Maybe I’m a bit hypersensitive in recognizing the intricate and magnificent artistry within our bodies, but after a bout with Leukemia and two natural births, I stand continually amazed at our Creator and the wonder that is our body. Everything has purpose, nothing is unnecessary. Our emotions are thought to be related to activity in brain areas that direct our attention, motivate our behavior, and determine the significance of what is going on around us. Some emotions feel good, while others leave us frazzled, nonetheless, all emotions are notifications, meant to prompt us toward a response. If we continue to dismiss the beauty of its original function, we will grow numb to our own natural alert system, and possibly miss a very important message.
Shame is among those emotions that we view as bad or wrong. We are taught to subdue or dissolve it, instead of facing the root of its emergence. What I have learned, is to welcome shame, thankfully. Its unique beauty has carved a place in my heart that allows me to experience the feelings God gave me and practice stewarding a right response to them. When we dismiss the power of understanding an emotion, we also dismiss the potential good that comes from exercising it! I invite you to consider the delicate beauty of shame.
Shame is defined as the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable. We may feel shame when we reflect on past actions, behaviors, or negative thinking. In that moment enters discomfort ; a sour instead of sweet; heavy rather than light; captivity in place of freedom. If we agree that God designed us to live in the sweet, abound in the light and move in freedom, then how can the grisly experience of shame be beautiful? Because beauty comes in that swift breath following acknowledgement of our shame. When we feel the sting, a misalignment of joy is meant to stimulate us toward right living.
Identifying that which pinches our peace enables us to face it, when we face it we are able to dissect and interrogate it. What is it revealing? Is this a truth or is it a lie? Does it call for grace or an appropriate action? These questions allow for the light of Christ to penetrate its existence, casting out any deception and releasing its weight over us. Darkness is dispelled and the enemy has to flee, at the mention of His name. Even the slightest whisper of “Jesus” when we experience shame, will radiate a luminous light through our emotion, exposing truth.
All too often we use grace as a license to continue poor behavior, limiting the power of the presence of shame. This misconceived reaction keeps our shame hidden and covered, allowing it to grow and surface, repeatedly. We must become alert to the encounter for it to work goodness through us; where the fruitful labor of experiencing shame can bring us into a place of complete grace and mercy!
When we experience loss in our life, it is extremely healthy and healing to grieve that loss. We are encouraged to “move on”, “forgive and forget” or some other cliché that urges you to ignore what you have just experienced. Sometimes, due to our hurried lifestyles, we must be given permission to grieve. If you have the courage to face the uncomfortable feelings of grief and shame, you will be able to take steps toward uncovering your most radiant self.
The strategy for releasing our shame is made clear in Psalm 34:5 :
“Those who look to him for help, will be radiant with joy; No shadow of shame will darken their faces.” – Psalm 34:5 (NLT)
Shame is referenced here as a shadow that darkens our faces, but when we look to him for help, we will be radiant with joy! The help we are seeking from God is the very thing that will lead us out of the behavior that induces our shame! Our father longs for us to live in freedom of shame and guilt, but to do that, we must experience the shame, and look to him for help! When we dismiss its notification, me miss out on curative treatments waiting for us.
“Now to Him
who is able to do
far more abundantly
beyond all that we ask or think,
according to the power
that works within us,”
– Ephesians 3:20
Whatever we need, to release us from shame, God is able and willing to bring to us. To become “radiant with joy” is the complete opposite of “covered in shame”, but unless we act upon the delicate prompting of this beautiful emotion, we are not extending an invitation for Him to come. We are called to live a life of abundance, to receive fulness of joy. Our words, actions and responses get in the way of receiving that fulness of joy. The beauty of shame tells us, seek Jesus’ help, he desires to give you peace… (John 16:33).