Shame is something many people carry around like a bag of rocks.
Let’s face it, we’ve all done something we regret. It could be that you didn’t say what you needed to before it was too late, or maybe it was something you did say. It could be something you looked at late at night when no one else was around to see the computer screen, or giving into peer pressure.
It might be something I just listed or something completely different, but whatever it is can weigh on a person, making them feel that no matter what they do, nobody (even God) could be able to forgive them.
Are you walking around with a bag of shame?
Is there something that you have done that you don’t want anyone to find out because if they do, they just wouldn’t understand?
1 John 1:8-9 says, “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness”
This verse is so powerful because it shows us that everyone sins. When we act like we are perfect and don’t struggle with sin – we are only fooling ourselves.
No one is perfect.
We see many “heroes of the faith” write about struggles in their own lives.
In Romans 7:15 Paul says; “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.”
This is coming from Paul after he had been a Christian for a while. He was in the middle of writing an extremely deep theological letter (to the Romans). Even when it seemed like he might have “had it all together,” he didn’t.
You see, God does not use “perfect people” – they literally don’t exist. All throughout the Bible we see very imperfect people doing unbelievably big things for the kingdom of God.
Look at David for example; he was an adulterer and a murderer. He did some pretty bad stuff, but do you know what God said? “‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart.’ (Acts 13:22)” What an honor it would be to be called “a man after God’s own heart!”
David wrote many of the Psalms and was open and honest about his struggles. Now, a few thousand years later, people are still reading his words and learning more about God in the process.
You can accept forgiveness.
Many people ask God for forgiveness, but asking for it and accepting it are two different things.
Accepting forgiveness means that you let go of your shame. It means that your life will look dramatically different. You no longer have to pick up that bag of shame every morning – it has disappeared. You can leave your rocks, dirt, and grime at the foot of the cross and never pick them back up.
This is the freedom that Paul talks about in Galatians 5:1.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
Not only can you accept forgiveness from God, but also from people. Now, this can sometimes be difficult because people don’t always act with as much grace as Jesus does, but asking for forgiveness can be a major step on the road to recovery.
Finding an accountability partner, someone you can trust, can be an amazing thing. Be honest and open with one another. Share what’s going on; talk about how God is acting in your life. We were not meant to live this life alone. All throughout the Bible we can see examples of the body of Christ coming together to “do life” with one another. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (Prov. 27:17”
God wants to use you.
Joseph was this kid in the Old Testament who was a “daddy’s boy.” He let that get to his head and started telling his brothers about some dreams he was having. In these dreams, Joseph’s brothers were bowing down to him.
Well, long story short, Joseph’s brothers sold him as a slave. Eventually he found himself second-in-command over all of Egypt! Joseph ended up saving a lot of people’s lives – including his brothers’.
He told his brothers “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Gen. 50:20)”
Your life might seem pretty messed up right now – trust me, I know the feeling. But not only can God use you right now, He wants to use you!
No one likes their mistakes, but they are a part of your story. This is a story about forgiveness, mercy, grace, and freedom. Your story is unique; share it. Use your story to glorify God, because right now, someone else needs to know that there is freedom from their mistakes – freedom from their shame – waiting for them at the foot of the cross.
Thanks for this reminder, Kateyn! 🙂
Katelyn thank you so much!!! You really Do not know how much I needed to read this just so that I could let go of my guilt and shame. I am 26 years old and I just enrolled in the Do Hard Things University Course this past Saturday. I know this course is geared to teens but I believe the Lord opened this door for me to redeem my life so that I can start living it. I too am involved in teen ministry at my church, all though I was absent from the ministry up until this past weekend. The reason for my absence I can say is that the shame of my past and present mistakes overwhelmed me and I tried everything in my power to fix it. Literally, I started fasting, praying, and doing everything I thought I needed to do to feel closer to God. But in this time of deep darkness and uncertainty of what was going on with me, God was so gracious and loving in how he gently showed me that what I was doing to show him that I loved Him was never apart of His plan. He was trying to show me that He loved me and that all He ever wanted was my heart 🙂 I literally have lived my life up to this point trying to prove to myself to others and to God that I was good. But in this past week, yesterday to be exact, God revealed to me that the fix it part that I wanted to do I could not, because it was a change needed in my heart. And though I have walked with God since I was 7 years old, last night I actually let Him into my heart. The weight of the shame I carried was deeper than I knew. Even as I began my first session of the Do Hard Things University today at my job, I began to feel overwhelmed that I had wasted my teens years rather than encouraged that God purposely allowed me to hear this message so that I could receive my healing and move forward to do the work He has called me to do without shame. But when I came across your article, the walls came down and I could see the truth that God was not shaming me because of what I think I may have last in my teen years but He was guiding to place where I could ask for His forgiveness of my past and truly for the first time receive it. I have so much peace right now that is from the Lord!! Thank you Katelyn! May God continue to bless you and use you for His Glory – Sincerely, Britney Barnaby
Wow, praise Jesus!!! He is good and faithful! I too have been raised in the church but just a year ago I could totally relate to your comment “I literally have lived my life up to this point trying to prove to myself to others and to God that I was good.” But I know now that freedom is possible!
I will be praying for you!
Katelyn, I love this!! I can definitely relate and this so spoke to my heart!! What encouraged me most is finding a girl my age with the same passions and goals as I do! I find a lot of people with similar struggles, but it’s rare to find somebody who deals with their struggles by totally giving their lives to God and pursuing him. Thank you!
I agree, it’s always nice to find someone with the same passion as you! So, nice to “meet” you! 🙂
So many of us struggle with this. This post was helpful. Thank you, Katelyn!