One of my greatest purposes in God is courage: to have courage to be myself, but moreso, to give courage to others to truly be themselves. Shame is the ultimate enemy of my purpose, because shame talks badly about one’s core self. As you can imagine, then, shame has been one of my biggest enemies.
I’m glad to say that I’ve conquered a lot of my adolescent shame through the emotional and spiritual healing available in the blood of Jesus. I embarrassed myself thousands of times before I fully got that freedom, …
But now even my embarrassments no longer embarrass me! That’s true value in who I am. However, I have noticed that seeing shame arise in other people still pricks me a little. It reminds me of myself. It almost tempts me to be ashamed of the times I had shame—how ironic? I am glad for it though, because as my Bishop Dr. Bill Hamon says, I should pay my enemies (even shame), because they help me fulfill my ultimately destiny—to become like Jesus! (Romans 8:29)
Remember my story about being 16 in Roach Motel? I recently was part of a discussion where I saw similar feelings of shame manifest in other people. This discussion provoked me in a way I haven’t felt for a while. It provoked me to look again into my heart and weed out any shame. Lately God has been encouraging me to go deeper in this area. I know He is working with me because lately I’ve been remembering embarrassing situations I’ve been in and feeling embarrassed all over again. You might say that’s the devil causing me to feel embarrassed, but even if it is, I will gladly pay him, because he’s serving to help me crucify the flesh and become more like Jesus!
In my recent discussion, I remembered an early college roommate I had whose upbringing was similar to mine, though we were different in most other ways. One thing she had that I was familiar with was shame (ashamed of being white, of being home schooled, of being middle class, of being sheltered, of being herself). She strove constantly to prove she wasn’t who she was ashamed of being the same way I had—by going to the farthest and most destructive extreme possible.
If you lived in a high-crime community, would you lock your apartment door while you’re home? I would. What if you thought that only sheltered people lock their front door while they’re home; and then what if you thought begrudgingly that you had been sheltered; and then what if you thought that being sheltered was wrong; and then what if you wanted to prove that nothing was wrong with you? Though my roommate may not have been aware of this thought process, I watched her follow it through, consequently refusing to lock our front door… even after un-sober men had wandered into our house on more than one occasions! Real courage was not what provoked my roommate to keep putting us in this vulnerable situation–it was in fact the opposite of courage.. fear! Fear of people knowing that a sheltered girl might be afraid something bad could happen to her in “the real world.”
What stirs me the most about this behavior is not the self discursiveness it promotes–though that is a danger of its own—but rather the success of the enemy to call evil what God calls good, to tarnish our identities, to destroy us. Shame keeps us from being ourselves, and being ourselves (our God-given identity) is our ultimate purpose. It is who we are that God created. It is who we are that He brought into the earth with a specific facet of His DNA, to leave his imprint on humanity and the earth in a way no other human being can. Each person is uniquely and permanently gifted with irrevocable and unending potential in God.
Familiarly opposite of shame, “courage” is being who you really are. Since courage is my purpose, shame is my enemy. But since every human being is made in the image of God and called with a purpose, shame is your enemy too!
You might not know what shame is, but you know what embarrassment is. If there is a memory, a person, a situation that makes you repeatedly embarrassed, that’s shame. If you wish you could go back and change yourself in a situation, that’s shame. If you have been forgiven of your sins through accepting Jesus as your savior, but still look at them with the pain of regret, that’s shame.
The answer to shame is courage. Shame says, “what if they find out who I really am and they don’t like me?” Courage then would vulnerably and boldly be yourself.