Breaking The Cycle Of Shame

“Look under anger, fear, even guilt, and you will find a root of shame. People are dying from it-some quickly, others slowly. It is the heart disease of this and every era.”- Edward T. Welch (author of Shame Interrupted)

I can still remember the time, over thirty years ago, when I was in high school and some older guys publicly teased me about the fact that my father wore a turban. I stood there, drenched in humiliation, but was too shy to speak up. Even though what they were saying had no validity ( I mean, so what that they thought my dad looked funny in a turban?!), I was riddled with shame.

I validated their words and allowed them to make me feel unworthy.

The story I’ve shared is a mild example of shame. Many have deep rooted issues with shame. People live with a heavy burden from carrying feelings of worthless, humiliation and disgrace daily. Shame is a silent thief. It creeps into ones life in many different ways. Sometimes, like in my story, shame comes through the words or actions of others, and sometimes, we bring shame upon ourselves through our poor choices. Either way, Shame is a parasitic force that if we don’t get rid of immediately, will rob us of life, stealing all that God has intended for us. Unfortunately, many children of God mistake remorse for condemnation, and unknowingly fall into a pit of shame. They don’t recognize the difference between guilt and shame. Guilt says, “I did a bad thing,” while shame says, “I am bad.”

Shame is never from God.

God convicts, but He will never make you feel ashamed. Romans 8:1 makes this clear, “There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” Shame is from the enemy of our soul, Satan. He takes our guilt and humiliation, and tells us we are disgraceful.

The shame cycle goes something like this; you make a poor choice (or someone else’s sin affects you), and you recognize it as wrong and feel guilty (conviction). The accuser (Satan) finds you vulnerable, and fills your thoughts with feelings of humiliation and distress-shame. In her book, “Your Powerful Prayers,” Susie Larson writes, “Shame can have a self perpetuating nature- one that repeatedly seduces, then accuses, finds you weak and wandering, only to seduce and accuse again until you’re caught in a cycle that pulls you farther from grace, not toward it.”

Shame pulls you away from God’s grace, not towards it.

So, how do you break the cycle of shame? Here’s a battle strategy for you and I:

1. Be wise to the enemy’s game plan.

First of all “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). The enemy of your soul uses self demeaning thoughts to put a barrier between Jesus and you. It’s manipulative and sly but a way to destroy you. Awareness is the  first step towards battling shame. Be conscientious of your thoughts, as well as the condition of your heart

Shame is a bait Satan uses to keep you away from the Father’s heart

2. Share with someone you trust and get help.

It’s always wise to have people in your life that you are accountable to. A friend that loves and cares for you will be able to gently point you in the right direction, and especially when you’ve made a poor choice and regret it.

Shame can become a stronghold, preventing you from believing that you even deserve to be set free. This type of bondage will stop you from receiving the help you desperately need.

Shedding light on any area that Satan is trying to keep dark is always a good idea. Vulnerability is a powerful tool to overcoming the feelings of unworthiness that shame brings. It also helps you to stay close to God. If you need to confess, it’s critical to humble yourself and do so. Sharing your heavy heart with God and someone you trust will help your healing.

3. Be confident that God is good and that His love for you is unconditional.

Knowing with full assurance how faithful God is and how deeply He loves you is key to winning the battle over shame. This is no easy task when you’re filled with guilt and humiliation and feeling bad about something you’ve done. But try to imagine how deep and intimate your relationship with God would be if you had full knowledge of His goodness and of His affections towards you.

Shame will keep you from running towards your loving Father.

Allow yourself to receive His mercy. He understands that we make mistakes. We are sinners, all of us! We were born to make mistakes, it’s in our nature. It’s also why we need a Savior to save us from our own wretchedness. Once you genuinely embrace God’s love for you, you will find forgiveness for your sinfulness, not shame.

4. Pray and ask God to replace the shame you feel with His grace.

Holding on to feelings of shame affects all areas of your life, but it will especially rob you of your destiny-the good plans God has for your life. Shame is a very real battle that must be conquered and replaced through honesty, vulnerability (confession), and a strong desire to be set free. The power of prayer is often underestimated. God hears our prayers and we fight to freedom through them.

It is critical that we stand firmly in the gap and pray with power and authority against shame, for ourselves and for others. 

I’ll end with what author Curt Thompson, writes in “The Soul of Shame,”: “ Shame is not just a consequence of something our first parents did in the Garden of Eden. It is the emotional weapon that evil uses to 1) corrupt our relationships with God and each other, and 2) disintegrates any and all gifts of vocational vision and creativity.

Shame is a parasitic force that robs us of life, stealing all that God has intended for us.

It’s our obligation as Christ followers to stop Satan and not allow him a foothold. Be the mighty warrior that you have been called to be, and put on your armor of God to fight the good fight of faith. You have the great Victor, Jesus Christ, on your side. 

Precious Lord, we thank You for Your goodness and Your grace. We are so grateful that You did not leave us here on earth as orphans but gave us tools to fight the spiritual battles we face daily. The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy, but You sent Your son, Jesus, to die for us so that we could live an abundant life. A life to live for Your glory! Thank You Lord.

Father, we pray against any schemes the enemy may have planted in our minds and hearts, in regards to guilt and shame. If there are any past experiences haunting any one of us, would You please assure us that with You there is NO condemnation because we belong to You. We pray for wisdom to recognize where any door may have been opened to the spirit of shame. In the authority and power we have been given in Christ Jesus, we bind and rebuke all spirits of shame from our life. We ask for healing in all the deepest  places of our souls. We ask that you remove feelings of guilt, fear and shame, and replace them with honesty, vulnerability and freedom. Give us an acute knowledge of who You are and how much You love us.

Help us be confident of the truth that You delight in us.

And Lord, wherever confession needs to be made, may it be so. Cleanse our hearts and minds, we pray. Help us to always know that there is nothing too big or too dark for You to forgive, that You have said If we confess our sins, You are faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

We pray for courage to share anything that has been kept in the dark. Help us Lord, to come forward to Your throne of Grace and allow Your grace to purify us as we confess to You. Help us to hold our heads high and walk as the heirs that we are. Prompt us, Lord, to call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and be lavished by Your never-ending love and grace.

May we alway be secure in Your affections for us. And may we know that You are our rock, fortress and deliverer, in whom we can take refuge (Psalm 18:2).

We love you Abba Father. In Jesus Christ’s powerful name we pray.

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” ~ Romans 8:1

Comments

  1. So good & such a needed message… thank you for sharing these bold truths! I loved “Shame pulls you away from God’s grace, not towards it.”

    • tweenyrandall says:

      Thank you so much Nikki! Your feedback means a lot to me. And thank you for being such an excellent “blog buddy” and editing most of my blog posts! You’re the best! Love you❤️

  2. So powerful and true. I especially like-or don’t-“Shame is a parasitic force that robs us of life, stealing all that God has intended for us”

    Awesome post. Thank you

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