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5 Steps to Obliterate Shame

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“She never gives me {insert expletive}!”

Oh my God, did I just curse?  Wait.  What?

It felt like a cheat day on a diet, so wrong and so right all at the same time.  There I was, 9 years old, boiling in anger, and out comes sin.  I was being picked on at school and couldn’t take it anymore.  Justification quickly turned into remorse, because even at 9, I knew being a Christian meant sin was my enemy.  I knew it would be hard to fight off, but it was my job to stay close enough to Christ to not yield to temptation.  What I did not know was what to do if when I did.  Of course, I knew to repent, so I sincerely told God I’d never curse again; but how would I deal with the shame? 

Now don’t get it twisted, I boldly admit I’ve done worse things in my life than say a curse word at the age of 9, but the innocence of that moment is what I wanted to capture.  As a child, the only place I knew to put my shame was in a bottle of regret.  Once that bottle filled up, I’d get more bottles.  By the time I was a teenager, I had a shelf full.  The problem is, shame takes the truth of God and twists them into lies.  When God says “your sins are forgiven (Luke 7:48),” shame says “you’re such a disappointment.”  When God says “I do not condemn you, go and sin no more (John 8:11),” shame says “you know you’re going to do it again.”  When scripture says “nothing can separate you from God’s love (Romans 8:38),” shame says “not even God can love you after that!”  Shame stifles worship.   Shame encumbers prayers.  Shame is self-inflicted punishment, even after our sins have been forgiven.

So how do we rid ourselves of shame?  Well let’s look at David, the murderer.  David, the adulterer.  David, the man after God’s heart!  After the prophet Nathan chastised him for the sins he committed, David learned he was forgiven, but, due to his sin, his son, born out of adultery, would die.  This consequence could have sent David on a tailspin of shame, despair, and defeat, however, the crux of David’s journey, found in II Samuel 12:20, teaches us how to overcome, despite the sin or consequence.  This is where we find the 5 steps David took to regain right standing before God.

Let’s break the scripture down…

1. “So David arose from the ground…” – Stop the Self-pity

The bible tells us there is a time for everything (Eccles. 3), and yes that includes mourning.  So when we find ourselves engulfed in what God hates (sin), repentance and remorse is appropriate.  However, there also comes a time when lament is over; when we have to get up “from the ground.”

Philippians 2:13 reminds us it is not our will or self-discipline that enables us to do good, rather His will working through us.  This means even on our best day we don’t have room to boast, because our best is only God fulfilling His purpose in us.  In that same way, feeling down for too long reveals a dependence on self that is totally futile.  Shame can only survive when we fail to look to God, who is solely responsible for saving us and solely responsible for restoring us back to Himself. 

2. “…washed and anointed himself…” – Reject Sin

Rejecting sin is not simply confessing sin.  Rejecting sin is turning away from sin and actively pursuing the things of Christ.  Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet because he took on the heart of God and felt His sorrow concerning The Children of Israel.  Like Jeremiah, we must ask God to break our hearts for what breaks His.  When we truly understand the weight of sin, we become more determined to flee from it.  Shame can only survive if we deny the power that God grants us to reject sin, at any cost. 

3. “…and changed his clothes…” – Put on Christ

Romans 13:14 tells us to “put on Christ” and make no provision for our flesh to fulfill it’s lusts.  Simply put, we are to embrace the character of Christ.  We are to adopt the ways of Christ.  And when we fail, we are to be reminded that our past, present, and future sins have been forgiven on the cross.  Shame can only survive if we reject Christ, who died on the cross to present us faultless. 

4. “…and went into the house of the Lord…” – Surround yourself with Christ followers

The house of the Lord is a place to find a community of people who have at least one thing in common and that is their pursuit of God.  The danger of isolation is that it creates an environment where we become judge and jury.  It doesn’t allow our misconceptions and biases to be challenged by the wisdom of others.  This is why we are encouraged in Hebrews 10:25 to not forsake the assembling of believers.  Shame can only survive if we disregard the testimonies of others who have been forgiven and now stand with a clear conscience.

5.  “…and worshipped…” – Fall More in Love with God

In John 4, Jesus tells the woman at the well she does not know who she worships, but worshippers must worship in spirit (with passion) and in truth (with knowledge).  To combat shame we must passionately pursue God and seek to know Him.  As we grow in knowledge, we progressively see the contrast between His holiness and our transgression; His strength and our weakness; His wisdom and our folly.  And in those moments we realize that our righteousness is as filthy rags.  Shame can only survive if we withhold the honor due to a Holy God in relation to our frailty.  

David prayed for 7 days for God to spare his son’s life.  Once he found out his son was dead “he arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes, and went into the house of the Lord and worshipped.”  His servants didn’t know what to think, but David explained his hope was to see his son again in heaven.  David decided to rest in God’s forgiveness and to accept His judgement.  We, too, must learn to cast our cares upon Him and leave them there.  Leave anxiety.   Leave shame.  Along with everything else conquered by Christ, it can only survive if we let it.

– Sarah

#walkthetalk

10 comments

  1. Thank you for this, Sis. Sarah. I really needed to hear/read this. I’ve been struggling with guilt lately…I’ll be honest, its hard to shake, but reading these five steps put some things into perspective. Thank you for letting God use you.

    1. Victoria, thank you for reading the piece! Just remember there is nothing you’ve ever done that surprised the Lord, yet He still loves you more than you ever can comprehend. One of the ways to express gratitude for this love is to accept it. Embrace it, forgive yourself (as He already has), and walk in your redemption. David showed us how, now we have to follow suit. Otherwise we compromise the fullness of what God has in store for us. God Bless!

  2. This is a wonderful, inspiring, liberating and life-changing message for every Christian. I thank God for teaching me how to defeat self-inflicted shame, as well as, the shame that was inflicted upon me by self-righteous people. I also thank God for great teachers of His Holy Word that feed us good, healthy and wholesome spiritual food. You are such a one, Sister Sarah! God bless you with more…

    1. Oh I am honored that you even read my writing, let alone consider me a teacher. I appreciate you! God Bless!

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