For so many years I really thought that the guilt and shame I felt would never go away. For me, it was so obvious that it was there, that I would tell each new person I met about all these horrible things in my life because I felt for sure that they could see it all over me.
I figured since it was so obvious that it was there, then maybe if I told them they might still choose to like me because they heard it from me first.
I know, it sounds crazy doesn’t it? But when you are burdened down with shame you see life through a very strange pair of glasses that makes you act in ways that you never thought possible.
What is shame?
For me before I can know how to conquer something I need to understand what it is first.
One of the best resources I use for finding out the meaning of words is Webster’s Dictionary. Webster was a Christian and God had used him to bring life to words in a way that honoured God. There have been many times I have been ministered to just by reading what some words mean. So when I looked up shame here is what I found…
“A painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute.”
Those are very powerful words that brought back many emotional memories as I read them.
Looking back now I realize just how much pain I was in from the shame I felt about myself. I felt guilty, I knew that I had many shortcomings, and disgrace was a regular event in my life, caused by people I trusted but shouldn’t have.
The shame I felt was a very real factor in my life and it affected every decision I made and caused me to do some really stupid things, which made me feel more shame.
Does it only happen to unbelievers?
Now you may be thinking to yourself, only unbelievers feel shame, and that when I became a Christian it instantly went away. I wish I could tell you it was the truth, but I was saved for several years before I really began to deal with it, and even then it was a process of emotional healing that took several years of my life.
Just because you are saved doesn’t mean that you have figured everything out.
Here is the thing I love about Jesus: He knows you so intimately that He knows the perfect timing to deal with things in your life. He knows when you are ready and His patience has no ends. He is not in a rush and He guides you one small step at a time.
Every time you make it through another step, He cheers you on to take the next one.
The steps to letting go of shame
I once prayed for patience and God answered my prayer almost immediately by continually testing my patience to make it stronger; I have never prayed that prayer again.
The reason I mention patience is that you are going to need it. This is a process that takes time and effort. You will make mistakes as you learn and grow. The main thing is to keep on learning and growing. Don’t give up.
So the steps to letting go of shame are…
1. Know that Jesus paid the price for it already
Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”
When Jesus went to the cross, one of the things He paid for is shame. He paid the price for everything that you have done and everything that was done to you that causes your shame.
He took it all on Himself so that you no longer have to carry it. Which leads to step number 2.
2. It is not something God wants you to have
Many times as Christians we feel like we have to carry this shame, to somehow prove to God that we are sorry for the things that happened. That is a lie that will keep you wounded and in pain the rest of your life.
God does not want you to be ashamed at all. He wants you to be free, whole, and emotionally healthy.
The price that Jesus paid on the cross is enough, which leads you to step 3.
3. You make the choice to let it go
If you are carrying around shame, it is because you choose to carry it around. I know that this is hard to hear and I am not trying to be mean. I know that you are in pain and I want you to be set free, but the only way you can do that is knowing the truth.
God cannot take your shame until you choose to let it go until you decide that you want Jesus more than you want your shame.
It might be one of the hardest things you do in your life because over time shame becomes part of your core being and it will fight to stay there. You may have to fight yourself, but I can promise you this, life can be amazing when you don’t have shame weighing you down. It is a choice that you will never forget.
Ask God to forgive you for anything that makes you feel shame that you have done. Once you have asked for forgiveness, accept the fact that you are forgiven. If God has forgiven you, you should also forgive yourself.
Once it is forgiven, it is also forgotten by God.
In Psalm 103:12 the Psalmist says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” It is gone, never to return. So when those thoughts try to creep into your head reminding you of what you have done, you don’t have to accept them back in. You can tell them to get lost and never come back.
You will also need forgive people who have done things to you that cause you to feel shame. As long as you have not forgiven them, those actions still have power over you to make you feel ashamed. That is one of the reasons why getting rid of shame is a process: you also have to go through the steps of forgiveness as well.
5. Choose to walk as if you are free
There are behaviours that you did because of the shame that you felt that have become a habit. Once you have chosen to let go of the shame, you also need to change your behaviours to match the new you.
Study what you do and why you are doing it. Look at each decision you make and ask yourself, “Is this a decision that a free person would make?” If you say no, then you need to change that decision.
Pray and ask God to show you how to live free from shame. When He tells you to do something, do it. Don’t walk in fear and when you mess up, quickly go to God, ask His forgiveness and move on with life.
What does walking free look like?
As I went through the process of letting go of shame I started to feel lighter, like a heavy weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I could look people in the eye and not wonder what they were thinking of me. My self-confidence grew and I took risks.
I started to actually believe that there was nothing impossible for God.
I can be happy now. I can enjoy things and not feel guilty. I am free and that is what I want for you too.
Let God come in and free you from the shame that eats at your soul and makes you feel unworthy of anything good in your life. You will be so happy that you did.
~ By Kim Thompson-Pinder