try to distance ourselves and prevent others from knowing our shame. We hide. Shame acts as the umbrella that covers our coping mechanisms and survival tactics for life.
Everyone deals with shame in one way or another. No one wants to talk about it. When we keep the silence, shame gains strength. The three things that empower shame are secrecy, silence, and judgement. How do we make it go away?
- Bring shame into the light. Break the silence. Find someone safe you can talk to about your experiences. Shame is a product of our faulty perceptions about ourselves.
- Untangle what you are feeling. What is the truth? I rely on the Word of God to discern what is true and what is not.
- Unhitch what you do from who you are. You were created by a good God. He does not make mistakes. He knows who you are and loves you intimately – even when you make mistakes.
- Recognize your triggers. When you can identify the things that trigger old memories, you will find it easier to move past them.
The enemy will try to use shame to make us think the shackles Jesus broke still carry weight. (Borrowed,Devon Radford)
5. Make connections. The opposite of addiction is connection. Positive connections will help you move forward! Don’t be afraid to reach out! (PsychologyToday.com)
There is no reason to hide anymore. The longer you hide, the more you empower shame.
Psalm 139 gives us a beautiful example of God’s heart for us. He knows all about me – every single detail, even the bad ones. He sees me just as I am – and loves me perfectly anyway. There is no reason to try to hide, because I cannot get out of His sight.
It’s impossible to disappear from You or to ask the darkness to hide me, for Your presence is everywhere, bringing light into my night. (v. 11)
God counter acts the three elements of shame – secrecy, silence and judgement. He shines light into the dark and sees us – there are no secrets with Him! He asks us to speak, sing, break the silence as we share His love with the world. He empowers us to do that! He forgives us no matter what the action – He paid the ultimate price for our sin – all we have to do is ask! He is the judge of creation, not us. We need to get off the throne and stop judging ourselves!
God, I invite Your searching gaze into my heart. Examine me through and through; find out everything that may be hidden within me. (v. 23)
I don’t care what you have done. I have done things that would make you cry. He already knows. We can’t let shame rule our lives any longer. It is not who we are. We are sons and daughter of the Most High God!
Come out of hiding, break the silence, release the self-judgement – reach out!