For the last two years, I’ve poured a lot of energy into reminding myself that my identity is not in my weight, size, shape, or appearance. I’ve focused a lot on how my physical attributes don’t define me, that how or what I eat does not define me…but it wasn’t until recently that I shifted my focus onto what else doesn’t define me. More importantly, I’ve been learning what does, and who I am because of that.
You see, I’ve let shame and my past hurts, experiences and choices dictate how I see myself. So even though I’ve stopped seeing myself as a number, and even though I’ve stopped seeing my worth defined by outward appearance, I have still let shame decide a lot for me. Those chains are falling off, and I want to share with you how I went from being a slave to shame in the darkest hole, to dancing in broad daylight in freedom, because it’s a beautiful love story and I don’t want to keep it for myself. I want others to know they can have this, too.
Jesus has been helping me through a mentorship course to unlearn so many things I have believed about God, and is helping me to relearn the truth. I am seeing so many areas of my life where the enemy has set up camp, and I am learning battle strategies to fight back and have victory. It’s an uphill climb, it’s hard work, it’s grueling, it can be ugly, but it’s absolutely worth it. I’m talking peace like yoga doesn’t even touch.
The enemy has told me so many lies for so long, and in such a way, that I’ve allowed them to be woven into the fabric of my life. Lately I have been going through that tapestry, looking for those single threads that are the wrong color. God is helping me identify the ones with almost indiscernible knots, the ones that just don’t fit, and pulling them out, one by one.
Shame has made me believe for so long that circumstances I’ve walked through or experienced made me ill equipped to share the truth with others.
Shame is a liar, and a thief, and a bully.
Shame is a slave driver, and there is no pleasing it.
Shame made me believe that because I have experienced mental illness and hospitalizations, I was not dependable, or reliable.
Shame made me believe that because I have experienced rape and abuse, I was small, dirty, and unusable.
Shame told me I was better off dead.
Shame told me my body was wrong.
Shame told me I was not fit to be seen, that my scars from self harm were shameful.
Shame told me that I was a disappointment to God.
Shame told me that although God loves everyone so much, I was the exception.
Shame told me I couldn’t have kids, because no child should have a mother like me.
Shame told me that my husband didn’t love me, that he was better off without me.
Shame led me to substance abuse and addiction, promising relief.
Shame told me that I was not enough, that I had no value, that I was a failure.
Shame told me I had to earn God’s love.
Shame told me I had no hope, that my very existence was without it.
I was enslaved to a shame spiral that took over my entire life, my thinking, my heart, the way I saw God, the way I interacted with others; Satan used shame to isolate me until I didn’t think I had a chance at even existing, much less living.
We were not designed to feel shame. That was not part of our original framework. Shame is part of living in a fallen world, but with Jesus, we don’t have to walk in it. I’m learning that there is a difference between guilt and shame, between feeling guilt when we know we have done something wrong, vs. believing shame, which tells us that WHO we are is wrong.
Jesus came into my heart and has been cleaning out the gutters, the dark cob web trash filled alley ways, and he has been planting gardens of light in the blackest of places in me. When He came in, shame literally ran away in fear. Shame wanted me to be quiet, to be silent, to cower; Jesus’ love, however, wants something different for me.
His love says I am useful.
His love says that when I am weak, He is strong.
His love says that I am enough.
His love says that I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
His love says that I have hope, and a future.
His love says that I am of more value than the colorful flowers filling a meadow.
His love says that I was worth dying for.
His love says that am renewed, and clean.
His love says that I have purpose.
His love says that I am whole.
His love says that I can do anything through Christ Jesus who gives me strength.
His love says that I am forgiven.
His love heals.
His love casts out shame and fear.
His love conquers and is victorious.
His love gives us hope.
There are still many areas in the city of my heart where I need Him to cast out the shadows, but in the places where He already has, I am slowly starting to see flowers form in the light, places where there used to be only black darkness.
Shame doesn’t stand a chance, because the God that parted the sea and calmed the storms with His voice is fighting for me. He is with me in the wild of it all, holding me close to Him and leading me into so much more than lies could ever promise.