As I mentioned in my previous post, our shame and self-image plays a significant factor in the unhealthy thoughts and actions we struggle with on a daily basis. Many of us don’t yet see ourselves as God sees us, because we’re stuck in seeing ourselves as the world, friends, and even the haters see us (#HatersGonnaHate). We struggle to love our neighbor as ourself because we don’t love ourself (Matthew 22:39). We struggle to accept God’s love for us because we view life through the filter of our shame.
Shame has been at the root of mankind’s struggle since day one, when sin entered the Garden of Eden. But Jesus can break the chains of shame.
It took a proactive daily choice, and praying for God’s healing, to overcome my “worthless sinner” shame mentality. Jesus brought healing and freedom through the five steps I list below. I encourage you to take them, too.
1. Understand What God Says About You
I began to study and understand what God says about me through Scripture.
I learned that I have inherent value and dignity (Genesis 1:27), that I am loved for who I am (Ephesians 2:4), that I am uniquely gifted (1 Peter 4:10), and that I am here for a purpose (Ephesians 2:10). That Christ defeated not just sin, but the effects of sin on the cross — including shame. Jesus gave me a new identity as a son of God when I began a personal relationship with Him (1 John 3:1) and received His forgiveness for my wrongs. These understandings developed the mindset I needed for this truth to begin to sink deep into my heart.
2. Surround Yourself With People Who Affirm the Truth of Who God Says You Are
I began to surround myself with people who affirmed my true value, who loved me for who I was, and who accepted and encouraged me.
These affirming experiences helped the truth of my value in God’s eyes to sink into my head and heart.
3. Stop Listening to Certain Voices
I stopped listening to the voices of those who perpetuated the “worthless sinner” mentality in my life — including certain bible teachers, authors, bloggers, and friends.
If you listen closely, you’ll start to notice how many Christians teach that “humans are evil and bad,” rather than the Biblical truth which is “humans are broken.” When you start paying close attention, you’ll begin to realize how many obsess about sin and the old self (Romans 6:6), rather than putting their emphasis on our inherent value as the pinnacle of God’s creation (Genesis 1:26-27), His love for us, and our new identity as saints (Galatians 2:20, Colossians 1:11-13, Ephesians 2:18-20).
4. Cut the Trash-Talking Voice of Shame
I made the conscious decision to cut out the trash-talking voice of shame in my head.
For years, I had been turning inward on myself, letting my thoughts and emotions run wild. I routinely told myself negative things like, “Yeah, I guess I am worthless,” and “I can’t do anything right,” which only reinforced the deeply rooted lies. For years, when I felt really sad about myself or situations in my life, I’d just sit with it rather than confront the lies that lead to the deep sadness. How self-defeating was that?! I’m not sure how many lies Satan whispers to us, because we do a pretty good job of feeding them to ourselves.
5. Meditate on the Truth
I began meditating, morning and night, on specific verses about who God is and who I am as His loved, righteous, redeemed son.
Whenever the lies about myself came up, I’d take those thoughts captive and make them obedient to the truth of Christ in that scenario: who I am in Christ. For this to not simply be intellectual, but to sink into my heart, I visualized past experiences with God, where I had encountered His presence, love, and goodness.
Releasing Our Shame
Each of the above steps drew me closer to God, because I began to see Him for who He truly is: my loving Father. As my default view of myself began to change, I was freed up to share the love I was experiencing with others. As I got God’s eyes on me, I was able to get God’s eyes on other people.
I began to have more compassion and empathy for others. I desired more and more to share with people how much God loves them, and desires a deep personal relationship with them. I began to experience the life I was meant to live, one of deep friendship with God and others, being fully known and fully loved — and inviting others into this life of true fulfillment.
Which steps will you implement in your life this week, as you ask Jesus to grow you?
At the cross, Jesus overcame all shame. Period. Now, it’s only a matter of living into what is true. Take these steps as you ask Jesus to bring healing and freedom from shame. You’ll be freed up to experience a life of maximum satisfaction, because you’ll be living in your true value. You’ll encounter deeper love with God, self, and others.