Shame No More

Shame No More

Someone once said,

“Guilt is when you feel like you’ve done something wrong. Shame is when you believe you are something wrong.”

That definition says it well. As Survivors, we are often filled with feelings of shame and guilt.

I prayed for a woman once who couldn’t escape the feelings of shame. She approached me with her head hanging down as she whispered in my ear, “I’m cursed with shame.”

She barely found a way to get the words out, “I’m a victim of incest. My mother scolds me and tells me I should be ashamed of myself. Doesn’t she know? Can’t she see? I’m drowning in shame, for God’s sake!”

“Shame on you, you naughty girl, or You ought to be ashamed of yourself!”
These are strong words. We have heard them spoken by mothers, fathers, and teachers. Tragically, as children of sexual abuse, these words echo in our soul throughout our lifetime. Shame is on us, and we do feel ashamed.

Shame says, “I am defective, flawed, a disgrace.” More than a fleeting moment of unworthiness or embarrassment, shame is a pervasive and toxic soul-cancer.

Will we ever escape feelings of shame? Can we truly find a way out?
Yes, I believe so. By putting responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the one who abused us; by realizing we are not flawed at all, but were marred by another who was flawed, broken. We are valuable, worthy, and deserving of life’s best.

I refuse to carry shame or live under it’s obtrusive weight, and when I find it operating in my actions and attitudes, I simply say these words, “Shame get off of me. I am loved, valued and worthy. I will not fellowship with you.”

Maybe simplistic, but saying those words out loud shift my focus and remind me to set my thoughts on things above.

Is shame an emotion you battle with? What helps you to shed the shame-based mentality?

For more on Shame, see Chapter 5, The Emotional Carnage of Shame, Guilt, and Fear, in my book When A Woman You Love Was Abused

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