Every session of the Single Life Workshop gets better and better. Session four was all about shame. Shame is not a fun, feel-good topic. But it is one of those topics that, if left unaddressed, can devastate a relationship.
Shame makes intimacy scary. Can I get an “amen”?
Shame builds walls and creates false narratives in our minds. Shame often convinces us that God and others couldn’t possibly love us if they knew the “real” us — if they knew all our past sins. That couldn’t be further from the truth, but it’s the lie we believe so much of the time. And the enemy loves it when we do; he can then keep us isolated, hopeless, and full of despair.
I love the story of the Samaritan woman. After Jesus lovingly calls out her sin, He leads her to forgiveness and grace. She then runs into town and says to everyone, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” She looked into the face of Christ and felt love like she had never known before. She didn’t feel condemnation or judgment, shame or fear. She felt understood and forgiven.
God is the same with us today. He views us with nothing short of love and acceptance. We cannot earn God’s love; He loves us for who we are.
Shame tries to keep us from being ourselves. When we are caught up in shame, we act out of who we think we are in our sin. We act unworthy, unlovable and hopeless. We don’t tap into any of our gifts or potential.
Trust what God has put inside of you. We were made in the very image of the triune God. We were created to be living testimonies of His kindness, rescue, salvation, love and redemption.
Shame’s biggest asset is concealment. I don’t have a green thumb, but I know that some plants grow in the dark; they actually thrive there. That’s what sin does. It grows and grows in the darkness of hiding places. When the light of God’s truth does not shine on our sin and shame, it manifests in our relationships. It causes rifts and confusion and division. That is the way of the enemy.
Repentance and confession put an end to the devil’s schemes. They open up a path for God to move and create healthy, life-giving relationships.
God’s goal is not to make us perfect; it’s for us to see Him.
God has never been about sin management. He is not about dos and don’ts. He is not about controlling us or manipulating us to not sin. He is after our hearts. He wants us to have hearts like His. Hearts that resemble His have desires for the things of the Spirit. When I am finding pleasure and satisfaction and purpose in Christ and who He has called me to be, then I have less of a desire for sin or worldly pleasures.
God won’t (yet, anyway) eliminate the world’s brokenness; He wants to purify us through it.
It would be nice if God just banished sin and we didn’t know any different, but that is not the case. Sin is here. Shame is here. Guilt is here. We live in this fallen, broken world. But we don’t have to live according to the world. We can choose to live according to God and His standards.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8
When we are focused on God and are developing the mind of Christ, there is little room for sin or shame to control us. The Holy Spirit is an all-consuming fire in our lives. He intentionally burns away all that does not honor or glorify God in us. It’s a beautiful thing to know we are living lives that please God.
God is not about perfection, but He is about holiness. Regardless of past sins, God is not about shaming us. He is about forgiveness and restoration and endless second chances. Learning to model this in relationships would completely change how we enter them and how we navigate them. We love. We don’t hold the past against others. We forgive. We allow for restoration.
Do you struggle with shame in relationships over your past? How is God helping you overcome this shame?