I saw the water drops on the ground in front of the drink dispenser but there just wasn’t enough time to avoid them. Just as my brain registered danger, I was already in mid-flight, legs completely swept out from under me, hip and knee cracking the ground, and my left arm outstretched with the misguided assumption that bracing my entire body fall with one wee little hand was a good idea. It was not.
There I was, lying on a cement floor in the middle of a popular restaurant on a very busy Saturday at lunchtime. I could hear people gasping all around me and I could see their faces wrought with horror.
This was NOT my finest moment.
Embarrassment began to creep in. I got up and brushed myself off, responding to the worried spectators, “Yes, I thought I was okay. No, nothing felt broken.” It could have been worse, I thought.
Logically, I knew I had absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, and I did my best to hold those feelings at bay, but I’d be lying if I said a few moments of shame didn’t creep in. And I try very hard not to lie.
It perplexed me why I felt shame over something I didn’t even cause, in a situation where I was the victim. How foolish is that?
Then it occurred to me. How much MORE SHAME do we feel from instances where we were the instigator or offender? Where the responsibility was ours? A LOT! Shame, not only in the form of embarrassment and humiliation, but also dishonor and disgrace. Even if correction is made or guilt acknowledged, the flame of shame can take years, if ever, to extinguish.
The woman who suffers shame from being morbidly obese most of her adult life. She hates that she can’t hide her failure, so she becomes reclusive and depressed.
The husband who cheats on his wife and then forever lives with the regret of what he has done. His shame can live on long after the divorce is final.
The shame from an argument where words that should have never been spoken spilled from your lips.
Several years after a felony conviction, the shame of having to list the offense on your job application, over and over again.
The gut wrenching shame felt when sharing with your future husband about the abortion you had years ago as a teenager.
The shame of having to enter rehab, yet again, for an addiction habit you just can’t beat. Or worse, knowing you should go and feeling shame because you don’t have the strength or desire to actually do it.
The shameful admission that you walked out on your kids and never provided the love and support they deserved.
It’s devastating when words leave our lips that we can’t take back. When our actions have irreversible consequences. When our decisions negatively impact not only our lives, but the lives of those we love. The shame, guilt, and regret we may feel from such infractions can last a lifetime.
But that’s not what God wants for us.
What good is it to waste your life, consumed by shame and sadness? What service to God’s kingdom does that bring? How can God use you if you insist on remaining broken?
Instead, God tells us to confess our sins, repent (turn away) from our wrongdoing, and be restored to clean and new. You don’t have the carry the burden of shame on your shoulders. You don’t have to succumb to a life of regret and misery. You don’t have to go it alone. But you do have to CONFESS and REPENT.
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“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” Acts 3:19
God makes provision for forgiveness; for a new start. He desires you to make the most of the gifts and talents he’s blessed you with. He wants you available to serve and glorify His kingdom. He wants your ‘today’ and your future to be filled with joy, hope, and peace.
Friends, the Bible has an abundance of encouraging scripture to guide, motivate and inspire you, so take advantage of all that is offered. Hear God’s heart and embrace his grace and love.
Overcoming shame can be a difficult process, but by following God’s direction, you can find healing and restoration. Allow God to be Lord and Savior of your life and invite Him to equip you to extinguish the flame of shame forever.
Will it help you to release shame by thinking that holding on to it displeases God? We’d love you to comment below.
Need more help releasing shame? Click here for a problem-solving guide that will help!
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