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Healing Line

Healing Line

Shame

by Judith MacNutt
2018 Vol. 02

Webster defines shame as “a disturbed or painful feeling of guilt, incompetence, indecency, regret, or embarrassment. A painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt. A condition of humiliating disgrace.”There is true shame and there is also false shame.

Shame that is based on confessed personal sin is forgiven. If you have confessed your sin, you have been forgiven, and you should be free of shame.
1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

True shame comes when we make a mistake and we feel guilty.

False shame says, “I am a mistake.”

If I have sinned against someone and have committed a sin, I feel guilty. Guilt is not bad — it is an appropriate response when we have wounded someone or sinned against them. Guilt’s voice whispers, “I have made a mistake. I can be forgiven.”

False shame is a tool of the enemy — the lie we accept when we are caught in the fear of being found out, exposed, rejected, abandoned, or deemed unworthy. Abandonment is the deepest wound we carry. When we are abandoned, in essence the message is: You have no value, you are meaningless to me.

A friend of mine was sitting with her husband. She looked at him (I will call him John) and said, “John, you look unhappy tonight. What can I do to make you happy?” What she meant was something along the lines of, “Can I get you something to drink, or a pizza?” He said, “You can give me a divorce.” There was no warning. I have watched friends struggle for years to climb out of that pit of abandonment that comes with divorce.

The sin of shame entered the world in the Garden of Eden. Poor Eve is assigned all the blame for this; but you know they both ate the apple! This is where blame started. “The man said, ‘The woman you put here with me — she have me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’” (Genesis 3) Then Eve said (my paraphrase), “The snake made me do it!”

Adam and Eve tried to cover their own shame. God still came in the cool of the evening, but they were hiding in the bushes, trying to cover up. God knew. He came and called them by name, not because He couldn’t find them, but to bring them out of hiding. God calls us out of shame and back into relationship with Him.

Abandonment is not the only source of shame. Shame may come through the family, trauma, society, and even the church.

In home environments shame is a normal experience. It can feel normal because people are often shamed every day. “Why can’t you be like your sister?” “Why can’t you be better?” “Why can’t you be prettier?” “Why can’t you be smarter?” “Why do you have to say such stupid things?” “Shame on you!” These words can create what I call “the shame of being.” As children, we can’t change ourselves, so we feel shame in existing.

Another source of shame comes from trauma; it could be verbal, physical, or emotional trauma, or sexual abuse. You may experience shame through the avenue of society: ethnic shame, class shame, or the shame of poverty. Another place we experience shame is in the church, including what I call gender shame.

How do all these avenues of shame affect us? Self–rejection, self–hatred, a victim mentality, excessive anger, or depression can enter. We may have identity issues. “I don’t know who I am, and I don’t know my value. I don’t know God’s love for me.”

When we are truly loved by other people, the shame begins to erode and be healed in our lives. This is the work of the Holy Spirit; God comes to us and shows us unconditional love. He transforms us and shows us our worth in Him. He will show you the truth that you are a very valuable part of the body of Christ.


Judith MacNutt Judith MacNutt is author, teacher, conference speaker and co–founder of CHM. 2018 Vol. 02