“Shame Off Me”
Let us lie down in our shame, and let our disgrace cover us. We have sinned against the Lord our God, both we and our ancestors; from our youth till this day we have not obeyed the Lord our God. (Jerm 3:25) Shame restrains you. It holds you back from the calling that God has upon your life. When we are active in our addictions they begin to layer us down with shame. We begin to drown in our shamefulness brought on by the sin of our addictions. When I was in my addictions I began to live a viscous cycle of relapse, excessive usage, and shame, never understanding why I constantly felt like I was drowning. I would use because I felt overwhelmed by my past failures or mistakes; however, after using these feelings were just multiplied and intensified. Addiction starts with pride and grows with shame, and that is exactly what happened in my life.
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2) The middle of pride is “I”. The middle of sin is “I”. Pride says: “I don’t have a problem, I don’t need anyone, I can figure it out alone, and I don’t need God.” All of these above statements are ones that I said my very self. I thought that I could handle life on my own and that I didn’t need anyone to help me. When people tried to help me I would push them away because my pride told me asking for help meant weakness and that I was a burden. Pride pushes everyone around you out, and most times when you finally realize that you do in fact need help, no one is around to be there for you.
Living with shame is hard. Shame keeps you in bondage. You no longer can worship God the way that you want to because your hands are shackled. You don’t choose shame, it becomes you! This statement was very apparent in my life. I didn’t choose to take on shame, it was brought on by the actions of others; however, the shame took over me and it became me for a very long time. My actions showed the shame that I felt inside and I couldn’t seem to break out of it. I tried many treatment programs to no avail. I could never seem to just “get it together” or “keep it together.”
Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.(Hebrews 12:2) Jesus wasn’t ashamed to take our shame. He willingly took up our shame, pride, and sin so that we could have eternal life. He that knew no sin, became sin so that we could be free from our chains of slavery. As wonderful as the above statements are we must realize that just because Jesus took our shame doesn’t mean that it goes away. We have to choose to allow Jesus to use the key, that only He posses, to unlock our chains. This is where I, and many others fail. We have all the head knowledge we need; however, we never put it into action. We have to humble ourselves before the Lord and allow Him to do his job.
I am the living one; I was dead, and now look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. (Rev 1:18) There is no greater hell them living a life with shame that has us in shackles of all the things that we have done wrong in life. I remember in my own life waking up every day and the first thing that popped into my head was the very demons and memories that I had been trying to numb out. It was a miserable existence. It wasn’t until I released those memories over to the Lord that I was able to wake up and no longer be haunted by them. The one thing from this sermon that really spoke to me was when he defined the difference between guilt and shame. Guilt is what you feel because of what you’ve done. Whereas shame is who you are because of what you’ve done. Guilt says you’ve messed up, shame says you’re a mess up! Guilt says you’ve made a mistake, shame says you are a mistake.
Something that really helped me work through my shame is realizing that once I gave my shame over to the Lord I was a new creation. I no longer have to have guilt or shame over the things that I had done or the things that had been done to me, because I was new and the old had been washed away. Does that mean that I will never again think about it; no. What it means is that it will no longer have a hold on me to the point that I am operating in that vicious cycle of addiction. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:21-23) Once Christ releases us from our bondage to shame we now become bound with Him! No matter where we run to Jesus will be right there with us. I remember a time in my life where I no longer wanted to be bound with Jesus and I went out to party to get away from the disaster that had become my life. I remember telling God that night that if I survived that I would know there was a bigger calling on my life. Even though I had turned my back on God that night and was going to do exactly what I wanted, He was still there watching over me and protecting me.
When we know the truth of God, and what He has done for us we will no longer be ashamed. Our perspective will begin to change. I can now look back at my life and the things that I once was ashamed of I no longer am, because God has redeemed those areas. I understand why things were the way they were and why things went the way they did. I no longer have to beat myself up with shame for my actions because I understand why I made the decisions I did. There are still times when I struggle with this and start to put that guilt and shame on myself, but I am getting better at recognizing it and going back to God with the memory so that he can show me the truth of the matter. I just have to continue to rely on God and be open to his truth.