When you’re burdened with shame and what to do about it
Have you ever met someone who you just knew was stuck in bondage? Maybe they don’t talk about it all the time but you just know they are wounded and still carry that burden with them like an ole’ ball and chain.
If you read the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3 you’ll read how three faithful men would rather be thrown into a fire than worship man. My favorite part of this story is verses 26 & 27 – as these three returned from the fire they were unharmed and didn’t smell of smoke.
Man, let me tell you – I used to be that person. The idea of Salvation was wonderful and I believed, but I did NOT believe God could redeem my past. I walked around for far too long identified by either past mistakes, regrets or false identities others labeled me as (or I labeled myself as).
The shame that accompanies those false identities is mighty deep, isn’t it?
A few years ago I realized the first time shame made an appearance in the world was right after Adam & Eve ate the forbidden fruit. Meaning, the first emotions to enter this world after sin was FEAR & SHAME.
Based on my experience so far, I really believe that shame is one of, if not the most, deeply rooted emotion in the human soul. It’s not uncommon to meet someone who structures their life, decisions, and beliefs based on this deep, deep shame.
What do we know to be true about shame?
1) It comes from the enemy
2) It’s a lie. Period.
I know, I know – but it FEELS true. Well, let me tell you what – our feelings are liars and cannot be trusted. Philippians 3:9 says that our righteousness comes from God on the basis of faith. That means upon salvation you were made righteous. Period. End of story. All the mistakes you’ve made are no longer part of your identity because you are now righteous in God’s sight.
So what do we do about it?
In everything we do, we’re operating out of a belief system. What we believe about God, ourselves, others and the world.
We have two options in this life – to live in the flesh or walk in the Spirit. When I mentioned above the shame I experienced for so long, well, that was me walking in the flesh. At the time I didn’t realize I had the option to CHOOSE to walk in truth. When those feelings creep up, which they undoubtedly will, I can choose to own that lie and let it define me OR I can choose to believe what God say’s about me as truth.
This takes time and practice though. To tell yourself God’s truth about yourself occasionally isn’t going to do the trick.
The lies we believe and the shame we feel literally form pathways in our brain. It’s as if you’re walking in a field of tall grass; The more you walk on the same path the more distinct the pathway becomes. Well, the lies we believe do the same thing in our brain. The pathways become so well worn they become our automatic response.
The more you walk on the new grass, the more distinct that path becomes over time. Meaning, when we start to uproot these lies and focus on the truth we have to create a new “walkway.”
To truly walk in freedom you have to be willing and able to identify the lies. You can’t walk in freedom if you don’t know what’s keeping you in bondage. So take some time to identify your belief system. And remember, our behavior always leads back to what we really believe.
Then, take some time and find the corresponding truth to the lies you’re believing. Once you’ve discovered what the truth really is, start practicing your new walkway by telling yourself the truth statement at least 7 times a day. This will help you to quickly establish the new path!