When I was in high school I dated a boy that knew how to shame. His words stung and clawed into my vulnerable self.
“She’s so pretty. Why don’t you look like her?” – Never mind that ‘she’ was tall, blonde and I was barely over 5 feet, with deep brown hair. I soaked up these words and compared myself with her on a daily basis. I never was the right fit for him, but I was too blinded by shame to see otherwise.
I don’t remember feeling insecure in my body before then. I had no reason to. But then, sometimes shame creeps up when we are most unaware. The comparison game still catches me off guard and its only motive is to shame.
Maybe you’ve heard some of theses voices:
- She’s so crafty and creative with her kids, I’m a horrible mom.
- How can she look so great after having kids?
- At least I cook family meals…
- It must be nice to have all that extra time to stay home.
- Look at that car/house, it must be nice to have two incomes
It’s all a vortex of shame. We compare to feel less than or to feel greater than. Pick your poison. For me, I usually come up less than, it’s my default. I wouldn’t recommend it.
Brené Brown defines shame as:
a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.
Shame is like a heavy cloak that suffocates. It is something we assume, take upon ourselves or is placed upon us. Shame’s voice is accusatory, toxic and demeaning. The path of shame leads to death. We become entangled in its lies and are bound and enslaved by them.
Shame is different from guilt. Shame is debilitating and destructive. Guilt is productive, it turns us toward repentance. It’s the record of a wrong action taken, one we are responsible for and consequently convicted by. Conviction speaks correction and leads to freedom.
Sometimes the only way out of shame is to lie to ourselves with the truth. Shame can be so dark and suffocating we come to believe it’s darkness and pain are true. Shame doesn’t let go willingly.
Name your shame. What is it that keeps you tangled in shame? Bring it into the light, that’s the first step.
Then, remind yourself who you are. Remember Day 2?
You are a child of God. (1 John 3:1)
Your body is His temple, your soul a unique, personally designed palace for you and God to live. (1 Corinthians 6:19)
You are loved immeasurably by a wild and gracious God. (John 3:16)
God is your warrior and protector, He fights for you. (Zephaniah 3:17, Exodus 14:14)
He longs to bring you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
Another great story about shame appeared recently on A Holy Experience.