Shame. It’s the pit in your stomach when people make plans in front of you. It’s the racing heart as you walk into an event not knowing anyone. It’s the redness in your face when you open your computer to a low grade in a class, when you log into your bank account and see triple digits go down into double. It’s the clammy hands that reach for your phone to look busy in a crowded room. It’s the knot in your chest when someone says hi to everyone but you, when there’s not enough seats for you to sit down, when the group is already full. It’s the disgust when you look in the mirror, pinching at fat, sucking in and posing for a picture. It’s the emptiness you feel after giving in and going past a boundary. It’s the numbness as you go to bed with a saying or two stuck on repeat. These sayings are your song, they are the anthem you live by.
“How could someone love you?”
“Why would anyone want to be friends with you?”
“You’re dirty and impure.”
“You’re not strong.”
“You’re not funny.”
“You’re not worth it.”
“You’ll never amount to anything”
“You need to work harder.”
“You need to be a better friend or they’ll leave you.”
“You need to be a better Christian, God is disappointed in you.”
“You need to look better or they’ll leave you.”
Shame is both physical and mental. When we experience shame, there is always a bodily reaction and subconscious belief that occurs. Let’s say I trip while I’m walking and a few people see and start laughing. Once I picked myself up and start walking again, whether I’ve realized it or not, my face is red and subconsciously I might believe that I look stupid or that I’m not strong.
There have been times when I’ve tripped, but even more times when someone says a name and memories rush in. A knot twists in my chest and I feel like I’m 16 again.
“How could anyone be friends with someone as selfish as you?”
“You’re the most sinful Christian I know.”
“You’re just a body to use.”
“You’re depressing, cheer up.”
“No one would ever want to be with you, run faster.”
Lies like these flood my mind. In an instant, I feel helpless, ugly, alone, and shame.
But let me tell you a secret. It is impossible to feel shame in God’s presence.
Read that again. Say it out loud. Stand up and shout it from the rooftops.
IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO FEEL SHAME IN GOD’S PRESENCE.
Psalm 34:5 says “Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.” When we sit in our shame and let lies play on repeat, we begin to believe what those lies say. Shame names us. It names us ugly, unimportant, unworthy, unintelligent, unequipped. But when we look to God, He calls us by our name. Beloved, lovely, child of God, chosen, priceless, justified, pure, holy, restored, free, heir, renewed, blameless, forgiven, predestined, alive, confident, bold, a light, hidden.
Understand this truth with me. James 1:17 says “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” If God is only good, then anything that is evil, confusing, full of pressure, harmful and chaotic is not of God. Shame is not from God. So whenever I feel shame, whether I am stuck believing a lie or feel “off,” I seek His face through prayer, the word, or worship. I run to the cross and literally chuck shame at the foot where Jesus died for it 2000 years ago.
1 John 4:18 says “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” When we turn to God with arms open and our face to the ground, asking for Him to perfect His love in us, He lifts our head and pulls us into His arms. In His presence we don’t have to work harder or be better. In His presence we purely rest in His love.
It is as simple as that.
Sometimes we make it more difficult than it is. We plan and fix and work and chase, reading every five step guide and watching every life hack video we can to find. And yet the validation and affirmation we are grasping for like water in a desert is instant and abundant in our Father.
Stop going and sit. Change the posture of your heart (especially if you’re walking and can’t stop moving) to surrender. Start with “Dear God,” and continue with the lie you’ve been believing. Ask Him to take it. Ask Him to help you believe His promises and goodness. Ask Him to give you the faith to believe what He says about you is true.
And then sit some more. Not saying anything. Breathe deeply. He once stood so close to you to breathe life into your nostrils. Listen to your heartbeat. The blood that raised Jesus from the dead flows through your veins. You are loved. You are worthy. You are strong in Christ Jesus.