I remember as a little girl, hiding under the covers of my bed, trying to shut out my parents’ yelling and screaming in the next room. I heard bad words. I didn’t know what some of them meant, but I did know how they made me feel. Dirty. The next morning, I awoke to the aftermath of the night’s tirade—Mom’s black eye, Dad’s crying remorse, furniture tossed and broken—and those bad words bouncing around my little-girl head.
Nevertheless, I was expected to put on my school clothes, brush my hair, eat my cereal, brush my teeth, and sit in class with my little friends as if nothing had happened the night before. The shame of what I’d seen and heard clung to me like the stink of a Friday night fish fry. Maybe no one else could smell it, but I sure did.
Never once did I wonder what went on in anyone else’s home. I was sure it couldn’t be as bad as mine. Shame wrapped its talons around my neck and squeezed. I hadn’t done anything wrong, but I felt I was wrong. My family was all wrong. And I suffered in silence.
Whether it attacks a curly-headed first-grader sitting at her desk, or an eighty-year-old woman sitting in a church pew with her friends, shame is a universal destroyer of destinies, dignity, and callings. It whispers, You’re the only one. No one is as bad as you. If they only knew. Shame keeps its victims silent.
Where did shame come from? It came from the Garden in Genesis 3. The writer of Genesis wrote about Adam and Eve on the dawn of their creation, “Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame” (2:25). The biblical writer could have used a variety of words to describe what Adam and Eve did not feel. They felt no fear, no hunger, no anxiety, no thirst, no loneliness, no lack. But the writer chose the word shame. It’s a significant choice as it foreshadows what happened next.
After they disobeyed God in Genesis 3, they felt shame for the first time. “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves” (3:6–7). The Hebrew word for shame is bosh, which means to be “utterly dejected and to be ashamed in front of one another.” That’s what they felt. Maybe you’ve felt it, too.
But the Bible tells us that because of the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, and our decision to follow Him, we never need to live under the shadow of shame again. His blood is the cure for the infection of Eden.
The Bible gives us this promise: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Guess what “all” means in that verse? All means all and that’s all all means.
When we confess our sin, the next step is to believe God tells the truth about removing the reason for the shame. God says, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (Isaiah 43:25). Do you believe God tells the truth—that you are completely forgiven and free of accusation? That’s the question, isn’t it?
Here’s another question: Can we be saved from sin but still enslaved to shame? Absolutely. Jesus removes the reason for shame; it’s up to us to walk away from the season of shame.
Salvation does not instantly inoculate anyone from feelings of shame, whether it is from something done to you or something you’ve done. But feelings don’t always line up with facts. We must decide to walk away from that shame place, regardless of what our feelings are telling us at the time.
The Bible says, “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame” (Psalm 34:5 NIV). That word “radiant” in the original text means “radiant with joy, to sparkle, to be cheerful.”
I want to be sparkly, don’t you? I am so glad that Jesus endured the shame so that we don’t have to live under its cloud any longer.
Shame off me! Shame off you! Amen!
Dear Lord, thank You for enduring the shame to remove mine. Thank You that I never have to be ashamed of my past hurts or habits because You have forgiven me and washed away my sin. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
What do you need to say to your shame today? If you’re ready to come out from the cloud of shame and believe you are completely forgiven once and for all, leave a comment and say, “I’m free!”
Learning to live free of shame is one of the ways that you can change the ending to your story. Learn how to get unstuck from condemning thoughts and become the radiant woman you were meant to be. Check out Sharon’s book, When You Don’t Like Your Story: Your Worst Chapters Can Become Your Greatest Victories and begin the journey today!
© 2022 by Sharon Jaynes. All rights reserved.