Tommy had a bad case of diarrhea all night long. But his mother made him go to school anyway. She did not send a note to his teacher about his condition. When Tommy needed to go to the bathroom, his teacher denied permission.
When Tommy soiled himself, his classmates scorned and ridiculed him. And his teacher shifted the blame from herself: “Tommy, why didn’t you tell me you had to go to the bathroom?”
Tommy was too ashamed to defend himself.
After that, Tommy isolated himself from others. He avoided risk like the plague. He became very introverted, shy and self-conscious.
It scarred him for life because nobody ever told him the truth about how Jesus had taken away his shame.
At some point in our life, something happened to shatter our windshield through which we see God, others, ourselves and life in general. This distorted view of God – a faulty belief system – causes us to not trust God and to trust in ourselves.
Since this world prizes performance, and because we constantly fail to meet its standards, we feel ashamed. Most of us spend our lives, much like Adam and Eve, trying to cover our shame.
We can’t enjoy the life Jesus has given us because we are too busy trying to hide our flaws so we can get our needs met from sources other than God. Shame comes when the important people in our lives curse our identity.
This brings on a fear of abandonment — of being all alone, and of not being taken care of. Shame comes whenever you have been held accountable and made to feel wrong for things beyond your control.
We come out of the womb believing our parents are right all the time. When a child looks into the face of a parent, he sees a reflection of who he/she is. For instance, if a parent becomes angry with a child, the child will think something is wrong with him because his mom/dad is mad at him. He believes that something must be wrong with him/her because parents are always right.
Shame is a primary obstacle to our relationship with God. Guilt is different from shame. Guilt says that I did something wrong. Shame says I am wrong. Shame leads to hopelessness.
Shame is a deep feeling of contamination, uncleanness and yuckiness.
Shame causes you to feel like you don’t belong; like you’re not supposed to be here. It is a feeling that you have to work twice as hard to get as much accomplished. Shame makes you feel like a caterpillar in a butterfly world. Shame comes as a result of having our identity cursed.
John Bradshaw lists seven family rules that impute shame:
1. Always remain in control of all behavior, feelings and circumstances.
2. Always be right and do it right. Never make a mistake. Perfectionism rules the family and there is no room for a learning process. Nothing can be tainted, spoiled, flawed or outside the plan.
3. When rules No. 1 and No. 2 fail, and things do get out of control, then get angry and blame someone — others, God or yourself. Children are held responsible for the parents’ anger.
4. Deny everyone in the family five basic human experiences. It is wrong to:
• Feel. It is wrong to feel sad, lonely, fearful, etc.
• Perceive. What parents say is right... period!
• Need. Always be self-sufficient. Don’t bother anyone with your need.
• Believe. Parents tell you the truth. You can’t trust what others tell you. You have no right to have your own belief or opinion.
• Imagine. You have no right to imagine anything. A lifestyle of denial of every wrong experience deep inside is established.
5. Always maintain secrecy regarding anything wrong.
6. Never acknowledge a mistake or make yourself vulnerable to anyone.
7. Don’t trust anyone. Relationships are erratic and unreliable.
Shame is a feeling of unworthiness, valuelessness, unacceptability, and illegitimacy. But God created us to be filled with a sense of His glory. Glory is a feeling of dignity, worth, value, acceptability, and legitimacy.
When our identity is blessed, glory is imparted to us. Satan’s goal is to curse our identity with shame.
Shame is the fear of abandonment. It is the fear that nobody cares and nobody is going to take care of you. It is the feeling that you are all alone. Jesus understands our fear and how it feels to be totally alone.
When He hung on the cross and became sin for us, that sin separated Him from His father. He cried out, “My God! My God! Why have You forsaken Me?”
That is why He came here. He came to love us to life. He came to make sure we never felt alone again.
The apostle Paul understood and wrote the following to the Romans and for us today:
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow — not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below — indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 NLT).
Jesus has taken away our shame. Shame on anyone who tries to tell you differently.
Kenny Ashley is the leader of The Journey, which meets at 10:30 a.m. Sundays at Crowders Creek Elementary School.