Yes, the day I asked God why my heart hurt so much when I became offended by a ministry decision, He showed me what was at the root.
And what He showed me changed me forever!
Desperate to hear what God wanted to teach me from this offense my eyes fell on a book from the ministry of Ancient Paths. The Lord led me to a page about shame. As I read the ways shame shows itself in a person’s life my eyes were opened to so much I needed to see.
I found myself checking off many of the evidences of shame I saw working in my own life…
“Fear of emotion” yes, that was definitely true about me. I asked the Lord, “Where did my fear of emotion come from?” I knew growing up my family never shared our feelings or showed our emotions. I realized that expressing feelings and emotions exposed who I really was deep inside. Then I began to see that I had a fear of exposing myself to others. The Lord reminded me that my parents often spoke these words in our home, “What will people think?” This “word curse,” as I have called it, kept me fearful of being seen as anything but good to others. Feelings and emotions require vulnerability, honesty, authenticity. To share my feelings and emotions opened me up to the judgment of others. What would others think of me if I admitted “that feeling”? What would they think of me if I expressed “that emotion”? Because I needed others to only see me as good I wouldn’t risk sharing my feelings, I wouldn’t risk expressing my emotions. I held them in and didn’t allow myself to feel, to express myself. I would stick with facts, superficial things that I knew well so others would only think good of me.
“Inability to be seen in public unless one’s physical appearance is perfect.” Yup, this one got my attention too. Though I had gotten less obsessed, this was often a huge concern of mine. Again, “What will people think?” if I’m less than perfect. If I wasn’t well put together I wouldn’t appear as good. I always felt vulnerable to the judgment of others, fearful they would see me in a negative way, as bad, wrong.
“Fear of trying new things.” This one received a check mark as well. “What if I don’t do well?” “What if I make a mistake?” “What if I fail?” “What will people think of me?” It was amazing how the Holy Spirit was connecting the dots and bringing revelation! I began to realize that this word curse had affected my entire life. Yes, this was the root fear of why I wouldn’t try new things. It was safe to just stick with the things I could do well. Why risk something that I may not do well? Why put myself in a position that others would see what I already knew about myself, that I wasn’t good, that I was incapable, that I was a failure.
“Jealousy and comparison” Oh my goodness, this one I was well aware of and I had been asking God to set me free from these for so long. My prayers were finally answered as God opened my eyes to understand what the root was. It was all coming together, the Holy Spirit showed me that shame was at the root of my insecurity, and insecurity was what kept me striving to prove my value, my worth. Because I believed I was no good, I needed to prove to others that I was good. The typical scenario went like this…I would get dressed in the morning and feel pretty good about myself. My outfit looked good, my hair was properly fluffed. (Yes, I love big hair!) I left the house feeling good and confident. The confidence continued as I walked into church on Sunday morning, into the mall, or anywhere there were other women. But as I began to check out other women, their outfits, their hair, their body types…insecurity began to set in. All of a sudden my outfit wasn’t right for the occasion. My hair wasn’t fluffed as well as it should be. My figure didn’t measure up…before I knew it I felt wrong, bad, ugly! How did I go from feeling so good about myself that morning to feeling so bad about myself?
It had a name, it was called, Shame!
Shame was the root, deep down inside I believed I was no good. No matter how good I looked, how stylish the outfit, how amazing the hair, how thin the body…no matter how I measured up to those around me, it was what I believed about myself that kept me insecure, striving, and in a prison of self. And quite frankly it was very stressful and tiring!!!
But now, it had a name!
Now I could finally see the lie that held me captive in a prison of self!
My shame was exposed!
I knew what I needed to do, and I was so ready!
I confessed my sin of believing the lie that “I was no good.”
I asked God to forgive me for all the jealousy, comparing, and striving I had done to prove that I was good, to prove my worth.
I asked God to forgive me for allowing the word curse, “What will people think?” to keep me in fear of man, for making people as idols, looking to them to determine my value.
Jesus took off my cloak of shame and He wrapped me in His Robe of Righteousness!
In her song, “Holy Spirit,” Kari Jobe, says that it is in God’s presence “Where my heart becomes free, and my shame is undone.”
This is the very thing that happened to me that day I became desperate for the Lord to show me about the hurt in my heart. It is in the presence of the Lord where lies and deception, those strategies of the enemy meant for harm, are exposed by the light of God’s truth.
When the Holy Spirit reveals your sin, it is without shame. It is without condemnation. It comes with pure love meant to draw you to repentance.
It is His lovingkindness that enables you to confess your sin, to let go of your shame, and to be set free from your prison of self!
It is by the shed blood of Jesus you are forgiven, you are cleansed, and your cloak of shame is exchanged for Christ’s Robe of Righteousness!