Shame is a curious thing. Its victims are often unaware of their condition, because shame can be tricky. For many of us, there are undeniable moments of shame in our lives. Moments we wish we could rip from the pages of our lives, chapters we wish we could erase. These moments are often profound- and we deal with the shame of them and hope that we can move on and leave the past tucked safely away in the past. So we do just that, we move on. Time passes and we are seemingly free from the effects of shame. The memory of it feels fuzzy and we forget.
And then one day we feel a twinge and with a just a word or a thought, the familiar sensations are back. We know just what this is. We run to the mirror to confirm our suspicions, that all along it has been hiding beneath the surface- waiting, lying dormant. It’s back. Maybe it arrives with impeccable timing, on a day or a season when you’ve been feeling particularly free. Perhaps it’s when you’ve finally begun to dream again. Maybe you’ve begun to gain traction and believe that you can actually grow, that people can change, that you can change. But now shame arrives with a tingle that can quickly become a flare up and in a moment you’re undeniably MARKED once again.
No matter how far away the past felt, shame brings you right back, right back to the moment you caught it, or rather, the moment it caught you. The moment you’ve let define you. Or worse yet, it reminds you that you were born this way. You’ve always been this way; a silent carrier of shame.
Yes, shame is tricky. Guilt is much easier to treat. Guilt is obvious. We can clearly identify it, isolate it, and deal with it. But not shame. Shame has a way of weaving itself into our very identity. It wraps itself so tightly within us we cannot see the separation and we believe it is who we are.
And we’ve tried to manage our shame. To keep others from seeing the outbreaks, to protect those we love from being exposed. We’ve been vigilant in hopes that if we managed it, it would be kept at bay.
No, shame cannot be managed. But the good news is, there is a cure. Did you hear me? There is a cure for shame.
The treatment option is rather invasive. It’s actually more of a transplant. You see, Jesus can deal with the shame – but He takes a radical approach. He doesn’t just begin the process of untangling your identity, removing the damaged portions- no, He just exchanges your entire identity. Rather than the one that is wrapped up in your brokenness, He offers an identity found in Him. He begins to speak to you about who you are in Him. The transformation is deep, and isn’t always painless. But when the exchange has been made and you’ve decided to accept the identity He died to give you, you find that shame is gone.
In Him you are free.
In Him you are whole.
In Him you are enough.
As you begin to walk out this reality you will be renewed by a sense of freedom. Also, hope. Yes hope is abundant in your shame-free identity. As time goes on, there will be days, and moments when the familiar twinge strikes again. But before you run to the closest mirror to confirm your great fears, that this new-found freedom hasn’t taken, you must know this:
“Those who look to Him are radiant, their faces are never covered with shame.” -Psalm 34:5
When the symptoms of shame begin to surface, and we fear that an outbreak is imminent, we must run to Him. He must be our mirror. A few quiet moments with Him and He reminds us that He didn’t just untangle our shame-filled identity – He gave us a new one. An identity found in Him. We are no longer carriers of shame.