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It’s a Crying Shame

Much of our difficulty accepting this new life has to do with the shame we carry. Shame. It whispers and hisses that no matter what you do, you will always be defined by what you did or what was done to you.  –The Cure, by John Lynch, Bruce McNicol, and Bill Thrall.

Why are we so intent on beating ourselves up after sin or failure (no matter how seemingly small or great the infraction)? Why do we feel we need to earn our way back into God’s good graces? Or that there is an adequate time of mournful repentance so that we prove we’re serious?

It’s shame.

Shame acts as an inhibitor, like a dam holding back the flood of God’s love and life. It suppresses who you really are by convincing you that you never really changed. There is not enough to meet the demands of your sin or failures. It lies and says, “yeah, grace may work for other people, but you’re a lost cause.”

Feeling regretful or sorry for the wrong you’ve done is good. The Holy Spirit works to bring conviction to our hearts so you can remain free and not limited. But wallowing, for days or months or even years, allows shame to dictate the schedule and drives us to work off our transgressions.

Can I be honest? I think that sounds totally fair.

I messed up. I have no problem thinking I need to make it right. That’s what a good person does, right? It’s what I tell my kids to do in many instances! It sounds noble to listen to shame and follow its advice. Sometimes it feels mandatory, but it’s not.

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. –John 10:27-28

sheepWhen I decide to believe and listen to shame over Christ, I am following an idol. You must hear His voice and follow Him to receive what He desires to give–life. Is that eternal life as in heaven? Yes, but it’s right now as well.

Shame wants us constantly trying to prove we’re not as bad as we imagine. –The Cure, by John Lynch, Bruce McNicol, and Bill Thrall.

I have been there. Trying desperately to prove that I’m not that bad, that I can make it right. You know what I lose in the process? I lose my life. Shame’s voice and taunts colors everything I do or try to do.

I don’t see others as those whom God loves, but as projects to earn me points. I don’t see giving financially as an offering of love and trust, but as obligation to keep God on “my side.” On and on. It’s a mess and it will not stop until you surrender to the voice of Jesus–the voice of grace.

God offers that your act of repentance is what He requires, that broken and contrite heart (Psalm 57:17). You can’t try to fix it, to undo the damage. You trust His forgiveness and restoration through the blood of Jesus and say, “this is enough.”

You know what’s crazy though? What shame can’t do to fix things, God can restore. Sometimes He leads you to take steps in that process. Other times it’s all on His own. Either way, you’re still following His voice and it’s a beautiful pasture He’s leading you toward.

What about you? Do you now or have you had shame issues? What has it produced in your life?

cure2Welcome to week 2 of Chapter 3 discussion of The Cure (disclosure) by John Lynch, Bruce McNicol, and Bill Thrall. We are taking a sentence, paragraph, or passage that inspires, encourages, or challenges and writing about it. Once again, we’ll be taking 2 weeks per chapter as these are dense and thought-provoking words. If you have a response on your blog, add the link to the widget below. Either way, head over to my friend and co-facilitator, Sarah Salter’s blog for her thoughts.

Whether you’ve read the chapter or not, please dive into the conversation!

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  1. I think we get caught in the “shame trap” because it is so recent, frequent (or seems to be) and so dominant. Not saying it is right, obviously, but it is real. For “law people” shame is even more prevalent because “I failed once again.” I prefer grace which says, “I failed but grace finds me.”
    Bill (cycelguy) recently posted..PreachingMy Profile

    • It’s so subtle! We can move so seamlessly from grace to works in an effort to “do better.” We want the sin gone. We don’t want to fail anymore, but without allowing grace to have its full work in us, we will never be free. And I’m with you, it is very real and so loud in our ears, but grace is so much better. Thank you, Bill.

  2. We were of like mind today Jason!

    I pray that God’s children can recognize the damaging nature of selfish shame and accept His grace which cleanses our consciences.

    • Awesome, Dusty! Look forward to reading yours. And amen to that prayer--in Jesus’ name!

  3. It’s interesting, as I find freedom from one form of bondage, satan brings to mind something new.
    As I learn to trust God more, satan reminds me of past mistakes.
    As I learn to worship through the pain, satan brings a new temptation into my life.

    As Christ is never finished with us, neither is satan. Daily there is Spiritual Warfare, daily we must die to self and follow Christ.

    Satan will always be here to distract us, rob us of joy, distort God’s grace, etc. Thankfully we have 2 Tim 1:12 as a guide. We can trust that God will take us home and only then can satan not get to us.

    In this world we will have tribulation but God has overcome!
    Shame is defeated. But it will rear it’s ugly head time and again. But God’s grace is bigger.
    Learning to trust His grace is wonderful but no one is an “expert”. As long as we are here, satan will come to “kill, steal, and destroy”.

    • True. Satan does his worst but it is never a match for God’s best. We simply have to hold onto His hand and listen to His voice. What a great privilege He calls us into! Thanks TC.

  4. Oh, I’ve had my plenteous share of shame issues over the years; it began in childhood when my mother, though her intentions were good, would always, always, bring up past transgressions. I could never do or be enough to make it up to her. If the Lord had not entered my life, letting me know that I should be motivated to act and be as a beloved child of God, I don’t know where the shaming/blaming/debilitating game would have left me. Praise God for saving us all!
    Thank you, Jason, and God bless!
    Martha Orlando recently posted..The Best Laid PlansMy Profile

    • Amazing how much we “get” from our parents isn’t it? No matter how hard we all try, we aren’t perfect (our parents or us as parents/authorities either), but just like you said, God steps into the fray and restores, heals, and delivers. Otherwise, where would we be? Don’t even want to think about it. Thanks so much, Martha.

  5. I don’t think there are too many of us that don’t carry some shame about things we’ve done. Regret is good, but the line into not forgiving us when our Father has is a very fine line.

    Great quotes and thought provoking post.

    • I believe that’s right, Floyd. His grace and forgiveness allows us to carry the regret of actions and its effect on others without the shame. It’s certainly nothing we can work up or make happen, it’s all Him. Thank you.

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