Here’s the sneaky thing about shame: many of us believe it’s only experienced in big “T,” trauma. But often, shame is experienced in the little “t’s” as well.
Maybe you feel like you’re not measuring up at work, or you’re failing in your relationships. Perhaps you worry what others think of you. Maybe you struggle with general feelings of inadequacy. Possibly you’re dealing with shame in your body and beauty image, or in aging or health issues. Or maybe you just feel stuck, and you can’t seem to get unstuck. (If you’re anything like me, sometimes just getting on a bra each day is half the battle. I feel like if I can do that, I can do anything!)
Anytime you feel like you aren’t enough—in big or small ways—that’s shame talking. Shame is that profound, yet subtle feeling of “not enoughness.”
In his book Loveable (Zondervan), Dr. Kelly Flanagan writes, “The voice of shame within us is crafty, not necessarily because it is saying bad things about us, but because it is saying partial things about us.” In other words, shame tells us half-truths. Yes, you might be struggling, but shame wants you to believe you are forever confined to, and solely defined by, that struggle.
But that’s not how God sees you. In God’s eyes, even as you battle with shame, you are deeply loved. You are His daughter. You are learning and growing as you go. You are being made new every day.
Shame’s half-truths may be loud, but the whole truth—God’s truth about you—is always louder.
I don’t know your story, but I do know that some of the most difficult work that exists is the exertion of stretching out through the darkness of shame and grasping for hope. I also know that you are worth it. Sometimes we just have to remember who we are—and perhaps, more importantly, remember who Jesus is.
Hebrews 12:2 reminds us to keep looking to Jesus, “the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross and scorned its shame.”
In other words, Jesus shamed shame! Therefore, whenever we fight against shame in our lives—big “T” or small “t”—we are fighting under the banner of the King of kings who has already claimed victory over it. Jesus is our Savior and our Shame-Remover. In Him, who is more than enough, our “not enoughness” is destroyed. In Him, we can overcome.
A few years ago, my five-year old son shook me awake in the middle of the night, “Mom you have to get up and see this! There are diamonds outside!”
For the first time ever, he was seeing sparkling moon-lit snow, shimmering like the stars above it.
Hope in the midst of shame is like that; it’s like waking up in the darkness to discover that Jesus makes all things—including you—new, radiant, and beautiful.