I thought it was just me, but it isn’t.
Shame. A silent epidemic. No one wants to acknowledge it. No one wants to speak of it. I get it. But the reality is we’ve all experienced it. Whether we want to admit it or not. Shame is a hard topic to discuss. But if we keep ignoring it in ourselves or others, we’ll never be able to walk confidently in who God has uniquely created us to be.
As I’ve been reading research on shame and shame resilience from Dr. Brene Brown, I can look back over my life and see how it’s reared it’s ugly head in my life. Many times. To be honest, I wasn’t even aware of the times I experienced shame until I started learning how it works and manifests in our lives.
For example, there were SO many times in my personal and professional life that I didn’t think I was competent enough, gifted enough, pretty enough, black enough, qualified enough, talented enough and yup—even spiritual enough. And these thoughts caused me to feel shame about some aspect of my self.
MY SHAME-FULL EXPERIENCES
- As a parent, I can remember a close friend of mine publicly criticizing my parenting in a room full of people. This betrayal caused me to feel shame because I thought everyone would perceive me as a “bad, harsh or unloving” mother.
- As a “bi-racial girl”, I can remember feeling shame around being perceived as not ‘black enough’ because neighborhood kids said I talked “white”. Being labeled as a “half-breed, yellow girl, and zebra” also didn’t help.
- As a woman with larger than average feet (I wear a size 11), I can remember feeling shame about my body/appearance because the boys in my hood would call me “bigfoot.” No girl wants to be perceived as unattractive right?
- As a young mom who had to use government assistance such as WIC to meet the nutritional needs of my young child, I can remember feeling shame at the grocery store—ripping out my WIC vouchers to purchase food and milk. No one wants to be perceived as “those people” right?
- As a 22-year-old nursing mom, I can remember feeling shame when I nursed my daughter in public. The stares and remarks such as “that’s nasty or “go do that somewhere else’ almost made me stop giving my child THE HEALTHIEST milk she could ever have. No mom should be shamed for feeding her child human milk right?
- As a kid growing up the 80’s and 90’s, I felt shame around where I lived because I lived in a housing project. I felt shame being on “welfare” as a kid because I would see how sales clerks would look at my mom when she pulled out her book of food stamps at the grocery store. No one wants to be looked down upon because of their socio-economic status right? That doesn’t define who they are as people right?
Honestly, I can go on and on about many more experiences that have caused me to feel shame about some aspect of my body/appearance, parenting, marriage, faith, family or money (like the time my car was repossessed or when my utilities were cut off). But you see.
Shame wants you to think “I’m all alone”. It wants you think “I’m the only one”. And it wants you to think and believe “There’s something wrong with me.”
Social and Cultural Expectations
Shame wants us to live according to the expectations of others. It wants us to believe we can control how others perceive us so we over-function, over-perform, over-promise, over-commit, over-work, over-exaggerate and yes even over-post on social media —about how perfect or good we are, our children are, our marriages are, are jobs are, etc. (you get the point).
Maybe we do this to paint a positive picture of how we want others to perceive us because we somehow believe it’ll help us receive the love, acceptance, approval, and belonging we so desperately want and need. And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be loved and accepted. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to belong.
But the problem in this is when we look to people instead of God to get these needs and desires met. And one of the best things about getting these needs met in God is that we don’t have to do ANYTHING to receive His unconditional love and acceptance. God’s love can’t be earned or lost. There is absolutely nothing we can do to stop, block or lose God’s love for us.
Resting in our God-Acceptance
When we can finally rest in being loved, approved and accepted by God, we will free ourselves from our attempts to control how others perceive us. When we are convinced our value, worth, goodness, desirability, beauty, delight, wonder, greatness and acceptance in God—AND—when we are convinced that we are enough—whole and complete in Him—we will no longer feel the need to present ourselves as ‘perfect’ to the world.
When we are fully convinced we are enough in Christ, we will stop performing and people-pleasing. And we will stop insulating ourselves and hiding our truest selves from others because we know who we are and whose we are.
When we can look in the mirror and say with great confidence, “I love and accept every part of who I am, flaws, imperfections, weaknesses, insecurities, scars and all”, then we will stop shutting down in fear, shrinking back in silence, shaming those who hurt us and staying silent about what we need to grow, heal, recover, evolve and thrive.
You are MORE than ENOUGH
Shame wants to distort how you see and perceive yourself. It’s after your self-image because you were created in the image of God. See yourself how God sees you. His wonderful and remarkable, one of a kind, invaluable masterpiece.
Don’t let the enemy keep you stuck in feelings of shame because you believe you’re not _________ enough. Don’t allow the enemy to steal your joy, peace, purpose, passion, potential, hope and power any longer. Don’t permit him to silence your voice or cause you to doubt and bury your gifts and greatness.
The one who has been stealing from you must steal no more! It’s time for you to be strong and courageous in God’s mighty power. It’s time to take back your joy, your peace, your divine power, and your God-given purpose in Jesus name. The one who took all your shame with him on the cross. Know that in Christ, you are MORE THAN ENOUGH.
Like to learn more on this topic? Check these out!
BLOG POST: SHAME OFF YOU WITH REFLECTION QUESTIONS
PODCAST: Becoming Shame Resilient: Conversation with clinical psychologist, Dr. Tracy Dickens