Failure is bad, shame is worse.
This is the second part of a two-part series on how to live a shame-free life. The first part is here.
Did you know that shame can even haunt the wealthy business woman and the Oscar-winning actress?
When you think you’ve failed — your marriage ended up in separation or divorce, your closest friend dropped you like a hot potato, your boss gave you a poor performance review, your kid is failing a few classes, and so on — you can separate what is happening out there and who you are.
Shame cuts to the soul. It attacks who your are. Click & Tweet! A shame-filled person believes she is “less than,” defective, a waste of space. . . nothing. She turns inward and blames herself for herself. She feels worthless.
You haven’t measured up to your standards, and you blame yourself. You aren’t good enough — says you!
Says author and biblical counselor Ed Welch:
Human beings evaluate worth; there is no question about that. We make judgments about people, music, art, and hundreds of other evens in a normal day. They are good or bad, valuable or expendable, right or wrong.. So it is no surprise that we also make evaluation or judgement about ourselves. According to some standard, we determine that we have not measured up.
Crucial questions: Is there a better standard to use for measuring than the ones you use? If so what are they? And if you begin using new and improved standards, will you overcome your shame.
The Usual Suspects
What sorts of standards led you or someone you love toward shame-filled living?
A few commons ones include:
- Growing up in a highly critical home where you were never good enough. You bring home a report card with all As and a solitary B, and your parent focuses on the B and expresses disappointment in you.
- Growing up in an indifferent home. You could pretty much do whatever you wanted — good or bad, and your parents just didn’t seem to care. The word for this is neglect. You felt like you were either in the way or didn’t matter.
- You didn’t fit the culture’s expectations. Perhaps you never finished high school, became pregnant in your early teens, had alcoholic parents, or had a disability of some sort.
- You were abused.
What would you add to the list?
Better Measuring Standards
The better measuring standards are God’s standards (or instructions and commandments in the Bible).
Stop judging yourself against your own standards:
- “I must have more friends to have worth.”
- “I need more money to matter.”
- “I must be prettier to have value.”
- “I need my parents’ approval to feel better.”
Instead, look to God’s standards, which no one can measure up to anyway. He demands perfection! The cool thing is he loves loves loves the broken. He embraces the foolish. He lifts up the weak. Listen:
Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.
Therefore, as the Scriptures say, ‘If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.’ 1 Corinthians 1:26-29, 30, NLT, emphasis added
Life isn’t about you and me. It’s all about God and his glory.
As you identify your shame-based lies you tell you self, you can begin to reframe them according to God’s word. You learn how to renew your mind by thinking the way God wants you to think.
How to Overcome Shame
First, love Jesus above all.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33, NIV
As you choose to love Jesus and trust him, you’ll know God loves you and that is enough.
Second, confess to God that your shame has influenced you to look to others for their approval. He delights in hearing from you and has forgiven all the wrongdoing of every believer at the cross.
Third, obey God. When you follow the Great Commandment, your thoughts, emotions, and actions will fall in line with God’s standards.
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Luke 10:27, NIV
Will making this change is the way you think be easy? I’d lie if I said yes.
To overcome shame or another negative emotion, you’ll need new godly habits. These godly habits are putting off and putting on. Putting off lying and putting on truth-telling, for instance. Or, putting off selfishness and putting on love for others.
You may need help to succeed in overcoming. Most people do. You can turn to a spiritually mature and godly woman you trust. Or you can reach out to a biblical counselor.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,