By Elisa Morgan
Many of us - most of us? - are well-acquainted with shame.
We wear shame as our second skin. It's the go-to-garment in our closets, hanging happily alongside both our fat sweatpants and our skinny jeans, perma-pressed and ready to wear. In church services, we go forward to freedom and shed the scales of our sin only to watch them involuntarily reappear like a mutant identity when we shut our car doors for the drive home.
Shame is epidemic! It's well-documented that women uniquely struggle under the shadow of shame, both real and imagined. Victims of abuse - sexual, domestic and other versions - struggle with shame. Post-abortion studies reveal high levels of shame. Those who experience financial failure, marriage breakups, infertility and parental issues share common experiences of shame. Seventy percent of women feel depressed and ashamed after looking at a fashion magazine for 3 minutes.(1) In her Ted talk viewed by millions, Dr. Brene Brown - today's expert on shame - comments, "Shame, for women, is this web of unobtainable, conflicting, competing expectations about who we're supposed to be. And it's a straight-jacket."(2)
No kidding! With our arms tied about us, we wrestle with humiliation and guilt and shame, pretzeling our souls in a futile attempt to get free.
Humiliation comes from what happens to you. We can't help what happens to us. But we can process it and find freedom from the results.
Guilt grows over what you do. There is a very real need in us all for confession of our all-too-real failings. We've done wrong. Jesus died for our sinfulness. Done deal. Right?
Nope - at least not for most of us. Shame goes deeper to who you are. Like the annoying static cling of plastic wrap, grabbing onto everything we don't want it to grab, shame sticks and re-sticks to us no matter how far away we fling it.
Shame poisons our ability to receive God's love and see ourselves the way he sees us. Shame holds us hostage to the Hiss that says we are unloved and unloveable. Such toxicity - in the life of a follower of Christ. Where do we get the idea that such a state is welcome for a woman of God? For one who has been redeemed by Jesus?
I'm stunned that I still struggle with shame - powerful feelings that I'm not enough, or I'm too much. Why do I struggle so? God loves me! He really truly loves me! And you!
Jesus came to cancel the shamefest. Squeezing his godly essence into the body of a baby, born in a dirty manger to regular human folks, walking the dusty paths and touching the unclean with his divinity, bending under the disrespect of religious leaders and finally enduring the humiliating scourge of sin for our sakes ... Jesus died and then conquered death so that shame itself might be killed. So that shame can kill us no more.
So that we who belong to Jesus can live free. Shame-Less. What do you say?
Note - this blog was originally published in 2016, but it is such a pervasive topic that I am sharing it again, in this lenten season, as we are reminded of our redemption!
Elisa Morgan is an author and speaker and the cohost of Discover the Word. Her books include The Beauty of Broken, Hello, Beauty Full, and She Did What She Could. Connect with Elisa @elisa_morgan on Twitter, on Facebook and elisamorganauthor on Instagram.
Adapted from Hello, Beauty Full.