“Healing shame requires our being vulnerable with other people in embodied actions.”
Shame is one of the enemy’s most used tactics to stop us from being who God has created us to be. Before the Fall, when the world was perfect, there was no shame. Genesis 2:25 describes Adam and Eve as “naked and unashamed.” They were without shame even in their vulnerability when they were unprotected and uncovered. Immediately after they sinned, they made coverings for themselves and hid from God. Likewise, our default mode after we sin is to cover up, to not let others see us as we really are.
The power of shame lies in its silence and hiddenness. We try to run away from and deny our shame by keeping silent and hiding our true selves. Shame grows and looms over us when we keep our secrets close to our hearts. I used to cover up my shame with the fig leaves of performance, perfectionism, and people-pleasing. I believed the lie that if people knew the “real” me, with all my weaknesses, they would not love and accept me.
A solution for shame is boasting in our weakness. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). When we choose to be vulnerable with a close confidant, then shame loses its power over us. It sounds counterintuitive and feels as if we’re heading in the wrong direction but choosing to move toward connection with a safe person, is our ticket out of shame’s prison.
Shame says you’re not good enough. Grace says you are because of what Christ has done for you. Accepting God’s gift of grace means we can’t boast in ourselves, only in what God has done. Any emotional freedom I have experienced is a direct result of God’s initiation, His carrying me through it, and bringing me out from slavery.
The truth is that God sees us as we really are and still loves and accepts us. Romans 5:8 says that while we were sinners, Christ died for us. The next time you want to cover up your shame with silence and by wearing a mask, choose healthy vulnerability. Boast in your weakness with God and a trustworthy friend.
“Shame is a primary means to prevent us from using the gifts we have been given.”
Relevant Reflections: 1. What are some ways you hide your shame?
2. Name one person you can have healthy vulnerability with.